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From the Atlantic Ocean to the top of the Andes Mountains, Argentina is a bridge between the Old and New Worlds. Innately European but distinctly Latin American, the country is a melding of cultural influences brought by the Spaniards and western immigrants and a unique geographic backdrop that offers some of earth’s most stunning scenes. Renown Argentine writer Ernesto Sabato described his homeland thus: “Because of our European roots, we deeply link the nation with the enduring values of the Old World; because of our condition of Americans we link ourselves to the rest of the continent.” One cannot sit drinking a glass of Mendoza wine in the foothills of the Andes or enjoying parrilla (grill) in the shadow of the cruise ships bound for Antarctica departing from Tierra del Fuego without thinking of Europe and the Americas. Argentines are rightly proud of their country and culture that invite visitors to indulge in and savor.
Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glacieres National Park, Argentina is one of the most stunning ice flows in the world. It is one of 48 glaciers fed by the Southern Patagonian Ice Field covering a large portion of the Andes Mountains between Argentina and Chile in South America. Located in the Patagonia region and Santa Cruz Province near the Chilean border, Perito Moreno is popular with tourists because of its incredible, in-your-face ice falls and ruptures that happen just a few hundred meters away, yet oh-so-close. It’s one of the few road-and wheelchair- accessible glaciers, making it easy for tourists to visit on a day trip from the nearby town of El Calafate. Because of its sheer size and pristine white and blue ice fed by one of the world’s few growing ice fields, the massive flow offers sweeping panoramic views unlike any other glacier on earth.
This video clip taken in 2009 features stunning footage of Perito Moreno and pieces of ice calving, or breaking off, from the glacier in spectacular fashion. There are also voice overs and a scene with my young son that you might enjoy. The warm, sunny day was ideal to view the glacier and watch the ice calving unfold.
In honor of the Carnival and Mardi Gras festivals coming soon, here is a video clip from the February 2008 Carnival celebration in Encarnación, Paraguay. If you’re in Paraguay and can’t attend the world-famous Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, don’t miss its smaller sibling in Encarnación. I think it holds its own as one of the world’s great Carnivals and adds a uniquely Paraguayan flavor to this annual event.
A colorful festival of music and dancing, Carnival is known for its wild, crazy, and sometimes risqué atmosphere. This parade in the Carnival capital of Paraguay was festive and revealing but decidedly tame compared to its reputation. Female and male performers in colorful outfits festooned with feathers and glitter like shimmering peacocks dance to lively chamame polka-style music along a long runway. It’s quite the sight to behold. This video is just a glimpse of what to expect in person. You have to see it for yourself.
2008 Carnival in Encarnacion, Paraguay
Encarnación is located in southeastern Paraguay on the banks of the Paraná River, across from Posadas, Argentina. Paraguay’s third-largest city has a population of about 100,000, and is located just half an hour from one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions, the Jesuit ruins at Trinidad.
Warning: If you attend Carnival in Encarnación, be prepared to get soaking wet. It’s a participatory event where the spectators douse one another with shaving cream. Leave your aquaphobia and valuables at home and arm yourself with cans of shaving cream to defend yourself from the onslaught. Bring a Carnival mask and join in the fun!
Cedar Breaks National Monument in southern Utah was one of the travel destinations my family and I visited in the United States last summer. Here’s a video clip showing different views of Cedar Breaks from the rim. It’s not very big but has spectacular views. Have a look; I think you’ll agree.
Cedar Breaks National Monument in southern Utah
Cedar Breaks is a short 25-mile drive on Highway 14 from Cedar City, Utah. It’s a great place to stop on your way to or from Zion National Park or Bryce Canyon National Park. The rock formations are similar to those of Bryce Canyon albeit on a smaller scale. If you don’t have time to visit Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks is a good alternate.
The first video segment shows a close up of the Devil’s Throat (in Spanish, Garganta del Diablo) looking down from the Argentina side. The second was filmed from a platform on the Brazil side looking up the waterfalls looking up at the Devil’s Throat. The third segment features a downriver look at the many cascading waterfalls that form Iguazu Falls. I think you’ll agree that the sight is impressive.
I tried to keep the video camera steady and pan slowly, but the scene was so immense that I had to move the camera in multiple directions to capture it all.
Iguazu Falls, Argentina-Brazil
Click here for more information about and photos of Iguazu Falls.
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I’ve had the rare opportunity to visit two of the world’s great waterfalls, Iguazu (Iguaçu) Falls on the Argentina-Brazil border in South America and Victoria Falls (Mosi-Oa-Tunya) on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border in Africa. Each was just a few hours’ drive from my former homes in Asunción, Paraguay and Lusaka, Zambia, respectively, and I visited them often. As measured by water volume, both are the two largest and arguably most spectacular waterfalls in the world.
It’s easy to conclude when you visit one that it’s more impressive than the other. Some claim that Iguazu Falls is better while others prefer Victoria Falls. Iguazu Falls is one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature and is the wider of the two with cascades that look like bridal veils. Victoria Falls, a World Heritage Site, is higher with a massive curtain of water during the rainy season that disappears in the dry season. Iguazu has the “Devil’s Throat,” a narrow falls where the water crashes into a torrential pool, and Victoria the “Devil’s Pool,” a whirlpool at the edge of the falls where visitors can swim during the dry season. One is in Africa and the other in South America, lending geographical biases in favor of one or the other.
What do you think? Here are photos of each waterfall at different times of the year. Decide for yourself. After browsing through the photos, vote for your favorite waterfall at the bottom of this post.
Iguazu Falls / Iguaçu Falls – Argentina-Brazil
Victoria Falls / Mosi-Oa-Tunya – Zambia-Zimbabwe
Vote for your favorite now and post your comments below!
This poll is unscientific and has a margin of error of +/- 100%.
Which waterfall do I think is more impressive? Click here to find out.
Click here to read a follow-on article about Victoria Falls and Iguaçu Falls with photos.
I’ve had the rare opportunity over the past year to visit two of the world’s largest waterfalls. I visited Iguaçu Falls on the Argentine-Brazilian border in February 2009 prior to leaving South America, where I had lived for two years. I just returned from a short weekend trip to Victoria Falls on the Zambian-Zimbabwean border, which is a six-hour trip from Lusaka, Zambia by car. As measured by water volume, these two waterfalls are two of the largest and arguably most spectacular waterfalls in the world.
It’s easy to make comparisons between the two. In truth, both waterfalls are equally impressive. They’re different, so it’s difficult to say whether one is “better” than the other. Iguaçu Falls is larger by volume and longer. It comprises numerous waterfalls that give it a layered effect, and it stretches over a longer distance than Victoria Falls. The Parana River above Iguaçu Falls collects at the top of the falls and cascades down over what must be a stretch of five miles or longer. At the same time, Iguaçu features a boardwalk on the Brazil side that puts you near the heart of the waterfall, the “Devil’s Throat” (La Garganta del Diablo).
Victoria Falls appears visually larger than its Latino counterpart. The sheer “in your face” effect it offers you while the Zambezi River spills over is incredible. The pathway on the Zambian side puts you very close to a massive wall of water that drops at least a couple hundred feet in front of you. Although I wore rain gear, I was soaking wet when I passed close to the falls – wetter than I was at Iguaçu.
Although I left Iguaçu Falls convinced that it is unsurpassed in its grandeur, Victoria Falls rivals it in intensely. Of course, visitors to either locale would undoubtedly insist that each waterfall is more impressive than the other. As an objective outsider, I believe that these two falls collectively rank as two of the more beautiful and awe inspiring natural wonders of the world. If you ever have a chance to visit either one, don’t miss out. You won’t be sorry spending the money and time to behold two of God’s greatest creations. In this respect, I feel blessed to have experienced both.