National Park Mystery Photo 53 Revealed: A Shared Wonder

Iguazu Falls. Photo by Rick Smith.

Mystery photo 53, our first international mystery photo puzzler, challenged you to identify a waterfall and the national parks in which it is located. To help you out, we told you that this waterfall is not in one park, is not smaller than Niagara Falls, and is not Victoria Falls.

The answer is Iquazu Falls in Iguazú National Park (Argentina) and Iguaçu National Park (Brazil). You might have recognized this waterfall as the one you saw in Moonraker (1979), Miami Vice (2006) or Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).

Iguazu Falls (aka Iguassu Falls or Iguaçu Falls) is located on the Iguazu River where it forms part of the border between Argentina and Brazil. The reverse J-shaped waterfall is actually a collection of 150-275 or so island-divided cascades (depends on water level) situated along a 1.7 mile-long stretch of basalt caprock on the lip of the Paraná Plateau.

In some places the water plunges almost 270 feet, in others a little less than 200 feet, but nowhere do the falls even closely approach the world record holders. Nearly a dozen waterfalls around the planet are ten times higher or more. Still, Iquazu is gorgeous and has long been a major tourist attraction. Walkways afford close up views from both parks. In Iguazú National Park the Ecological Jungle Train shuttles passengers a few miles through lush forest to view the colossal Devil’s Throat section of the falls. Some helicopter flightseeing is allowed on the Brazilian side of the falls.

The rich biological diversity and cultural importance of the two national parks that share Iquazu Falls makes them international treasures. Both were designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the 1980s.

Congratulations to the Traveler readers who ID-ed the photo: Ken, Connier, viewmtn, Moon Pie, June, Eric, Ranger Dave, s, jchappell740, Caprice Kutz, PauletteB, DakotaToni, Jon Putnam, BTexan, celbert, Kat, JeffB, Eric Nelson, Yellowstone Ed, David Crowl, tomp2, National Park Kid, KevinM, Erik B, ron erpelding, Park-o-phile, and Ranger Paul. All are eligible for our monthly prize drawing and a chance to win a copy of Andrew Skurka's The Ultimate Hiker's Gear Guide: Tools and Techniques to Hit the Trail.

Hearty thanks to Traveler reader Rick Smith, who suggested this puzzler and supplied the photo for it.