Iguazu Falls is one of the most stunningly beautiful natural landmarks in the world. If you want to see nature at its most ferocious and powerful, you have come to the right place. When Iguazu Falls roars in front of you, the rest of the world seems insignificant and weak. Known as one of the 7 Wonders of Nature, Iguazu Falls does not disappoint. Located on the border of Argentina and Brazil, the Iguazu Falls is the perfect destination in South America. The entire South American continent is known for its adventurous charm, and Iguazu Falls is no exception. It is truly one of nature’s finest examples of power, adventure and awe.
History & Geography
This stunning collection of waterfalls joins Halong Bay in Vietnam and Cradle Mountain in South Africa as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. The Falls are located right on the border of Brazil and Argentina, in eastern South America. The Falls are situated on the Iguazu River, which is split in half by the Falls, creating an upper river and a lower river. The Falls are made up of 275 separate waterfalls, that all combine together to create Iguazu Falls. The most scenic is the Devil’s Throat, a curved section of 14 waterfalls that drop over 100m. It is the second largest waterfall in the world, coming behind Victoria Falls in Africa. The Falls are 2.7 kms in length, and was designated on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1986. More water flows through Iguazu than any other waterfall in the world, making it a roaring spectacular sight to admire. The terrain itself is mostly tropical, with humid weather and dense forest. As you enter the national park, you will immediately feel the moisture in the air and the humidity rising as you get closer to the actual waterfall.
Legend Has It
According to ancient myth, God wanted to marry Naipi, a local Aborigine girl against her wish. She escaped on a canoe with her human lover, Taroba. Upon realizing this, he got angry and separated the Iguazu River by creating deep falls so that the two will be condemned to an eternal fall. How sad! Scientists believe that the Falls are the result of a volcanic eruption, leaving a huge crack in the Earth, but what do they know!? The crack in the earth resulted in the upper and lower levels of the river, which meant that the water cascades over the top level, creating the waterfall.
How To Get There
You can access Iguazu Falls from both Argentina and Brazil, as the Falls itself acts as the border between the two countries. There are two cities on either side of the border that act as perfect launching points for your Iguazu Falls adventure.
You will fly into the capital, Buenos Aires, before catching a connecting flight to Puerto Iguazu, about a 90-minute flight. There is plenty of accommodation in this town, all catering to Iguazu Falls. You will then take a bus or taxi to the visitor center in the Iguazu National Park. While Puerto Iguazu is close, the range of accommodation is sparse and prices are inflated. There have also been some safety concerns in this town, which have been inflamed by the media.
The best place to fly in to would be Sao Paulo, then catch a connecting flight to Foz do Iguazu, taking around 90 minutes. Public transport will take you there, from most bus stops in the town. The bus will drop you directly outside the Iguazu Falls Complex. The range of accommodation in Foz do Iguazu is much more varied than Argentina and the options are endless. It is much safer (by Brazilian standards) and has much more options for food and drink.
Please be aware that it’s not cheap or easy to visit Iguazu Falls. Be prepared for airlines to take advantage of the minimal amount of flights, and for accommodation to overcharge based on availability in the towns. Unfortunately, the remote location of Iguazu Falls means that it takes a significant amount of time and money to access it. Simply be aware of this, so that you can factor it into your budget for your South America adventure. It is well worth your time and your money!
The Iguazu Falls Experience
The Iguazu Falls complex (on both sides of the border) houses the shuttle buses, trains, the tickets, some souvenir stores, and some food vendors. You simply buy your ticket (costs $35USD) and line up in a short line for a shuttle bus to take you directly to the Falls. The shuttle bus on the Brazilian side has a see-through ceiling, allowing you to admire the tropical jungle on your journey to the Falls. The train on the Argentinian side is open, taking you directly to the Falls with three stops on the way.
The Experience from the Brazilian Side
On this side, you have the option to get off the bus early, and walk your way towards the falls. The 1.2km boardwalk features stunning views of the waterfalls, taking you all the way on to Iguazu Falls itself. The boardwalk contains multiple look-outs and photo opportunities. The Brazilian side makes up only 20% of the overall Falls, while the Argentinian side makes up the remaining 80%. However, the Brazilian side is home to the Devil’s Throat, a collection of 14 waterfalls. The advantage of the Brazilian side is that you can actually walk out along the boardwalk over the top of the Devil’s Throat. It’s very wet, but absolutely incredible and a once in a lifetime opportunity. The Brazilian side offers better panoramas views of the Falls, an overall view of the width of the gigantic waterfall.
The Experience from the Argentinian Side
The advantage of the Argentinian side is that you can take boat trips out from the lower half of the river, taking you to the base of the gigantic waterfalls. You will once again get extremely wet, but the experience is second to none. You can also walk out over the top of the Falls, and can literally touch the cascading water, which is amazing. However, the view isn’t quite as good as the Brazilian side, It does get you closer to the actual Falls. There are also a lot more trails to walk along, that lead you to open water.
On both sides you will come across the gorgeous little critters called Coati. A racoon type animal, these little furry creatures aren’t afraid of humans, and will come very close for a sniff. These curious animals however aren’t all cute and fuzzy, be aware that they do bite! They will chase you for your food, rummage through your bags and can get quite aggressive if they can smell food.
Whichever side you choose to explore Iguazu Falls, you will not be disappointed. These gigantic Falls are simply breath-taking, and you’ll be mesmerized from the first moment you lay your eyes on them. Enjoy!