Puerto Iguazú

Puerto Iguazú (210 m) is a friendly, atmospheric, shambolic little place, its low white buildings splashed with the red dust from roads, and bright green vegetation growing abundantly everywhere. Its houses are neat, decorated with flowers, and although the centre is slightly chaotic, the town has an appealing authentic life of its own, despite the massive daily influx of tourists on whom the economy depends. It's not sophisticated, but it's a pleasant place to walk around, and with several comfortable and economical places to stay, it's a much more appealing base than Foz on the Brazilian side.

W Iguazú means 'big water' in the local Guaraní language (i = water, guazú = big)


The town's main street is Avenida Victoria Aguirre where you will find the Iguazú National park information office www.iguazuargentina.com,. This avenue runs northwest from the entrance to the town to the little plaza at its hub, and changes names to Avenida Tres Fronteras as it turns east and heads to the spectacular viewpoint high above the meeting of rivers Paraná and Iguazú, known as the Hito Tres Fronteras(three borders landmark). You can also reach this point via an attractive costanera, running above the Río Iguazú, past the small port where boats leave for cruises along the Paraná and to Paraguay. At the Hito, there's a string of touristy souvenir stands, where children will press you to buy orchid plants, and little rolls of the local chipitabread, made from mandioc root, and very tasty. The views over the rivers and neighbouring Paraguay and Brazil are impressive, and you can enjoy them at leisure over a beer at the atmospheric La Reserva pub opposite, .

There a couple of interesting projects worth visiting for a greater appreciation of the area. La Aripuca, www.aripuca.com.ar, is a charming centre for appreciation of the native trees of the forest - a good option for families if it's raining. A Aripuca is a traditional Guaraní trap for birds, and a giant version of the pyramidic structure which the use has been made from the fallen logs of 30 ancient trees of different species. A 30-minute guided tour (English, Spanish or German) explains all about the tree life, and then you can clamber up their trunks, or enjoy the sculpture from enormous chairs made from tree roots. Sponsor a living tree in the forest to protect it. Güira Oga(Casa de los Pájaros) is a sanctuary for birds that have been injured, or rescued from traffickers. Here, they are treated and reintroduced to the wild; there are exquisite parrots and magnificent birds of prey. A 1 km-long trail from the road winds through the forest, and through the large aviaries, with families of monkeys in trees overhead. Endangered species are bred here, and eagles and hawks are taught to hunt, it is an entirely self-funded family enterprise. A guided visit in English or Spanish takes 40 minutes, after which you can wander around at your leisure, and enjoy the peace. It is inspiring and informative.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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