Las Cataratas del Iguazú or Iguazú Falls have recently been named one of the “New Seven Wonders of Nature” and it’s not hard to see why. After walking through a jungle bursting with exotic birds and animals on a walkway suspended high above the ground the first glimpse of the majestic waterfalls will surely take your breath away. As you continue on you’ll discover that the panoramic views offered to visitors, thanks to the extensive network of paths are simply awe inspiring.
Despite the heavy footfall from tourists, it still seems wild and untamed, much as the first Europeans discovered it in 1541. If you can visit in the spring, you may find brightly coloured butterflies will cloud around you, adding to the magic of the falls. Toucans fly past, and iguanas, coatis and monkeys are all almost close enough to touch; seemingly unfazed by the tourists trying to get a closer look.
The large number of visitors to the park can be a surprise at first if you were expecting a nature reserve of untouched jungle ready for exploration. Instead, there are restaurants, gift shops and information centres as one would see at any tourist attraction. There is even a train to take visitors from the park’s entrance to the falls. Canoe rides are offered to see the wildlife on a more peaceful part of the river, whilst other boats take visitors on a thrilling trip right underneath the falls, returning them to the shore soaking but excited to continue their adventure.
In fact, this influx of tourism has been a vital strategy to maintain this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors create a huge income which is doing wonders for the local economies on both the Argentinean and Brazilian sides of the falls. This is not only helping the local people but is also allowing for the preservation of the park and keeping its wildlife protected and preserved for future generations. Prior to becoming a national park there was extensive deforestation and the jungle around the falls was being depleted rapidly.
Now however, the park is now superbly maintained, and the accessibility of the falls means more people are able to enjoy and learn about the importance of conservation. The tourism at Iguazú is a small price to pay for the preservation of such a stunning site. Thanks to the conservation work being done, Iguazú remains a spectacular testament to the majesty of nature, and one that everyone is able to experience and enjoy.