South America Travel: Three Top Waterfall Destinations in South America

Wonderful, awe-inspiring nature. That is what attracts most travelers to Latin America, in addition of course, to its fascinating culture and hospitable people. From endless desolate landscapes to lush jungles, or paradisiacal beaches, Latin America is one of the most diversified continents. The real difficulty is choosing where to go and what to see. Glaciers in Patagonia? The Amazon in Peru? And what about roaring waterfalls?

Surprisingly, waterfalls are a natural phenomenon that always leaves one with a feeling of awe and wonderment. Whether you stand on top of a towering precipice overlooking water trickling down, or you admire from below as powerful streams descend upon you, waterfalls are simply a miraculous sight. Well Latin America is filled with these, and even home to some of the most impressive falls in the world. Here is a quick overview of three great waterfall destinations in South America.

Majestic Iguazu Falls
Majestic Iguazu Falls (image by markgee6)

1. Iguazu Falls, Argentina & Brazil

Straddling the border of Argentina and Brazil, the immense Iguazu Falls are arguably one of the most beautiful natural wonders on Earth. Comprising over 275 falls pressing on a 2.5 kilometer front, Iguazu, or “great water” in the native Guarani language, is aptly named.

Surrounded by exuberant tropical rainforest opening to one of the most impressive waterfall complex, the Iguazu Falls are made of terraced cascades beautifully throwing themselves into one another. As you walk the trails of the Iguazu National Park, you’ll see thin streams seeping through the lush jungle as well as wide and high falls that can reach up to 70 meters. In addition to the magnificent sight that the Iguazu Falls offer, you’ll no doubt be impressed by the deafening roar coming from thousands of liters of water flowing from the top of the falls.

Here is an insider’s tip for a unique Iguazu travel experience. If you’re not afraid of the dark, choose to also visit the falls on a night tour. The sight of the waterfalls pouring like liters of white cream under the moonlight is simply unforgettable.

The turquoise beauty at Rio Celeste in Costa Rica
Celeste in Costa Rica (image by marandre)

2. Rio Celeste, Costa Rica

Hidden deep in the heart of the rainforest within the Parque Nacional Tenorio, is Costa Rica’s jewel waterfall, Rio Celeste. The azure-colored water of the river and waterfall seems almost supernatural. So much so that it is said the Rio Celeste owes its wonderful turquoise color to the world’s creator, who dipped his paint brush in the river while he was painting the skies.

After a couple-hour hike in the jungle, stumbling upon this magical waterfall is an incredible reward. The water flows ferociously in one large fall and into a light blue natural pool surrounded by lush vegetation and dark rocks. As of today, biologists are unable to determine the effects of the combination of minerals that give the water its heavenly color, and it is not recommended to swim here. But the sheer beauty of the site is enough to leave you speechless.

Baños Waterfall Circuit in Ecuador
Baños Waterfall Circuit in Ecuador (image by timsnell)

3. Baños Waterfall Circuit, Ecuador

Known as the playground of Ecuador, and the ideal place to launch adventure and sports trip in the country, Baños is also the perfect spot to relax. Famous for its thermal baths and myriad waterfalls, Baños is among the most picturesque cities in Ecuador and a must-see for all travelers. There are 57 waterfalls in the valley, some more famous than others such as the majestic Virgin’s Falls located right inside the city. Another impressive one to go to is the Bride’s Veil, which reaches over 260 feet high.

Probably the most impressive of all and on all waterfall circuit tour maps is Pailon del Diablo, the Devil’s Cauldron, and its rushing waters that seem to make the ground shake. Bring some good shoes and hike up to the waterfall to experience its might from up close and admire as rainbows form in the spray of the falls. There is also a suspension bridge affording magical views of the entire cascade from above.

This article was written by Hortense Soulier, experienced traveler who currently works as a marketing and web development at Peru For Less, a travel agency offering customizable tours in Peru and South America.

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