Most waterfalls in the world are "normal" – perpendicular to the river. But there exist such oddities as Moconá Falls (Mocona Falls) – which are PARALLEL to the stream.

The peculiar canyon of Uruguay

Just like the 170 km distant Iguazu Falls, Mocona Falls have formed in the basaltic Paraná Plateau, which formed in Cretaceous period.

The enormous, 1,838 km long Uruguay river has an interesting peculiarity – on the bottom of river channel is a deep and narrow canyon, which is submerged and not visible, when standing at the bank of river. In the upper part of the river, up to Mocona Falls, this trench takes approximately 15 – 30% of the width of the river and is very deep. There are places where it is even 100 m deep!

Specialists consider that this deep trench formed during the last Ice Age, when the climate was dry and river was narrower. Now this canyon is submerged with much more powerful stream and, thanks to the power of the stream, is not silted with sediments.

Only in some places this submerged canyon becomes visible in daylight – and one of them is Moconá Falls.

Mocona Falls and a boat
Mocona Falls and a boat / Leandro Kibisz, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.5

The big fall

Mocona Falls divide Uruguay River in Middle and Upper Uruguay and are located 1,215 km from the mouth of river. Here the river flows along one rim of the trench and falls into it.

Moconá in Guarani means – "to swallow everything", but Yucumã – "the big fall". Somehow the first name is more used in Argentina, but the second one – in Brazil.

Rapids or falls?

Mocona Falls are seen only during low water and are not visible some 150 days per year. This is not typical for "pure-breed" waterfalls and is more characteristic for rapids. Water level in the river may change in any time of the year – sometimes the enormous river rises per 5 metres over 24 hours.

Thus a traveller might face a situation where during his journey to the the falls the level has rised and falls are not visible – visitors are recommended to ask for advice of locals before coming.

Moconá Falls, taken from a boat
Moconá Falls, taken from a boat / Cecilia Rey, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Endless wall of water

But – if a traveller is lucky, he will experience an unforgettable sight.

Although most of the river here is located in Argentina, the best vistas open from Brazil (again – a similarity to Iguazu Falls!).

If a visitor stands at the middle of falls, he sees a unique sight – seemingly endless wall of falling water which surrounds the observer for 180 degrees.



The width of falls is subject to water level. Some sources mention that the falls might be up to 3,000 m wide, many – that it is wider than 2 kilometres. More conservative sources give 1,800 m.

But even the most conservative figures mean that Moconá Falls are among the widest waterfalls of the world. The mighty Iguazu Falls are definitely wider – 2,682 m, but… that’s it, the only waterfall which is definitely wider. Technically there are even wider falls in the world, but these are interrupted with larger and smaller islands.


Many sources mention that Mocona Falls are some 25 m high. This is not entirely true – this figure shows the drop of the river over the distance of some 3 kilometres.

The height of the vertical drop at low water can reach 10 – 12 metres. Thus – if we consider that Moconá Falls are rapids – over 3 km distance these rapids make 25 m difference in river level. But the height of true, vertical waterfall reaches 12 metres.

Nature values

Around the falls has been preserved the pristine Atlantic forest. In Brazilian side this is the last place in Rio Grande do Sul state, where still lives jaguar.

A nature protected area here was first established in Brazil – Turvo State Park was established in 1947 and now has an area of 17,491 ha. In Argentina a reserve was created in 1967, in 1991 was established Moconá Provincial Park.

Unfortunately this amazing natural monument is endangered by the planned Garabí hydroelectric dam.

Mocona Falls are included in the following list:

Cave of the Crystals, Mexico
Cave of the Crystals / Alexander Van Driessche, Wikimedia Commons / free for use
40 unique natural wonders of the world[/caption] This article is a kind of wonder by itself: after meticulous work of several years here has been collected a list of absolutely unique places, where nature has outdone itself and created something unique, just in one example.


  1. Daniela Mariel Inés Kröhling, Martin Iriondo, A particular canyon excavated in the large Uruguay River channel (South America), International Geological Congress Oslo 2008. Accessed in 15.02.2012.
Mocona Falls (Yucumã Falls) on the map
[travelers-map height=320px this_post=true init_maxzoom=9]
Location, GPS coordinates: 27.1496 S 53.8877 W
Categories: Waterfalls
Values: Geology, Visual
Rating: 4 out of 10 stars
Where is located? South America, Misiones in Argentina and io Grande do Sul in Brazil, on Uruguai River
Alternate names: Saltos de Yucumã (Portuguese)
Height: 10 – 12 m
Drops: mostly 1
Width: 1,800 – 2,700 m
Stream: Uruguay

Landmarks of Argentina

Landscape in Patagonia with Monte Fitz Roy, Argentina
Landscape in Patagonia with Monte Fitz Roy / Nestor Galina, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Argentina is one of the most diverse countries in the world – it has tropical rainforest and southernmost forest (after Chile), deserts and glaciers, some of the highest mountains in the world and immense flatlands of pampas.

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Itaimbezinho Canyon / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Brazil is enormous, diverse country with many amazing and unique attractions. Especially impressive are the diverse natural landmarks – many surprising geological monuments and areas with unique and endemic plants and animals. Few know it outside the country – but there are many beautiful historical cities. Many great monuments of architecture have been created in Brazil in the 20th century.

Waterfalls and rapids

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Virginia Falls / Paul Gierszewski, Wikimedia Commons / public domain
Some of the most fascinating and awe inspiring natural monuments are waterfalls, or locations where a river abruptly changes its elevation.

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2 years ago

i love this website can ya’ll put more cool information and put more breathtaking pictures on here.

2 years ago
Reply to  Gatis Pavils

ok thank you