Iguazu National Park
The Iguazú National Park is located near Puerto Iguazú, Province of Misiones. It has a surface of 67,720 hectares (167.34 acres) within the Paranaense Forest ecoregion.
The Iguazú River, which means “big water” in the Guaraní language, flows into the Paraná River, is 1,500 meters wide (0.9 miles), and runs through a number of island and islets to finally fall from a lava cliff formed 120 million of years ago.
Gregorio Lezama was the first owner of this land and, considering them of barely no value, sold them at a public auction using a sign that read “Rainforest area surrounded by many waterfalls”.
The following owner, Domingo Ayarragaray, developed it a bit further by building a hotel and roads so that visitors could see the waterfalls, and he also exploited local wood resources until President Hipólito Yrigoyen’s Government acquired the land.
After becoming a national heritage, on October 09, 1934, it was declared National Park by Act 12.103.
The Iguazú National Park features an area of the Paranaense Rainforest ecoregion, also called Alto Paraná Atlantic Forests, and has the greatest biodiversity of the country.
The climate is tropical highland with dry season. Average temperatures range from 24 °C (75 °F) in summer to 14 °C (57 °F) in winter. Rainfalls are of 1,800 mm, mostly in summer.
The thick rainforest has abundant vines, epiphytes and ferns. At different locations, the lands feature various types of habitats, where certain species are predominant, such as forests of fan palms, rosewoods, a gigantic tree growing to a height of 40 meters (131 ft), laurels and ivory maples.
The shore forest reaches the water margins. At each level of the forest strata, a great variety of fauna live.
Caí monkeys, coatis, serelepe squirrels, toucans, fruit trees of varying colors, noisy magpies, and sometimes a margay can be seen at the top of trees or at lower heights.
At ground level, agoutis, cavies, red brocket deers, forest foxes, gold tegus can be seen, and sometimes it can be inferred that a jaguar is somewhere around because of its track.
In the water, the Yacare caiman, the anhinga or snakebird, aquatic turtles and a number of fishes are commonly found. From the sky, vultures and flocks of the Great Dusky Swift (the latter being the protected area logo) perform impressive aerobatic flights.
Mentioning all the species would be endless. Taking into account birds only, 450 species were found in the Park.
In 1984, the Iguazú National Park was declared World Heritage by UNESCO to protect its environment and disseminate its natural and cultural outstanding value as a heritage to humanity.
In November 11, 2011, Iguazú Falls were chosen one of the World’s Natural Wonders in a global poll organized by the Swiss Foundation New Seven Wonders, an honor shared with other destinations: The Amazon, Ha Long Bay, Jeju Islands, Puerto Princesa Underground River, Indonesia’s Komodo National Park, and the Table Mountain.
In 2013, UNESCO awarded Iguazú National Park once again for its Exceptional Universal Value, being a site of such extraordinary cultural and natural value transcending national borders, a site of value for humanity’s present and future generations.
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