A tour in Iguazu Falls could easily incorporate a tour of the whole area known as Misiones, which contains much more than merely a world wonder of nature. This unique region, very different from the rest of Argentina, is a great place to explore, and contains many important sites. For instance, UNESCO has also granted heritage status to the compelling ruins at San Ignacio, near the town of Posadas. These sandstone remains of a Guarani Baroque Mission have a fascinating history of indigenous culture combining with Western influences. Needless to say, combining this with a visit to an open precious stones mine at Wanda makes for a very good day excursion.
After a journey of around 40 kilometers, the tour makes its first stop at the Wanda precious stones mine. Still in operation, one walks along the open ground seeing example after example of agate, amethyst, topaz, and quartz chrystals. This is all within view of the Parana river. After learning about the history of the mine, seeing some mining work, and having a chance to buy some of the mine’s products, the excursion continues through the province of Misiones. Make sure to take in the view of the river, villages, and the many yerba plantations for which this region is famous.
After about an hour, the tour arrives in San Ignacio Miní. These red sandstone ruins, built in a Mission square, show what was once a church, cabildo, dormitories and even a hospital. These have been recently renovated, include a visitor’s center, and as such are the most accessible and informative of a phenomenon which once included some 30 different missions. Walking amongst the ruins, guides point out the unique influences from both the West and the local Guarani, who at one time numbered as many as 3000 here. The Mission was once an important center for the protection and development of the Guarani people in the face of the menacing Portuguese bandeiras and slave traders. Designed and maintained by the Jesuits, it at one time even housed a printing press, which was used to print materials in the Guarani language, as well as a massive Baroque church. It is an impressive and unique example of cultural synthesis, considering this place thrived until the 1750s, when the Guarani war and the later expulsion of the Jesuit Order resulted in the place being abandoned. Only in the 1940s was it rediscovered, eventually becoming protected as a world heritage site. An iconic film, the Mission, includes many scenes with the IguazuFalls, and concerns this history. Having seen the ruins, one can finish the tour by returning to Puerto Iguazu, or by continuing on elsewhere, to Buenos Aires, for instance.
For further information about tours in Iguazu Falls, Argentina vacations or tours in Patagonia, contact Argentina travel experts, Say Hueque Argentina Journeys.