Iguazu National Park was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1984 for its “striking natural beauty and the magnificent liaison between land and water” and also was voted as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. Straddling the border between Brazil and Argentina, the Iguazu River pours over the edge of volcano-blasted Parana Plateau, forming over 250 separate waterfalls. Iguazu Falls are 282ft (86m) high and 1.7 miles (2.7km) wide, making it the largest waterfall system in the world.
After our cruise to Antarctica, we spent New Year’s in Iguazu National Park before returning home to Seattle. We stayed right in the park at the Gran Melia Iguazu, with views to the falls and easy access to the park’s extensive trail and walkway system. We had a fabulous time walking through park to view the falls and also the area’s colorful and varied bird life. But the best part was an afternoon trip to Brazil, where we took a helicopter tour for amazing view over the falls.
Below are highlights from December 31st, 2022 through January 2nd, 2023. Click any image for a larger view.
The map below shows the Argentinian portion of the park and its various trails. Many of the trails are actually boardwalks built over the river or along cliff-sides, allowing visitors to get right up close to the falls. Our hotel, the Gran Melia Iguazu, is at lower left, to the left of the red-roofed buildings (click image for a larger view).
Below are some photos of the spectacular falls, viewed from the Argentinian side.
Boat tours take visitors on a wet ride right under the falls.
We love boardwalks, and really enjoyed walking through the jungle and over the rivers on the parks extensive elevates walkway system.
Our room at the Gran Melia Iguazu had a clear view to the falls, as did their infinity pool. We really enjoyed our stay.
The hotel staff warned us to keep our patio door closed when we weren’t in the room because the local monkeys know how to open the minibars and will run up quite a bill.
Preparations for a special New Year’s Eve dinner at the hotel. Barbecued meats are very popular in Argentina, and quite tasty.
Several talented dancers performed during the New Year’s Eve dinner.
After dinner, an entertaining tango band played into the night and at midnight cascades of glitter fell from above as we toasted the New Year. The glitter went everywhere, and we’re still finding small pieces that we tracked back to our apartment.
A wide variety of colorful and interesting birds live in Iguazu National Park. The birds are most active in the morning, before the heat of the day sets in. Below are some we saw on a New Year’s morning bird-watching tour.
We initially were planning to make a boat trip under the falls that afternoon, but the water levels were too low and the boats weren’t running. So we arranged a helicopter tour instead. Argentina doesn’t allow helicopter tours, but Brazil does, so we crossed the border for a few hours. We had a exceptional time in Brazil, added another country to our list, and ended up being very happy the boat trip was canceled :-).
Before flying over the falls, we passed the Itaipu Hydroelectric Dam. Completed in 1984 on the Parana River between Brazil and Paraguay, it is the 3rd largest hydroelectric dam in the world with a generation capacity of 14 GW, second only to the 22.5 GW Three Gorges Dam in China.
Below are pictures of Iguazu falls from the air. In the first picture, our hotel is visible at center right, just below the falls.
After the helicopter tour, we visited the falls on the Brazilian side of the park. This section of the falls, known as Garganta do Diabo (Devil’s Throat), is the most impressive section of the system.
We were visiting during the rainy season (Nov-March), when the flow rate of the falls can reach 450,000 cubic feet (12,750 cubic metres) per second.
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