First of all, I want to start by saying that we have traveled all over the world. From seeing lions and elephants in Africa, penguins in Antarctica, polar bears in Churchill and killer whales in British Columbia, we have enjoyed our time in nature. We especially love forests and mountains but sandy beaches with pristine waters and kaleidoscopic sunsets are amazing too. However, nothing compares to the magnificence that is Iguazu Falls! Simply. Stunning.
We were in awe of the sheer magnitude and glory of these thundering falls. Iguazu Falls is on the border between Argentina and Brazil. You can visit each of the 2 national parks in either country for a totally different experience.
The number of falls actually changes throughout the year but usually there are about 275 separate cataracts depending on the amount of water flowing. The highest one is over 80 meters. Iguazu Falls is taller than Niagara Falls in Canada/USA and wider than Victoria Falls in Africa. Iguazu Falls has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2011 and is also considered to be one of the 7 New Natural Wonders of the World.
We flew from Sao Paulo to Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil. (Note the different Portuguese spelling.) You can also fly to Puerto Iguazu on the Argentinian side if that is more convenient.
The town of Iguazu is cut in half by the Argentinian/Brazilian border. There really isn’t much in the town so you don’t need to spend a lot of time there.
We stayed at Vivaz Cataratas Hotel Resort on the Brazilian side. This was a great place to spend a couple of nights with spacious, comfortable rooms, a tasty continental breakfast bar and a refreshing pool to cool off in with a tall drink and some coconut prawns to nibble on! They also offer a dinner buffet as well as an a la carte dining room.
When you travel to the opposite side from where you are staying, you will have to go through border control. We were fortunate that the cabbie who picked us up in Iguazu Brazil guided us through both borders to get to the Argentinian side. You will need your passports and proof off COVID vaccine for border patrol.
Alternatively, there are tours that will arrange the whole thing for you including covering entrance fees to the parks, dealing with the borders and guiding you to the falls.
We spent about 3 hours on the Brazilian side of the falls our first day. There is a simple trail which has some steps but is generally flat. The panoramic views of Iguazu are spectacular. The walk culminates with a lookout point that juts out into Floriano Falls where you are sure to be sprayed with water! For us, it was refreshing!
The Argentinian side is very different. It is a large park with many different trails, restaurants, a train and many meters of walkways over top of the falls. On our visit the Lower Circuit was partially shut down due to flooding as was the Devil’s Throat area, but the Upper Circuit was fun and gave us breath-taking views of the falls from a different perspective. These trails are accessible by wheelchair (unlike the Brazilian side).
The Upper Circuit can be accessed by ramp or a series of steps. The first part of the trail is the most onerous – then it is flat and sturdy with lots of look-outs.
I can see why the hikers and jocks like the Argentinian side with all of its different trails but if I only had a half day to visit the falls, I would choose the Brazilian side. The “wow-factor” is immediate as it takes no time at all before you have a gorgeous view – unlike the Argentinian side where you must do a fair bit of walking to achieve your goal.
To add extra delight along the trails you will notice the local denizens – capuchin monkeys, coatis, iguana, various bird species and oodles of colourful butterflies. Apparently some people have even reported quick sightings of tapirs, ocelots, jaguars and capybaras!
The photos just don’t do this experience justice. If you are trekking down to South America for any reason, you simply must take a couple of days to witness this stunning natural wonder of our world!
Brazilian side: open from 9am – 4 pm daily
Price around $16 USD (83 Brazilian Reals) Cash/Credit accepted.
Argentinian side: open from 8am – 6 pm daily.
Price is $4000 Argentinian Pesos. They do NOT accept US dollars and their credit machine didn’t accept my foreign credit card. Also, the ATM on site was not working. Best course of action is to put aside some Argentinian pesos (or buy a bottle of water from the canteen and get change in pesos at a rate of 50% on the dollar!)