Monday, July 5, 2010


There was a time when I was constantly shuttling back-and-forth between São Paulo and Buenos Aires. In those days, there was (probably still is) an Aerolíneas Argentinas flight between the two cities that always got my preference. It wasn’t the fastest, because it wasn’t direct, but it was the most convenient. It left at a reasonable hour in the morning and still got me to BA in time for meetings in the afternoon.
But convenience wasn’t the only reason I preferred that flight. I preferred it, too, because it made a stop in Iguaçu – and, from the aircraft, I always had a spectacular view of the waterfalls.
There are 275 of them, stretching over a distance of three kilometers. 
The average height is eighty meters. (Niagara’s average height is 53.)
At one place, the Devil’s Throat, 13,000 cubic meters of water, per second, flow over a horseshoe-shaped 90 meter cliff. (About five times what flows over Niagara.)  You can rent a helicopter, if you like, and get really close. It’s an adrenaline rush to be surrounded by tons of falling water on three sides.
August through November is the best time to go. That’s the period of heaviest rainfall, when things are at their most spectacular.
As you’ll note from the map, part of the falls are in Brazil and part in Argentina. Which side should you go to? Well, actually, you should go to both. 
From Brazil, you get the best general views.
From Argentina, you get closer to the action.
The tripartite border between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay is only about twenty kilometers from the falls. 
To get to the Paraguayan city of Ciudad del Este all you have to do is walk across the Friendship Bridge.
Why would you want to?
Well, aside from the unique opportunity to chalk-up a visit to three South American countries in a single day, it’s because you get to visit the greatest smuggling center in all of the Americas.
You can get anything in Ciudad del Este.
Had enough of the sleaze?
Return to the falls to cleanse your mind.
Brazilian side, Argentinean side, it doesn’t matter. Rainbows, spray, roaring water, parrots flying over green jungle, they’ve all been wowing visitors since 1541.
That’s when the Spanish Conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (pictured above) first set eyes on them. And it was an Indian burial ground for untold centuries before that.
The waterfalls of Iguaçu/Iguazu. (The Argentineans spell it with a “z”.)
They’ve waiting for you.

Leighton - Monday


  1. Isn't unfortunate that the sleaze goes with the spectacular? At Niagara Falls, the best and closest views are from the Canadian side.

    A ride on the Maid of the Mist brings visitors under the Falls and there is, or was, a guided walk as well.

    At the viewing area there is a park, beautifully green, although not jungle green,with flowers beds that make the green look ever greener. Across the wide street are the upscale hotels. Just behind and to the sides of the hotel area are tattoo parlors, a museum of the grotesque, and T-shirt shops. Mixed in are some fast food restaurants.

    If there are children in your group, it is pretty much see the falls and leave.

    But, even North America's less impressive falls are still magnificent and should be seen once.

    Did I mention that there are 10 parking spaces for every hundred cars? Maybe people spend the night in Niagara because once they've pulled into a parking space, they can't face pulling out again.


  2. Hi Leighton,

    The photos you posted are breathtaking.

    I wish I was in traveling mode now, I went everywhere when I was in my twenty's and didn't appreciate it like I would now.

    'Youth is wasted on the young'

    As usual, your posts are a pleasure.


  3. Beautiful Leighton - there are so many places in the world I have yet to visit, Brazil being one of them. As I am unsure to how many if any of these dream places I will ever go it is so wonderful to have you to bring one of them to life.

  4. I shall take the fact that these brilliant images from a post long past just popped up on my screen as a sign that I should make a pilgrimage.