Forget Disney. Forget Busch Gardens. This winter, take the family on a real adventure in Iguazu Falls, Argentina. When temperatures drop below freezing in other corners of the globe, the Southern Hemisphere enjoys summertime. Escape the shivers of winter’s chill, and shiver with excitement at this overwhelming world wonder.
About Iguazu Falls
Measuring approximately 210 feet high, Iguazu Falls stands taller than Niagara and wider than Victoria. When translated from the indigenous language, the word “Iguazu” means “big water.” These awe-inspiring waterfalls occupy the border of Argentina and Brazil, and divide the Iguazu River into upper and lower levels. Consisting of 275 waterfalls, the system makes up 1.7 miles of the Iguazu River. In 2011, it was declared one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Iguazu in the Movies
Iguazu Falls has appeared in films such as Miami Vice, Mr. Magoo and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Watch these films before you go to get your kids excited about the trip. Stick with Mr. Magoo if you have younger kids. Indiana and Miami feature a bit of violence.
The Legend of Iguazu
Legend has it that a powerful god wanted to marry a stunning woman named Naipi. Sadly, the object of the god’s desire was in love with someone else. She ignited the god’s wrath when she and her lover canoed away. Enraged, the god sliced the river in half, created the falls, and condemned the lovers to fall for eternity.
A more scientific explanation describes the falls as the result of a volcanic eruption, which left a crack in the earth.
Brazil vs Argentina
The falls have an Argentinean and a Brazilian side. In Brazil, they’re called by their Portuguese name, Foz do Iguacu. Argentina uses the Spanish name, Puerto Iguazu. The Brazil side of the falls offers a more panoramic view, whereas the Argentinean side provides an aerial view. If you have a family of hikers, the Brazil side offers a rustic trail to the falls. In contrast, the catwalks on the Argentinean side make the hike easier for younger children and grandma and grandpa. If your family members would rather not walk, the Argentine side has a train, while the Brazilian side has a bus to the falls.
Depending on your country of origin, Argentina and Brazil might have visa requirements.
The Animals of Iguazu
Unlike your local zoo or the theme parks of Florida, a variety of freely roaming animal species call Iguazu Park home. Your family will get up close and personal with toucan, coatis, monkeys and lizards. Look, enjoy, but as the signs warn, do not try to feed the animals. Your hand might become their lunch.
Iguazu Falls Adventures
A raft ride through Iguazu falls should hold a prime spot on every family’s bucket list, pun intended. Expect to get drenched. Resistance, along with a rain poncho, is completely futile. There’s not a roller coaster on earth that can compete with this exhilarating experience. Other adventures include zip-lining across the forest canopy, rope courses through the trees and rappelling down a suspended trail. The truly skilled and adventurous can rappel down a 15-meter waterfall.
Whichever activities you take part in, your family is sure to remember this spectacular vacation.
Lisa Marie Mercer has always loved to wander. In 2011, after exploring most parts of the globe, she and her husband wandered off to Uruguay, and decided to give it a new name – home. This article was written on behalf of South American Vacations, specialists in family tours to South America.