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Saguaro National Park, Arizona, USA
Iguazu National Park, Argentina - Amazing National Parks
103    Dibyendu Banerjee    04/05/2024

Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, and located in the province of Misiones, in the Northeastern tip of Argentina and bordering Brazil to the north, Iguazú National Park, along with its sister park, Iguaçu National Park, located in the State of Paraná in southern Brazil, is considered among the most stunning and enchanting natural sites for its massive waterfalls. Encompassing an area of 261 square miles (677 sq km), the park is located along the Iguazu River, which drops vertically some 263 feet (around 80 m) in a series of cataracts, forms a large horseshoe bend in the heart of the two parks and creates the international border between Argentina and Brazil before it flows into the mighty Parana River, less than 25 km downriver from the park. A major portion of the Iguazu River, aptly named after the indigenous term for great water, tumbles into a narrow, semicircular gorge, known as the Garganta do Diabo or Devil’s Throat, described as an ocean plunging into a bottomless abyss.

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Several individual falls, broken midway by the protruding ledges, deflect water violently that rises up to make enormous clouds of spray, creating an array of magnificent rainbows. One of such huge curtains of mist rises around 500 feet (150 m) into the air from the foot of the Garganta do Diabo, the Devil’s Throat. The never ending clouds of spray continuously douse the river islands and the surrounding forests, creating an extremely humid micro-climate, favouring lush and dense sub-tropical vegetation and nurturing a diverse fauna.

iguazu national park argentina
The Devil’s Throat
iguazu national park argentina
Dos Hermanas or Two Sisters

Legend says, long ago, the Iguazu Falls were created by a deity, who intended to marry a beautiful woman named Naipí. However, as she eloped with her mortal lover Tarobá in a canoe, the enraged deity sliced the Iguazu River, creating the waterfalls and punished the lovers to a bottomless fall, called the Devil’s Throat. Nevertheless, the Iguazu Falls, the largest waterfall system in the world, are arranged in a way that resembles a reversed English letter J, and stretch across a distance of 1.7 miles (2.7 km) with its drops varying from 197 feet (60 m) to its highest drop of 269 feet (82 m) at the head of the canyon, known as the Devil’s Throat.

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While the Devil's Throat canyon is 260 to 300 feet (around 80 to 90 m) wide and 230 to 260 feet (70 to 80 m) deep, the multi-drop and tiered waterfall complex is comprising a staircase rock formation created by layers of basalt, the steps of which vary in size from 115 to 131 feet (35-40 m) in height. Another part of the Iguazu River, located to the left of the Devil’s Throat Canyon, forms 160 to 200 individual falls and merge into a single front during the flood stage, creating the large falls, like San Martin, Adam and Eva, Penoni, and Bergano. The Iguaçu Falls, which include a series of cataracts and resemble an elongated horseshoe, extending around 1.7 miles (2.7 km), are nearly three times wider that Niagara Falls in North America and significantly greater than the width of the great Victoria Falls in Africa. There are several islands along the route of the Iguaçu Falls, which include Isla Grande San Martin, located downstream from the Garganta do Diabo, which can only be reached by small boats and offers a balcony offering panoramic views, but accessible by negotiating 190 steps through three different pathways. Apart from that, view of the individual falls, like Dos Hermanas or Two Sisters, Escondido or the Hidden Waterfall, as it is visible only from the back part of San Martin Island, Bozetti and Rivadavia, can be seen from the forest paths and trails on the Argentine side of the falls.

iguazu national park argentina
Sunset

It is generally agreed that Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, a Spanish explorer of the New World, was the first European to visit the virgin area in 1542, followed by the Jesuit missions in 1609. After that, almost about three centuries later, Edmundo de Barros, a Brazilian army officer, conceived the idea of establishing a national park in the area surrounding the falls, in 1897. However, the Iguaçu National Park in Argentina, along with the Iguaçu National Park in Brazil, was created only in 1934, following the boundary rectifications between the two countries, with the aim to protect the Iguazu Falls, one of the greatest natural beauties of the world, as well as to conserve the subtropical forest surrounding area, with its vegetation and wildlife. Today, the Iguazu National Park, together with the Iguaçu National Park in Brazil and the adjacent protected areas, forms the largest single protected remnant of the Alto Paraná Atlantic forests, a significant remnant of the Atlantic Forest, which is one of the most threatened global conservation priorities.

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Toucan
iguazu national park argentina
Yacare caiman

The vegetation of the region is rich and varied, which include the deciduous trees like Birch, Oak, Maple and others that normally lose part of their foliage during the dry season, along with other plants, like bamboo and mosses, luxuriant ferns and orchids, climbing plants and plants that provide fruits.

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Interestingly, while orchids grow next to pines, bamboos grow next to palm trees and mosses next to lianas and colourful begonias. The 400 species of birds in the region include, among others, the black-fronted piping guan, the elusive harpy eagle, Macaws, the great dusky swift and the large, brightly marked Toucans with colourful beaks. Animal life is equally varied and abundant in the park area, which apart from several members of the cat family like ocelots, jaguarondis and jaguars also includes tapirs, giant anteaters, South American coatis, Capybaras, Yacare caiman, the broad-snouted Caiman, and howler monkeys.

Saguaro National Park, Arizona, USA
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Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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Sri Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa
All religions are true. God can be reached by different religions. Many rivers flow by many ways but they fall into the sea. They all are one.
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