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Iguazu Falls, Argentina - Unique Places around the World

Three times the size of Niagara Falls, this beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site contains a plethora of flora and fauna.

5. Description

Iguazu Falls is located in the Misiones Province in the Northeastern tip of Argentina, and borders the Brazilian state of Parana to the north. This semicircular waterfall is 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) in diameter with a height of 87.5 yards (80 meters), and is made up of 275 individual falls. It’s 3 times the size of Niagara Falls. The tallest of Iguazu Falls' falls is called the "Devils Throat", and is itself 87.5 yards in height as well. It is one of the world most stunning waterfalls, and produces vast clouds of mist sprays around it. Both Iguazu National Park and its counterpart, "Iguacu" in Brazil, have subtropical rainforest climates. In the winter there, the average temperatures are 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15oC) and in summer 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30oC).

4. Tourism

Yearly, Iguazu Falls attract over a million tourists from around the world. Airlines such as LAN and American Airlines offer US flights to either Buenos Aires or Rio de Janeiro. From Buenos Aires, it takes 90 minutes to get to Cataratas del Iguazú airport, in the Puerto Iguazu town in Argentina. From Rio de Janeiro it’s a two hour flight to Foz do Iguacu airport, in the Brazilian town of Foz de Iguacu. These two smaller airports are each but 5 miles from the Iguazu Falls themselves. By bus, the journey to Iguazu from Buenos Aires takes 16 to 18 hours. Either of these two towns are close enough to Iguazu Falls to allow easy access, and each have ample accommodations and facilities for visitors.

3. Uniqueness

UNESCO has listed both of the area's National Parks, one in Brazil and one in Argentina, where Iguazu Falls are, as World Heritage Sites. This recognition is due to the unique animals and vegetation found there. Speed boat rides are offered to tourists wishing to be drenched in mist, while still getting an intimate feel of these monstrous waterfalls. Helicopter rides are available for those interested in getting a bird’s eye view of the falls. "Jungle safaris" and guided walks within either Iguazu or Iguacu National Parks are also offered. Adrenaline junkies can have ropes tied around their waists, which enables them to descend down a cliff on the Brazilian side.

2. Habitat

Both Iguacu and Iguazu National Parks habitat have an astounding diversity of plant and animal species. According to UNESCO, there are an estimated 2,000 plant species, 80 tree species, and 400 bird species within them. These birds include the native toucans, magpie, anhinga, great dusky swift, and the rare harpy eagle. Reptiles such as the rare broad snouted caiman, and aquatic turtles live near the fish who swim in the water bodies in both parks. Wild cat species available to see include the jaguar, fox, and margay. The howler and cai monkeys live amongst the trees therein, while rodents like the capybara, Brazilian squirrels, and cavies to be found scurrying below.

1. Threats

Tourists who engage in excursions into the parks in and around Iguazu falls without guide supervision face risks from wild animals and the falls alike. Both Iguacu and Iguaza national parks face threats from human activities. Rapid constructions of accommodations and roads to accommodate tourists visiting Iguaza Falls threaten to disrupt the ecological harmony that exists. Habitat degradation, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, has come about in the area due to the construction of the Baixo Iguaçu Dam which is occurring, standing at the forefront of human development activities along the river. The dam construction, according to International Rivers' reports, could potentially lower the water levels to an extent that would negatively affect the subtropical flora and fauna depending on it.

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