© iStock / RM Nunes
© iStock / RM Nunes

The Iguaçu National Park and the great falls

4 minutes to read

If you read any of the articles I wrote, by now you should know a lot about Brazil and its continental size. It is a country where you can find almost everything: amazing beaches, monuments, architecture, history, huge parties and, of course, the biggest bio-diversity in the world. In this article, I will drive you directly to the South Region of the country, specifically to the far east of the State of Paraná, near to the border with Paraguay and Argentina. We are exploring a place where one of the World Nature Wonders, the Iguaçu Falls, are located. The falls are divided between the territory of Brazil and Argentina, becoming a huge touristic zone. Today, I will drive you through the Brazilian part, the Iguaçu National Park

Parque Nacional do Iguaçu, Paraná
Parque Nacional do Iguaçu, Paraná
Parque Nacional Iguaçu, Paraná, Brasil

The National Park's history

© iStock / Ildo Frazao
© iStock / Ildo Frazao

An eco-adventure at a UNESCO Heritage Site 

The park covers approximately 185 thousand hectares on the Brazilian side, holding the Falls that are formed by the Iguaçu River. By the way, the place is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The predominant vegetation around the region can be seen in the surrounding rainforest that impresses the visitors. This is one of the reasons the place attracts people interested in trails and eco-adventure activities such as rafting, abseiling, rock climbing, and boat trips amid the falls.

©  Wikimedia Commons / Igor Tostes Fiorezzi
© Wikimedia Commons / Igor Tostes Fiorezzi

The region was documented for the first time in 1542, by Spain - although the Tupi-guarani natives already inhabited the area. But it was Portugal that claimed the possession of the eastern lands first, allowing Brazil to expand its territory. Centuries later, already in 1876, the engineer André Rebouças made the first proposal to the Brazilian Emperor D. Pedro II about the creation of the National Park in the region. Still, the Park became a reality in 1916, when the Brazilian and inventor of the airplane, Santos Dumont, visited the Falls and started a public movement to pressure the governor of Paraná into the creation of the Park. After several years of negotiation, in 1939, the Iguaçu National Park was officially established.

What to do 

Starting the trip

Once you get inside the park, you will take a shuttle bus that will drive you through four main attractions, giving you the option to choose where to stop first: Poço Preto Station, Macuco Safari Station, Cataratas Trail Station (beginning of the falls trail) and Porto Canoas (end of the trail and restaurant zone).

© Wikimedia Commons / Deni Williams
© Wikimedia Commons / Deni Williams

Poço Preto trail & Casa da Mata

Poço Preto trail is the first stop and the biggest trail at the park - recommended for those who want an adventure. In total, you will enjoy 9 kilometers of an ecological trail in the middle of the forest. The tour starts with a short walk to the point where you can pick up bikes - you can also go walking or even in the jeep that accompanies the tour. At the end of the trail, you also can go on foot to the "Casa da Mata", a kind of treehouse about 10 meters high - recommended for a nice panoramic view of the forest. During the tour, you will see many native animals, especially the "Papagaio", a beautiful and colorful bird, typical of Brazil.

© iStock / CarLPM
© iStock / CarLPM

A boat trip on the Iguaçu River

But if you do not have too much time, you can go directly to the boat trip on the waters of the Iguaçu River - the top part, before the falls. There you can even take a kayak and sail alone at the river - it is totally safe, and there is not too much river current. Once you are ready, the boat will bring you back to the "Bananeiras port," where you can change your clothes and take a car to the main road.

© iStock / Christian Edelmann
© iStock / Christian Edelmann

Macuco Safari & Cataratas Trail

Macuco Safari is another trail at the park that also ends on a boat trip through the waters of the Iguaçu River: this time, the boat goes on the lower part of the river. My tip here is: if you have just one day to visit the park, take this option because it will bring you very close to the falls - enough even to take a bath in its waters (they also have a dry option if you prefer). The third and highest point of the park is the Cataratas Trail. This one is the shorter, but also ends up offering the most beautiful view of the trip, the falls of Iguaçu. The feeling at the end of this trail is that you are walking on water—a unique and exciting experience.

© iStock / Jan-Schneckenhaus
© iStock / Jan-Schneckenhaus

How to get there

The city of Foz do Iguaçu has an International Airport and excellent touristic support, with several places for you to stay. The distance from the city center to the Iguaçu National Park is 14 km, and this route can be done by public bus: take line 120, it will drop you right at the park. But of course, there are several transportation options as taxis and Uber for a fair price. The tickets to the Iguaçu National Park can be booked online, but you can also buy them on the spot. It is open from 9 am to 5 pm every day. My tip here is that if you want to do the trails involving boats, schedule online in advance to avoid problems.

I hope you enjoy the Iguaçu National Park and the great falls, one of the Brazilian Wonders. It is one of my favorite destinations.


The author

Fabio Jardelino

Fabio Jardelino

I was born in a big city back in Brazil, called Recife, but I realized that it was not big enough for me. I lived around in Brazil, then abroad and currently, I'm in Europe, but always when I have a chance, I go back to Brazil to enjoy my wonderful country. Also, I want to give a little of this Brazilian Experience to you, through my articles and pictures.

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