Monday, March 25, 2013

Falls of Paraguay

Roughly the size of California, Paraguay is a country in Latin America just adjacent to Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia. Paraguay is known for its natural wonders: there are grassy plains, wooded hilly areas, tropical forests as well as waterfalls. The most famous waterfall chain in Paraguay is the Iguazu Falls, which is technically shared with both Brazil and Argentina because it is on the border of all three countires. Iguazu Falls are a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site and ranked the second largest in the world. The Iguaza falls are divided into several waterfalls themselves, many of which are spectacular. There used to be another distinct set of 18 waterfalls that comprised the Guaira Falls in Paraguay but these are no longer a natural attraction because of a hydroelectric project that completely submerged them.

History of The Iguazu Waterfalls

Discovered in 1542 by European explorer Cabeza de Vaca, the Iguazu Falls were initially named "waterfalls of Saint Mary" but morphed into their traditional Indian name over time. The banks of the Iguazu River were once inhabited by the Caigangue Indians. It was only in 1916 that the gentleman who publicized Iguazu diligently appeared, and Alberto Dumont, an aviation pioneer, was responsible for converting the area into a national park.

The Largest Iguazu Waterfall: Devil's Throat

The Iguazu river starts in Brazil, and flows gently for several miles until it reaches the Parana River, where there is a dramatic shift in course. Small islands and choppy terrain lead the river to become more agitated, and results in a spectacular drop off that was created by a fault formed more then 200,000 years ago. The Iguazu Falls themselves span 14 miles of pure crashing waterfalls that plummet to a depth of 229 feet. In this aspect, the Falls are much taller than the United States' Niagara Falls, which plummet to a maximum of 170 feet from their highest point. The Devil's Throat is the largest waterfall in the Iguazu Falls, and is located at the main channel of the river. Devil's Throat is about 80 meters tall.

An Important Iguazu Waterfall: The San Martin Fall

An impressive waterfall in the Iguazu chain features a double drop off of 70 meters. This waterfall is said to create a "constant roar" according to the site Patagonia Argentina, and is located in the north (upper) region of the Iguazu Falls. Since there are more than 270 waterfalls in total that comprise the chain of the Iguazu, not all individual falls are noteworthy or easy to spot, but the sheer height and unique double drop off nature of the San Martin Fall makes it easier to identify.

Smaller Iguazu Waterfalls: The Two Sisters and Others

Known as Dos Hermanas in Portuguese, the Two Sisters also features a natural pool that is 8 meters deep. This is a relaxing spot to take in the surrounding scenery that includes red soil, giant butterflies and also toucans. The Two Sisters is one of the smaller but important waterfalls in the Iguazu chain, as are the Alvar Núñez, the Bosetti and the Chico Alférez that split into two parts. Because of the continuous cascade of waterfalls in the Iguazu chain, the air is usually misty and leads to the frequent formation of rainbow