One of the planet’s most awe-inspiring sights, the Iguaçu Falls are simply astounding. A visit is a jaw-dropping, visceral experience, and the power and noise of the cascades – a chain of hundreds of waterfalls nearly 3km in extension – live forever in the memory. An added benefit is the setting: the falls lie split between Brazil and Argentina in a large expanse of national park, much of it rainforest teeming with unique flora and fauna.
The Brazilian city of Foz do Iguaçu is the perfect base for exploring Iguaçu Falls in both Brazil and Argentina as well other attractions in the area such as Itaipu Binacional and Parque das Aves.
The name of this 15 sq km national park refers to its immense expanses of dunes, which look like lençóis (bedsheets) strewn across the landscape; they stretch 70km along the coast and up to 50km inland. Located halfway between São Luís and the Piauí border, it’s a spectacular place, especially from about May to September when rain filtered through the sand forms thousands of crystal-clear pools and lakes between the dunes. The lagoons are at their best in June, July and August. The park also includes beaches, mangroves and some interesting fauna, especially turtles and migratory birds.
The main base for visiting the park is the not particularly charming town of Barreirinhas on the picturesque Rio Preguiças near the southeast corner of the park. Other access points – well worth the effort of getting to if you have at least two nights to spend in the area – are the remote villages of Atins and Santo Amaro.
POCO ENCANTADO AND POCO AZUL
Poco Encantado aka the Enchanted Well is a sunken pool nestled in a cave with crystal clear water and visibility unlike any other. From April to September the sun is at the perfect angle to shine through the natural window and hit the water; create a stunning blue effect. The unbelievably clear water allows visitors to view the ancient rocks and tree trunks that line the bottom. Visiting this fragile eco-system is a favorite experience amongst visitors to the Chapada Diamantina National Park region.
Poco Azul is very similar to the Enchanted Well with one defining difference. Poco Azul offers visitors the chance to swim in its startling blue waters amongst ancient trees that have sunken into the pool. The contrast of golden rocks with the crystal blue waters will delight you. Swimmers are required to take a shower and wear a life preserver when they go in. Home to some of the country’s most impressive caves; The Chapada Diamantina National Park is set amongst table mountains, gorges, ravines, canyons and semi-deserts. This regions offers two of Brazil’s most spectacular caves and these natural wonders are a must visit.
ENCONTRO DAS AGUAS
The “Meeting of Waters” is one of the main tourist attractions in Manaus, Brazil. For a total of six kilometers the Rio Negro and the Solimoes River run side by side without mixing. The Rio Negro boasts dark black colored water that runs at 2km an hour with a temperature of 28 degrees Celsius. Whereas the Solimoes River is a lighter sandy color and flows between 4-6km an hour and has a temperature of 22 degrees Celsius. The difference in speed, temperature and water density is how this unbelievable phenomenon is explained.
You will have to travel almost four miles downstream to see where these two rivers actually meet to form the Amazon River. A full day cruise down the Rio Negro will take you to where the rivers meet and provide you with the most spectacular views as well as a fun-filled day on the river
Just beyond Manaus, the warm dark Rio Negro pours into the cool creamy Rio Solimões, but because of differences in temperature, speed and density, their waters don’t mix, instead flowing side by side for several kilometers. The bi-color phenomenon occurs throughout the Amazon, but nowhere as dramatically as here. Day trips always include a stop here, and many tour operators at least pass by en route to their lodges. Never disappoints.