We thought Niagara Falls in Canada was pretty incredible when we visited some years ago, but after seeing Iguazu Falls, our minds were blown!
Bordering between both Argentina and Brazil, the falls are one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world. The Iguazu Falls stretch in width for 2,700 m (1.7 mi), and vary in height between 60 m (200 ft) and 82 m (269 ft) with 80% of the falls, falling on the Argentinian side.
Between both sides, they feature close to 275 waterfalls with a range of heights and widths. This can change based on volume of the water which is affected in the different times of the year.
We stayed on the Argentinean side of the falls but spent a day on each side. Unfortunately, when we were on the Argentinian side it was torrential rain and spent with a sick husband.
Fun Fact: The name Iguazu comes from the indigenous Guarani or Tupi language, meaning “big water.” Legend has it that a god planned to marry a beautiful woman named Naipí, who eventually fled with her mortal lover Tarobá in a canoe. In a rage, the god sliced the river, creating the waterfalls and condemning the lovers to an eternal fall.
Accommodation in Iguazu Falls
The falls can be reached from two main towns, with one on either side of the falls: Puerto Iguazú is in Argentina and Foz do Iguaçu is in Brazil. We stayed in Puerto Iguazu on the Argentinian side. The town is small and unspectacular but the accommodation was a fraction of the cost than staying inside of the National Park at hotels such as the Gran Melia Iguazu ($300+ a night). We used our hotel purely to leave our stuff and sleep. Foz do Iguacu is a larger town with more choices for accommodation and reasonably safe.
Note: You can go between both towns by bus in an hour or less.
Be sure to check what visa requirements are needed for your nationality before trying to cross borders. For Americans and Australians, you need to have paid your reciprocity fee to enter Argentina and for the Brazilian side, a visa in your passport. Make sure your passport is stamped when you enter AND exit the bordering countries or you’ll have problems leaving from any airport.
How to get to Iguazu Falls
There are two international airports close to Iguazú Falls: the Argentine Cataratas del Iguazu International Airport (IGR) and the Brazilian Foz do Iguaçu International Airport (IGU). Argentina’s airport is 25 km (16 mi) from the city of Iguazu, whilst Foz do Iguacu is located in between the falls and the town.
Aerolineas Argentinas and LAN run flights to the falls but they are expensive and can cost anywhere from $250 USD to $500 USD return. If you’re choosing to go at a popular time of the year, consider taking an overnight bus from one of the main cities such as Buenos Aires.
From Argentina to Iguazu – Take the bus from the main bus terminal in Puerto Iguazu for 100 ARS return ($6 USD). Buses run every 20 minutes and it takes around 20/25 minutes.
From Argentina to Brazilian Falls – Buses run regularly from the main bus terminal in Puerto Iguazu. Cruzero del Norte or Rio Uruguay are the two companies that run the direct route. Both these will take you straight to the falls in 45 minutes and run on the hour (Brazilian hour so give or take some time here). If you want to make the mistake we did and go on the longer route (actually no, don’t do it!) take a public bus from Puerto Iguazu to the town of Foz do Iguazu and then jump on bus 120 from the bus terminal to get to the Brazilian side. This will take at least 1.5 hours. Be sure to have your passport with you for the crossing!
From Brazil to the Brazilian falls – Buses run every 22 minutes from the main bus terminal in Foz do Iguacu. Pay your tickets at the turnstile for 3.80 BRL ( $1 USD). The trip is roughly 40 minutes.
From Brazil to Argentina – The same bus companies as stated above do the return route from Brazil to Argentina and also run on the hour. Bus tickets can be bought on the bus.
Taxis are also available but a rate should be negotiated beforehand.
Best time to visit Iguazu Falls
There is no definitive ‘best time’ to visit the falls. Although the temperatures do change, the most important difference is between the rainy/dry seasons & high/low seasons.
January and February are the peak visitation periods, as both the Brazilians and Argentinians are on holiday. During the summer, the water volume is high, and the sky tends to be bluer. However, the heat, humidity and hotel occupation are at their highest. The week over Easter is the most visited time of the year. Although not as popular, visiting the falls during the rainy season, June-August is still common due to the high water levels and strong flow. The months of September and October provide the best opportunity to experience the falls, as the temperature is more moderate, hotel prices are more economical and there are fewer people around.
We visited in March, right after the summer rush. We were unlucky to receive torrential rain during our visit on the Argentina side of the falls but we were still able to see the difference of the two sides and get completely soaking wet whilst doing so.
Visiting the falls
Allow at least two days to visit the waterfalls and if possible, try to visit both sides. Each side offers a very different perspective. On the Argentine side, you can explore through a lot of walking trails through the park’s rainforest and experience the full power of the rushing waters. Experiencing the falls properly on the Argentinean side could easily take 6+ hours. The Brazilian side, however, offers complete panoramic and full frontal views of the various waterfalls and could be done in as short as a few hours.
How to experience the best of both sides
- We highly recommend taking the Nautical Adventure boat tour for 350 ARS (USD $23) with Iguazu Jungle. This is the closest you will ever get to the falls and it was one of our highlights. We were absolutely drenched from head to toe and it didn’t help it was pouring rain on top of it. Thankfully they will give you a waterproof bag to put your belongings in but don’t be afraid to get wet yourself! They also offer 4X4 Drives, local boat rides down the river and nature walks. During high season, it is recommended to pre-book these tours a day in advance to guarantee your time spot.
- There are a lot of walking paths on the Argentinean side of the falls and if it’s a nice day you could spend 6+ hours walking around the park. There is a train that makes 3 stops from the beginning of the park all the way to the top of the park. Take your time exploring the upper and lower trails.
- Garganta del Diablo aka Devils Throat. This is the main attraction of the Argentine side. Take the free train to the Devils Throat Station and walk the 1.2 km walk to the edge of the Devils Throat. This lookout gives the best opportunity to watch the water rush from the river and down an 80 meter (262 feet) high sheer drop. It is advised to view Devils Throat in the afternoon, as the sun will have risen above the falls by then. If you visit Devils Throat in the morning, the view will likely be disturbed by the glare of the sun. Don’t forget to cover your cameras and valuables, you will get wet!
- Macuco Safari offers a few different tours on the Brazilian side. You can check out everything they offer here.
- If you feel like breaking the bank a little bit, helicopter flights over the park are available (& only from the Brazilian side) and depart from the Visitor Center. I wish we could say we did this, but unfortunately, it wasn’t in our budget! The ride will last only 15 minutes or so but hey if you have the $$ then why not! Find more information on the Helisul website or ask at the tourist information desk when you arrive.
- Walk out onto the Devils Throat and feel the mist splash against you.
- Eat the buffet at the end of the walking trail for 52 BRL (USD $ 13). Nice range of food and right on the lake. Be aware of the Coati, an animal who will snatch up your food the second you stop looking. Do not try and feed them or you’ll get bitten and they are filled with diseases.
BRAZIL VS ARGENTINA
It’s hard to say which one we like better however, the weather played a big role in our visits to the park. If we had had perfect weather when visiting both sides, our opinion would be the Argentinean side. Why? There are many more walking paths, viewing points, the up close boat ride and the accessibility to be so close at many different view points however because of torrential rain, it really limited what we could see on the Argentinean side.
Brazil, on the other hand, gave us perfect weather and offered awesome panoramic views of the falls but lacked more to do. If you can get to both, do it. If not and you had to choose, head to Argentina. You could easily spend 6 hours there providing the weather is on your side.
Married days survived; 366