No Visit To Paraguay, Brazil Or Argentina Is Complete Without A Trip To The Iguazu Falls!
“Poor Niagara!” is what First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt reportedly said when she first laid eyes on the incredible Iguazu Falls. Lining the Brazilian state of Parana and Argentina’s Misiones province, the 275 waterfalls divide the upper and lower Iguazu River, creating one of the most remarkable natural sites in the world. In fact, the Iguazu Falls were named as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. You can’t help but agree when you experience the Falls with all of your senses – especially your tactile senses as the spray hits you!
For most people, when we think of the great waterfalls in the world a couple undoubtedly come to mind; Victoria falls in Zimbabwe and Niagara Falls, straddling the American-Canadian border. But all good things come in three, right? And great waterfalls of the world are no exception to this, for this is no double act. Lurking deep in the jungle in South America on the Brazilian-Argentinean border lie the Iguazu Falls; higher than the Niagara Falls and wider than the Victoria falls, these falls are arguably the top dog in the field a characteristic that makes Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina very attractive holiday destinations.
The name Iguazu comes from the Guarani or Tupi words y and ûasú, meaning ‘water’ and ‘big’, and with an average annual flow rate of 1,746 tonnes of water per second, it really lives up to its name. In fact the Iguazu falls has many apt names including the ‘Devil’s Throat’, a part of it where water pours in from three sides and mist can rise up from the bottom from anywhere between 30 to 150 metres. If your brave enough you can witness this from a suspended platform at the bottom that you can walk out onto. If you don’t have nerves of steel fear not, as there are many places to view the falls from, many of which are a lot less terrifying.
The grandeur of the Iguazu Falls is accompanied by the legend of Naipi. Naipi, a beautiful aborigine, caught the eye of one of the gods. She ran from him with her lover, and the vengeful god cut the river, creating falls that would trap Naipi forever. It is no wonder that stories of gods and legends flow through the Falls: at some points, the impressive cataracts spill 270 feet down to the lower river, and seeing hundred of waterfalls along only 1.67 smiles of the Iguaza River is almost overwhelming.
That said, no visit to Brazil or Argentina is complete without a trip to Iguazu Falls. If you’ve never heard of this natural wonder, you’re in for a treat. Located on the border of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, visitors can have the opportunity to visit three different countries in just a few days time. No matter what country you choose to use as your home base, make sure you definitely spend time in both Argentina and Brazil during your trip.
The Different View Of Iguazu Falls
What to See In Argentina
The city on the Argentina side is Puerto Iguazu and to enter the area, you’ll need to pay a fee of 100 AR$ per person. If you’re planning on staying for more than one day, ask for a multiple entry ticket because you can usually receive a discount. The Argentine side is thought to have the best close-up views of the falls and visitors can travel along five main trails: Circuito Superior, Circuito Inferior, Isla San Martin, Garganta del Diablo and Sendero Macuco. If you’re not interested in or are unable to hike along the trails, there is a train service and boat tours that will provide visitors with a different perspective on this natural wonder.
Over two-thirds of the Iguazu Falls are located in Argentina and as such it is of no surprise that it offers you the best options as to places to view the falls from. Access to the falls on the Argentinean side is aided by the Rainforest Ecological Train. This train transports up 120 visitors through the Argentinean rainforest in an environmentally-friendly way and brings visitors to the Devil’s Throat as well as the upper and lower trails. If you do not want to get the train there are many trails that you can take which bring you to various parts of the falls including the elongated stretch on the Argentinean side and to where you can catch the ferry to San martin island. One trail of note is the one-kilometre long Paseo Garganta del Diablo which brings you out right on top of the Devil’s throat.
What to See In Brazil
The Brazilian side is known to have amazing panoramic views of the Iguazu falls that shouldn’t be missed. There is a long walkway which extends out into the canyon, from here you can find an extension that leads to the base of the Devil’s Throat. The Brazilian side is where you’ll want to be if you want to take to the air to see the Iguazu falls, as it is the only place that does helicopter tours after Argentina banned them due to their environmental impact. A helicopter ride really offers you a sense of the scale of these falls and a chance to view the Iguazu Falls in a way many will not get to. But, these are not the only things to do on the Brazilian side…..another favorite tourist destination is Parque das Aves, or Birds Park. The park has 180 different species of birds, as well as sections that feature butterflies and reptiles. However, it is understandable that to some, standing at the base of the Devil’s Throat with thousands of tonnes of water landing at you feet may seem less scary.
If you’re from the US, Canada, Australia or other countries, you’ll likely need a visa to enter the country, even if you’re just planning on visiting Iguazu Falls for a day. Consider going to a Brazilian consulate before you go on your vacation to get the visa because you’ll be able to get a multiple entry visa instead of limiting yourself to just a one day visit. Brazil also requires specific immunizations if you’ve visited certain countries in South America so make sure to do a little research before going on vacation.
Once you’ve taken care of all the entry requirements, you can actually take in the Brazilian perspective of this wonder. Overall, there is much to do at the Iguazu Falls, a highlight of which includes the Mancuco Safari. On this trip you get taken for three kilometre jeep-pulled wagon ride through the jungle whereby you have a chance to see and learn about the native flora and fauna here. The second part of this trip involves a short walk through the jungle getting an even closer look into this remarkable eco-system. But this second part is merely to facilitate the third, as it is a walk to the docks where you board motorised rigid-inflatable boats that will take you into the mist of the falls where the water crashes down from above. Be under no illusion, you are going to get wet, but it is all worth it for this unique experience and anyway, this is Brazil and you can always bask in the sunshine of the southern hemisphere to dry off.
Should You Skip Paraguay When Visiting Iguazu Falls?
Although southern Paraguay is located right by Iguazu Falls, it’s not as big of a tourist attraction as locations in Brazil and Argentina. The area is mostly famous for counterfeit or smuggled goods and many locals only visit Ciudad del Este if they’re looking to purchase something inexpensively (and perhaps illegally) so consider yourself forewarned.
While many visitors choose to forgo the Paraguay side, there is plenty to experience in both Argentina and Brazil. Take a few days to really experience Iguazu Falls and you’ll leave with an experience that you’ll remember for the rest of your life.
When Should You Go To Iguazu Falls?
The climate is such that there really is no wrong time to go. The peak season is January through February. You will find the Falls crowded with vacationing Brazilians and Argentines. During this time, the water volume is high and the skies are amazingly blue. On the down side, though, it will be crowded, hot, and humid. Rates for accommodations will rise along with the summer temperature as well. March through November is a great time to go in terms of weather and sparser crowds, though the Falls are crowded again at Easter time. If you’re willing to brave the rainy season of May through July, you will find lower prices, thinner crowds, and the awe-inspiring beauty that you came for.
Iguazu Falls Nearby Amenities
The Iguazu falls are strung out along the rim of a crescent-shaped cliff about 2.5 miles long dropping into the gorge below. But perhaps the most impressive distinction for this majestic tourist attraction is the fact that it remains undeveloped and unspoiled by commercialism. There are no revolving restaurants atop concrete towers, or souvenir shopping malls, or wax museums, and nowhere to satisfy a Big-Mac attack. These wondrous sights can be witnessed close-up, in their natural environment, either from a Zodiac dinghy—with a refreshingly cool drenching—on the Iguazu River, or the miles of hiking trails and wooden catwalks.
On the Argentine side of the Iguazu falls the town of Puerto Iguazu is about ten miles from the site with regular bus service or taxis to the National Park entrance. In Brazil the city of Foz do Iguaçu is the town closest to the Iguazu falls and offers many amenities including a wide variety of accommodations, restaurants, cafes, bars, and shopping boutiques plus local crafts markets.
However, in Puerto Iguazu there are two extremely popular hotels which are conveniently located for viewing the Iguazu Falls:
The Panoramic Hotel is located on a hill overlooking the confluence of the Iguazu and Parana Rivers where the incomparable vista includes the three frontiers of Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina. It is the only five-star boutique hotel in the area and is just a short five minute walk into the town of Puerto Iguazu. Built in the 1940s it has been an icon in the town’s history and after closing in the 1980s it re-opened in 2007 after extensive renovations which have preserved the original character. The property is set amidst tropical gardens and includes restaurants, bars, cafes, and all amenities plus an extremely large swimming pool and solarium with a spectacular view—especially at sunset—and bar service. The rooms with stylish décor are spacious and comfortable with all the necessary accoutrements. The business center, TV Lounge, spa, and casino (currency in pesos) complete the perfect amenities for any vacation.
For those looking for a different experience the Iguazu Grand Resort Spa and Casino is located on the edge of town close to the Brazil border crossing. Here you can enjoy distinguished architectural style, exclusive décor, which includes authentic paintings by renowned artists. Plus three bars, two fine-dining restaurants, live stage shows in Cafe Magic, and one of the most sophisticated casinos (currency US Dollars) in Latin America for a guaranteed unforgettable visit. This is a twenty-one acre property with seventeen acres dedicated to lush gardens, waterfalls, three outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a spa (with indoor swimming pool), gymnasium, and family-friendly supervised Playland. The talented Executive Chef even has his own spice and vegetable garden to ensure his exquisite culinary creations are fresh and complete with local flavors. The rooms are extremely large and proffer every imaginable luxury including jetted tubs and large shower stalls for two. This is truly a resort worthy of any vacation for adults or the entire family. Almost all of the staff here are fluent in English which proves to be very helpful to most tourists.
The Iguazu falls are undoubtedly one of the most impressive natural occurrences in our world and, to many, are considered to be one of the natural wonders of the world. If you are in Brazil and have the time to spare, it is definitely worth trying to fit a trip to them into your visit. Being by the border with Argentina and Paraguay also means that you can easily access these other countries and thus extend your South American trip further afield from Brazil.
Visit the South America destinations category to learn more about best places to visit in South America!