Iguazú Falls: Unmissable experiences
Whether visiting the Iguazú Falls has pride of place on your bucket list or you’re simply keen to see the gems of South America, this natural wonder is utterly arresting.
The Iguazú Falls are one of the most remarkable natural wonders in South America and, indeed, the world. A visit to this spectacular attraction is something that everyone should complete at least once in their lifetime, and it’s a prime spot to include on tours of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.
Today, we will be looking in detail at what the falls have to offer, not only as a site of immense natural beauty, but also as a place where you can enjoy unforgettable activities and extend your visit into other countries.
About Iguazú Falls
Located in Iguazú / Iguaçu National Park, the falls sit on the border of Brazil and Argentina. As such, each country possesses a portion of the falls and offers quite a different experience of them – something we will look at in more depth in a moment.
Their sheer scale is such that it is hard to comprehend – even when you have seen them for yourself. Consisting of approximately 275 individual falls, this natural wonder spans roughly 3 km, creating spectacular panoramas when viewed from Brazil and amazing up-close experiences when observed in Argentina.
The name Iguazú means ‘great waters’ in the indigenous language – an apt title indeed. You will notice it is spelled slightly differently depending on where you are. In Argentina, it is spelt Iguazú; in Brazil, Iguaçu.
While the falls themselves are the star attraction, they are not the only thing worth observing in Iguazú National Park. The cascades are surrounded by swathes of tropical rainforest, which provide a habitat for an array of colourful birds. Look out for toucans, parakeets and parrots, which are all relatively easy to spot.
There are also some fantastic hotels near the falls – in fact, there is even one which offers rooms with views of it! We recommend staying at a hotel within the national parks otherwise you will need to spend time getting to and from the attraction each day.
Among the best accommodation is the Belmond Das Cataratas Hotel within the Brazilian National Park, just a short walk from the Brazilian side of the Falls. While on the Argentine side, the Sheraton Iguazu, in the Argentinian National Park, has public areas with vistas of the falls, as do some of the guest rooms, which is the ultimate treat.
As we mentioned above, the falls offer different views and experiences depending on where you’re standing. So, we recommend viewing them from both Argentina and Brazil to have the most well-rounded visit.
However, whether you opt to stay on the Argentine or Brazilian side won’t actually make a significant impact on your trip. What’s important is that you stay for long enough to enjoy what each side has to offer; typically, this can be achieved comfortably with a two-night stay.
The Brazilian side is where you get the vast, dramatic panoramas of the falls. If you’re hoping to get some truly stunning shots of Iguazu, then this is the place to do it. Once you move across to Argentina, the view becomes very different.
Indeed, rather than sweeping panoramas, you will be greeted by a much more close-up experience. The Argentine side allows for far closer exploration of the falls, to the extent where there are even walkways that allow you to stroll around them, rather than simply gaze in awe from far away. Located on different levels, these walkways give you the opportunity to see the falls from above, as well as at ground level, which means they are ideal for getting different perspectives.
There is even a walkway over the Devil’s Throat, which is one of the most famous of the falls. Traversing this is truly unforgettable, making it an absolute must for your itinerary.
Activities around the Iguazú Falls
Such is the majesty of the falls that it would be quite easy to while away your days here doing nothing more than staring in awe and ambling along the walkways. However, as there are some tremendous activities on offer, it is very much worth organising a little something extra.
One thing you can do on both the Argentine and Brazilian sides of the falls is take a boat trip along the river, which will lead you right up to the base of the falls. Hearing the roar of the water, feeling the spray on your face (we recommend you wear a poncho or another kind of waterproof) and gazing up at the hundreds of falls above you truly is a once in a lifetime experience.
For something a little bit different, full moons walks are fabulous. Of course, you need to be visiting at the right time of the month and the conditions must be good in order to take part. Typically, these excursions will take place on several evenings around the full moon and offer even more dramatic views of the falls with straddling silver rainbows and glowing full moon hanging in a black canopy of stars at its background.
Should you wish to really treat yourself, book a helicopter flight over the falls. As with the full moon walks, this can be arranged locally and offers simply spectacular views – and of course, the unique sensation of helicopter flight will be memorable in itself.
The Iguazú Falls are also situated on the border with Paraguay, which makes a detour into this country a simple addition to any Iguazú itinerary. In fact, it is perfectly feasible to visit as a day trip, however you might want to dedicate a few days to give yourself an opportunity to explore a few more of its attractions.
Just across the border from Iguazú is Paraguay’s Itaipu Dam which, upon its construction, was the largest dam on the planet. Built to stem the flow of the Parana River, it helps fuel Itaipu power plant. To get the best view, visit the Central Belvedere.
Make your way further into the country and you will be able to visit some of the ancient ruined missions that are a vestige of the early 1600s, when Jesuit missionaries established these towns in order to convert the locals. Today, they are one of the country’s most interesting attractions, and can be visited en route to the capital city, Asuncion. Spend a day or two in lively Asuncion, exploring its mix of colonial heritage and modern culture, and making a visit to the nearby Lago Ypacarai.
Cox & Kings runs group or private tours to Argentina and Brazil, along with tailor-made holidays to Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, where you can create your own bespoke itinerary to the falls, alongside other attractions. Visit the Cox & Kings website or call 020 7873 5000 for more details.