Foz of Wonders


IGUASSU FALLS – One of nature’s 7 new wonders


One of the world’s seven natural wonders, the Iguassu Falls are located along the section of the Iguazu River that forms the border between Brazil and Argentina. The election that guaranteed the title to the Falls was organized by the Swiss foundation New Seven Wonders, in a process that began in 2007, with the participation of 400 natural wonders, of which 28 passed to the stage that culminated with the election of the seven winners in 2011.


Currently visited by 2.5 million tourists from around the world, Iguassu Falls were first discovered by white men in 1542. Spanish explorer Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca was traveling from the coast of Santa Catarina on route to Asunción, in Paraguay, a city recently founded by previous expeditions, when he stumbled upon the grandeur of the waterfalls.


Eleanor Roosevelt, then first lady of the United States, compared the Iguassu Falls with the falls her country shares with Canada, exclaiming: “Poor Niagara!”  


It is certainly what any tourist would think after having visited Niagara and then seeing the falls of the Iguazu River. Larger than and twice as wide as Niagara, the Iguassu Falls are completely unique. And its many beauties enchant even the most insensitive to natural wonders.


The Iguazu River, which starts in the Serra do Mar, in Paraná, is 1,320 km long, creating the border with the state of Santa Catarina and, along the last 115 km, the border with Argentina.


The Falls form 18 km before the Iguazu flows into the Paraná River. At that point, a drop in the earth's surface forms falls some 65 meters high, stretching for 2,780 meters in width, the larger part (1,900 meters) in Argentine territory.


Depending on the flow of the river, the number of falls varies from 150 to 300 and the height from 40 to 82 meters. The Iguassu Falls drop at a rate of around 1.5 million liters of water per second, in normal periods. This volume, however, may vary from 500,000 liters, in times of drought, to 6.5 million liters during the Iguazu River flood periods.


The Falls have 19 main drops, three of which are in Brazil and the rest in Argentina, though facing the observatory on the Brazilian side. The drop that gains the most attention from visitors is the Devil’s Gorge, a deep crack caused by erosion, where the main sections of the Falls meet laterally. The Devil’s Gorge is almost 85 meters high and it is shaped like a horseshoe.


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 The Iguassu Falls, both on the Argentine and Brazilian sides, are protected by national parks. On the Argentine side, the Parque Nacional Iguazú, created in 1934, covers an area of 67,620 hectares; the Iguassu National Park, in Brazil, created in 1939, covers some 185,262.2 hectares.


The beauty of the Falls and the wealth of fauna and flora led UNESCO to declare the two parks as World Heritage Sites.


Besides the rich fauna, the parks are home to a huge variety of animals whose species are found on lists of those threatened with extinction, such as jaguars, otters, cougars and margays.


Specialists estimate that the park is home to around 800 species of butterfly, of which 257 have been identified. There are also 240 species of birds and over 50 mammals.




ITAIPU HYDROELECTRIC PLANT – A wonder of modern engineering




If Iguazu River is home to one of the seven wonders of nature, on the Paraná River, just 38 km away, is one of the seven wonders of engineering, according to a list prepared by the United States’ Civil Engineering Association, after hearing from specialists from around the world: the Itaipu Hydroelectric Plant, a joint development by Brazilians and Paraguayans.


Responsible for almost 20% of Brazil’s electricity consumption and more than 90% of Paraguay's, Itaipu is gigantic in all senses of the word. The largest in the world in electricity generation, Itaipu is formed by a dam measuring 7,919 meters long and 196 meters high, the equivalent of a 65-floor building.


Construction of the dam consumed 12.3 million cubic meters of concrete, enough to build 210 football stadiums like Maracanã, in Rio de Janeiro. The iron and steel used was enough to construct 380 towers like the Eiffel Tower, in Paris.


The plant’s spillway, used to drain water not used for generation, has the capacity to discharge 62,200 m3/s, 40 times more than the average flow of the Iguassu Falls.


Besides gigantic, since its foundation, Itaipu has manifested great care in the conservation of the environment. At the time of forming the reservoir, which covers an area of 1,350 km2, a large scale operation removed animals from the areas to be flooded, to be returned later to nature, in one of the biological sanctuaries and reserves created by Itaipu.


Constructed on an area previously devastated, on the Brazilian side, through agricultural practices, Itaipu launched the biggest reforestation program developed in the world by a hydroelectric development, planting over 20 million native tree seedlings in the reservoir’s protection area.


The actions also included the recovery of streams and springs throughout the Paraná 3 Basin, an area of direct or indirect influence in the reservoir.


More information:


Parque Nacional do Iguaçu Cataratas do Iguaçu S/A

+55 45 3521.4400

Rodovia BR 469, Km 18

Itaipu Binacional Visitor Reception Center

0800 645 4645 / +55 45 3520.6676

Avenida Tancredo Neves, 6731


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