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Published: December 18th 2007
In the southern interior of South America, close to the three borders of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. a world wonder continuously crashes and pounds day and night as the Igauaçu river plunge into a canyon etched into the landscape over millions of years.
The name Iguaçu/Iguazú comes from the native tribal language, meaning "Big Water" and it's not wrong - the falls are stretched along 2.7 km with over 270 discreet falls and something like 1.5 million litres of water crashing over the side every second - the impression is of a flood plain just meeting the side of a canyon.
Shared ownership of the falls belongs to Argentina (Iguazú) and Brazil (Iguaçu) - Paraguay used to control the territory but lost a war 150 years ago, the spoils went to the winners and Paraguay became landlocked. How the waterfalls formed
- gleaned from the parks information boards.
About 1.5 million years ago - the falls lay about 20km down stream at the point where the Paraná river and Iguaçu river met. The Paraná river being more powerful had a deeper canyon, this difference led to a waterfall. Gradually at the rate of just under 2cm a
year the mouth of the waterfall is eroded, moving the falls back upstream away from the meeting point of the rivers. (end of the "Science Bit") Highlights and Attractions for the area
• The Iguacu falls
- national parks are found at both sides of the border. The Brazilian visitors area is more compact - allow 3-5 hours to visit. The Argentinian park sprawls over a larger area, walkways through wetlands and forest, allow 6-8 hours.
• The Parque do Aves
- contains all the birds that you could have seen in the National Parks if you had the 3 months to spend tracking them down - plus many endangered species from South America - they look well tended and healthy and actively breed the birds. It's just near the Brazilian entrance to the falls - 2 minutes walk.
• Cuidad del Este, Paraguay
- not some where for sightseeing! But if you need to replace that stolen digital camera probably the cheapest shopping in South America - as ever - get prices and reviews from the internet prior to shopping, haggle (not as much as Asia!) and search around - be prepared to move on if a
store seems dodgy - and keep your wits about you in the streets - no need to have it stolen again! For foreigners the customs allowances are generous and you probably won't even get a second glance.
• Itaipu Dam
- the worlds largest dam, largest power plant, providing Brazil with 20%!o(MISSING)f it's electricity and Paraguay with 90%!F(MISSING)ridays and Saturdays evenings are entertainment time, lights are turned on and Paraguay goes dark for 20mins - the lights consume enough electricity to power a city of 15,000. Everything is on a phenomenally massive scale, 30 years to build, 30 years to payback the build costs, height the size of a 65 floor building.
• The Triple Border
- the Paraná and Iguazú rivers mark the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, the three countries have marked the points with flag coloured mini pyramids and souvenir shops. So that marks the end of my brief travels away from the desk - back to work now - making things for travelblog
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