IGUAÇÚ National Park and Iguazú National Park and Iguazú National Reserve: World Heritage Site
Misiones (AR) (N)/Paraná (BR) (SW) EBA075 interior Atlantic forest
Lat:25o42´S/54o26´W 210,000ha (55,500ha in Argentina; 49,200ha is National Park and 6,300ha is National Reserve. 150,500ha Brazil) flat 151-170m msl
National Park and National Reserve (AR), National Park (BR), World Heritage site covers parts in both countries
May-October (March 2003, April 2005)
Birding Site Guide
From the Argentine side: The protected area sits on the border of Argentina and Brazil, and 12km from Paraguay border. From the Argentine side, Puerto Iguazú, where there is accommodation, there is a large visitor centre and most of the best forest. Argentina has adjoining protected areas of a National Park and a National Reserve. There are various ways to get to the falls, you can walk or get the bus or mini-tourist train. If you wish to walk all the trails and see the falls you will require more than one day, possible 3. There are a series of boardwalks across the River Iguaçu to the falls, if you go in May or July though these may be impassable due to high water. The trails are called the Passeios Inferiores (1.5km) and Garganta do Diablo. For a longer walk try the Sendero Macuco, located 2.5km from the visitor centre, it is a 13km return walk to the Rio Iguazú Inferior. For guided walks ask at the visitor centre, these are expensive at US$100 per day. Special permission is required to enter the restricted forest areas, enquire at the visitor centre for the contact at the foot.
From the Brazilian side: There is one hotel in the park above the waterfall, the Hotel das Cataratas. The cheapest accommodation in Foz do Iguaçu is as always in Brazil straight across the road from the long-distance bus station (not the local bus station in town). Walk out of the bus terminal past the tourist information office and head straight across the parking area to the cafes. Here there are 3 small unsigned hotels in a row which all cost US$5 per single per night, but they are often full. The tourist information can give you other places to stay in town, including one of a pair of youth hostels in the area. The first is in the town centre (Paudimar) name the other is located 12km out of town towards the falls. This second one is called Albergue Paudimar Campestre and costs from US$9 per night per person (discount for YH members) and you do not have to be young to be a member and stay there, I know! There were several retired people staying when I was there as well. When you get the bus out of town ask the driver to stop for the youth hostel, when he drops you off on the main road, cross it to the junction and wait for a free YH bus come and pick you up (every 20min). Internet access is free but time is limited if the place is busy (it will be).
Brazil has a larger national park but bad access for people who just wish to walk and/or bird. From Foz do Iguaçu get the daily bus to the visitor centre (which run every 20min from before daybreak till after dark). The bus run before the visitor centre opens at 08.00, but Toco Toucans and Chestnut-eared Aracaris can be seen in trees near the entrance and around the trees at Bird Park before it gets busy. Purplish Jay can be found wild and skulking in the forest at Bird Park. At the visitor centre pay US$20 and get on the bus to the falls (every 15min). After about 2km you can ask to get off for the Poço Preto Trail, this costs US$50 and includes boats rides etc. You are not allowed to pay less just to walk and bird the trail alone. This used to be allowed before all the modernization of the tourist facilities, with prior permission from IBAMA at the visitor centre and perhaps is still allowed. Birding the road back to the centre is generally disappointing due to the heavy traffic. At the falls the few tourist trails are too busy for birding, tho Plush-crested Jay is tame around the picnic area, and Great-dusky Swifts wheel about over the falls. Look out also for Black-banded Swallow.
The forests on both sides of the border undoubtedly holds many good birds, as can be seen in birding journals and reports, but unless you have special permission (perhaps for research) to the restricted areas, you may not see a great deal. This coupled with the expense of the place can make it disappointing for birders; but enjoy the falls!
For permission to visit restricted areas it would be worth contacting on the Argentine side the Delegación Técnica Regional NE Area (Technical Delegation for NE Area) or IBAMA on the Brazilian side at the visitor centre.
A total of 422 species of bird have been recorded. Relevant BENES list
SOUTH & EAST BRAZIL FORESTS BENES (Biome Endemics and Near-Endemics list)
To date there have been 68 species of mammal, 38 species of reptile and 18 species of amphibians recorded. The Itaipú Dam have as part of their environmental program a breeding and release project of many species, which they monitor for research. Species include Jaguar, which can be easily seen here because they are used to humans. I just missed seeing one by seconds at the observation tower (Brazil) but saw the video people had taken of it in the riverside bushes! And this with hundreds of people about. Maybe it was after one of the ridiculously tame troops of South American Coatis that harass the visitors for food.
There are 00 recorded species of amphibians and reptiles.
At least 2,000 species of plant have so far been recorded.