4 min.

Memories from Iguazú waterfalls

Clouds of steam raised along kilometers by the power of the falls, clouds wrapping everything and making you feel suspended.
Clouds of colorful butterflies.
Clouds of flowers.
Clouds of light and bright colors reflected on the water.
Clouds made of emotions.
Silvia, at 12 years old…
Iguazú waterfalls and clouds: my memories of an unforgettable holiday between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay

Iguazú waterfalls and the Triplice Fronteira

There are 275 Iguazú waterfalls, scattered over a canyon along approximately 3 kilometers, marking the crossroad of three countries.
Foz do Iguazú, the Brazilian city, is located between the rivers Parana and Iguazu that mark the boundaries, separating it from Ciudad del Este in Paraguay and Puerto Iguazu in Argentina, known as the Triplice Fronteira.

The name Iguazu comes from the Guarani words “y” which means waters and “guasu” which means big.

Arriving by plane you can perceive the waterfalls at a great distance through a mist suspended above the emerald forest swallowing both the Iguazu and the Parana. Approaching the airport and losing height you then discover them, dotted with a myriad of rainbows on different levels.
Foz de Iguazu is an enchanted place.
I went with my grandmother and my mother, as a stage on the way from Belo Horizonte, where my grandmother and aunt still live, and Punta del Este.
Three days stolen to the sea. Three days to discover the set of Mission, whose vision had so impressed me, making me realize that we have always been on the wrong side…I remember that the first feeling upon disembarking from the plane that day was that gave by moisture that wets everything and everyone in a few seconds and takes away your energy.
The second feeling was strictly related to the first one: the unpleasant smell of damp.
The third was that of estrangement given by the chaos of the city. All the Brazilian cities I’ve been to are chaotic, but here, although much smaller than Belo or Sao Paolo, the chaos is more disturbing.
All these sensations, in between the unpleasant and the very unpleasant, were forgotten as I approached the national park.

The Park of Iguazú seems never-ending and is the last area of continuous forest in southern Brazil. Walking along the perfectly kept tracks you enter the magical and fairy-like world made of huge cedars and firs, colored by a great variety of orchids, parrots, toucans and myriad of colorful butterflies moving all around.

The concert given by various and colorful birds is accompanied by the uninterrupted sound of the falls.

Iguazú waterfalls from the Brazilian side

It offers three separate visits: the Isla San Martin, directly under the falls, which can be reached by boat from Puerto Macuco, the Circuito Inferior that offers breathtaking views of the falls, filtered through the vapor cloud which seems to float and finally the Circuito Superior which offers an impressive view of the falls and several dining options.

Argentina’s side

It is upstream and is a must, either because the mass of water on this side is much more important, but especially for the walkway leading to the amazing Garganta del Diablo, the U-shaped gorge where the waterfall reaches an impressive range of intensity. An amazing point of view!

* practical note: don’t forget your passport to pass from one side to the other! If you are American, to enter Argentina you will also need a visa.

Around Iguazú waterfalls

If you decide to get this far – and I highly recommend it – also plan a visit to the largest dam in the world, Lake Itaipu (29 million cubic meters of water in an area of 1,640 km). The construction of the dam has been very uneven and I remember endless discussions about it at home during my childhood. In addition to having greatly reduced the scope of the falls, if it were to collapse, the damage would be incalculable …

Not to be missed are the Jesuit missions that dot the area surrounding the falls, in the three countries.
I also recommend a visit to the market of Ciudad del Este. It’s got it all and ut’s very cheap if compared to prices in Argentina. My leather bag (on the above photo) is still beautiful!
In Foz do Iguazu then there is also the largest mosque in the Americas, the Omar Ibn Al-Khattab Mosque.

The leitmotif of our stay was the alternation in between being wet and being dry and wrinkled … in this region tropical downpours are absolutely trivial. The weather passes from a shiny and maybe too warm sun to flood and to sun in a few minutes. Trying to hold an umbrella is completely useless. In a minute you are completely soaked and when the sun comes out in a few minutes you are dry again.

In addition to the showers, the humidity and the steam all around the falls should not be underestimated!

It’s been over twenty-five years since my visit and I really want to go back but at the same time I’m afraid of it: they might have built too much, especially on the Brazilian front, the magic might have gone with my maturity, I might not feel those emotions again… memories are often very sweet when compared to reality.

A romantic note

A local legend tells that a god wanted to marry a beautiful girl named Naipu. The girl, however, was in love with Caroba, a boy of her age, and decided to run away with him on a canoe. The angry god created the waterfalls to swallow them. Naipu falling turned into rock and her beloved in a tree. According to the legend the two lovers still look at each other.
*  I apologize for the poor quality of the images, but they are old scanned family pics.

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