Iguazú Falls (Spanish), also known as Iguaçu Falls (Portuguese), can be found on the Iguazú river that separates Brazil and Argentina. Iguazú Falls are the largest waterfall in the world. 80% of the waterfall is found on the Argentinian side, and 20% on the Brazilian side.
Reaching Iguazú Falls is relatively straightforward, with several options:
- Fly to Foz do Iguaçu (Brazil)
- Fly to Puerto Iguazú (Argentina)
- Take a bus from a South East Brazilian city to Foz do Iguaçu
- Take a bus from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazú
- If you are in Paraguay, take a bus from Asunción to Ciudad del Este (which is on the tri border with Brazil and Argentina)
While you are visiting Iguazú National Park I would recommend seeing the falls from both sides, as you get very different perspectives on the spectacular views. This means you’ll be crossing borders at some point, and there are several ways to do this:
- Stay on one side of the falls and do an organised tour on each side where the tour operator handles all your border crossings
- Hire a car and self drive to both sides of the falls (I only recommend this if you are in a rush and only have a day to visit the region)
- Stay on both sides of the falls
Crossing these borders is relatively easy, and in this region locals from all three countries do not need to stop at immigration if they are only crossing for the day. As a tourist you can:
- Hire a private company to handle all crossings for you
- Hire a taxi or Uber who can take you across the border and help with the process
- Take a bus, where you’ll need to get off at each border crossing and then hop back on the next bus (time consuming but cheap)
- Walk across Tancredo Neves Bridge (but be careful on the Brazilian side as some favelas have appeared)
On the Brazilian side of the border you have to get out of the vehicle and get your passport stamped by the immigration officer yourself.
On the Argentinian side, unless you are using public transport or walking, your driver will take your passports and get them stamped for you.
Just make sure you get your entry and exit stamps because if you are going further into the country and are missing a stamp you may get fined.
On the Brazilian side of the falls a ticket will cost you R$24.00 (£4.30 – 2020) and if you aren’t on a private tour there are buses that take you from the entrance/visitor centre to the beginning of the walking trail within the National Park.
The bus will stop twice. The first stop is where you’ll get off if you have booked a trip on the river boats that get right up to the falls themselves (I’ll go into this further down). The second stop is the beginning of the trek to see the falls.
While visiting either side of the falls you can see some wildlife. There are hundreds of different species within the protected National Park, which on the Argentinian side has roughly 50% of the country’s flora and fauna diversity.
This shows how important the National Park is, not only to protect Iguazú Falls but the wildlife within its ecosystem as well.
Some of the more well known animals you may encounter include: Toucans, Coatis, Capybara, Howler Monkeys and on the very rare occasion a Jaguar.
Along the walkway you will first see the part of the falls that make up the bulk of the Argentinian section. There are several viewing points as you make your way down closer to the Falls, and you really do get some spectacular views.
Watching the water cascading down really shows the true beauty and power of Mother Nature, and why this is such an iconic natural landmark.
The end of the walkway leads out over the waterfall’s lower section, giving you views of the Devil’s Throat, which is the widest section of Iguazú waterfall.
While you are up close you may get slightly wet from the spray, but nothing too drastic.
I had one issue on the Brazilian side, which was over-tourism.
In 2019 there were over two million visitors to this side of the park, and when out on the walkways imagine trying to get a good view with hundreds of others trying to do exactly the same.
The peak season is between November and February – which is also the hottest time of the year (being in the tropics it has good weather for most of the year) – so being mushed up against that many other people gets very sweaty and disgusting!
As 80% of the falls are on the Argentinian side I believe the best views are from the Brazilian side, as you can see more. But don’t take my word for it, I recommend going to both and seeing it all!
The Argentinean side of Iguazú Falls will cost you 800 Pesos (£10.20 – 2020) and there are four walking trails for you to see a variety of sides to the falls.
The first one you should visit is the Paseo Garganta del Diablo, which you can walk to or catch the train from the visitors’ centre.
This section allows you to walk over the top of Devil’s Throat itself. You’ll be right up close to the cascade, and it is truly amazing to experience.
You can watch the water crash down into the river below.
Sadly while I was there the weather was terrible. Not only did I get wet from the spray (it is only meters away from you) but also from the rain. This did affect visibility – you couldn’t see much of the Brazilian side – but still gave a great contrast to the hot, summer day seen above.
The next walking trail is Paseo Superior, which is 1.5km long and goes along the top of many of the falls you see from the Brazilian side.
This is an amazing trail and gets you up close to these smaller falls. As you walk back you’ll walk over the slow paced river before it cascades over the falls.
A fair warning – if you don’t like spiders beware, as they are everywhere and they are huge! Don’t worry though, they won’t attack you and if one does fall they won’t bite. They are important to the ecosystem in regulating the insect population, so if you are frightened don’t freak out and kill any.
The third walk is smaller, and I didn’t have the opportunity to go on it as you have to take a boat (it wasn’t running) to Isla San Martin. This walk around the tiny island at the base of the Devil’s Throat and Salto San Martin Falls would have been amazing I’m sure.
The final trail is Circuito Inferior, which allows you to walk more in the rainforest itself, getting more lose-up views of the Argentinian falls.
This trail is 1.4km and does involve more stairs. Once you finish there is a food area for you to rest and get a bite to eat.
As I mentioned earlier, on both sides of Iguazú Falls you can ride in a boat and get soaked by the falls themselves! I did this through a private tour, so I don’t have an exact price for you.
The experience was amazing! You first ride the boat up stream, and the driver will do some sharp turns around the rocks at high speeds that will really get your blood pumping. The driver will allow you to take some really up close photos at the base of the waterfall. You don’t need to worry, your possessions won’t get wet as they give you a dry bag to put your stuff in.
Make sure you have a raincoat or a poncho as you are about to get soaked!
It was amazing and so much fun, we got drenched multiple times by two separate falls. I highly recommend this experience.
Foz do Iguaçu
If you’re staying in Foz do Iguaçu there are a couple of other things you can see once you’ve finished your day by the water. For those with kids you can stop off at the Dreamland Wax Museum to see some of your favourite celebrities.
It’s also attached to Vale dos Dinossauros, which has animatronic dinosaurs for kids of all ages to enjoy.
Parque das Aves is a bird sanctuary just by Iguazú National Park.
A lot of the birds in the park are native to South America and over 50% of the birds have been rescued from poachers who were trying to sell them as exotic pets.
The park also contains many endangered birds and has been fighting to save wildlife since 1994. Normally I am not a fan of zoos but the work this sanctuary has done to help the wildlife in this rainforest is truly important.
The town on the Argentinian side is the smallest of the three at the triple frontier. There is a small town square with various monuments and of course there is always a church.
One important landmark is the point where the borders meet. This is where the Iguazú River meets the Paraná River, and you can see the borders of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay all at the same time.
At each corner of the land borders there is an obelisk with the colours of each flag to signify their cooperation.
Iguazú Falls is certainly one of earth’s special must-visit locations. It really puts life into perspective and showcases the spectacular power of Mother Nature.