Iguazu Falls are one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world and I was awed by its beauty when I saw the vastness and intensity of the falls and how it spreads across the landscape. Iguazu falls is really wide when you view it end to end and is split into around 275 distinct falls spread across Argentina and Brazil.
Iguazu Falls are waterfalls of the Iguazu River on the border of the Argentine province of Misiones and the Brazilian state of Parana. Together, they make up the largest waterfall in the world. The name Iguazu comes from the Guarani word which means big water.
Upon seeing Iguazu, Eleanor Roosevelt was reportedly to have exclaimed, “Poor Niagara!” You’ll feel it too when you stand beneath the falls on the Brazilian side or near to the Devil’s Throat on the Argentine side.
About Iguazu Falls
The Iguazu Falls are located where the Iguazu River falls over the edge of the Parana Plateau, and flows downstream to it’s confluence with the Parana River. The junction where the water flows downstream is the border between Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay.
There are many islands along 2.7 kilometre long edge of the Iguazu falls, which divide the falls into many waterfalls and cataracts, each with varying heights. The number of these waterfalls also varies between 200-300 depending on the season and the water levels. The Iguazu Falls has a staircase sort of structure and consists of a two-step waterfall formed by layers of basalt.
About half of the Iguazu river’s flow falls into the Devil’s Throat (called Garganta del Diablo in Spanish or Garganta do Diabo in Portuguese). There are other huge falls on the Argentine side, called San Martin, Adam and Eva, Penoni and many others.
Iguazu Falls across Brazil and Argentina
The falls are shared by the Iguazu National Park (Argentina) and Iguacu National Park (Brazil). Both National Parks are designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The falls divide the Iguazu river into Upper and Lower Iguazu. The Iguazu River flows mostly through Brazil; however, most of the waterfalls are on the Argentine side. The Iguazu River forms the border between Argentina and Brazil which runs through the Devil’s Throat.
The Brazilian side covers more than 95% of the Iguazu River but around 20% of the waterfalls, while the Argentine side has around 80% of the waterfalls.
The breadth of the Argentine waterfalls can be viewed best from the Brazilian side, but to experience the waterfalls closely you have to enjoy these from the Argentine side. So it’s a must that you visit both sides to truly appreciate this natural wonder.
I visited both sides of the falls and the border crossing between Argentina and Brazil was one of the smoothest I have ever experienced. There are border check posts on both sides where passports are checked and stamped.
The Bridge which you have to cross over the Iguazu river if you travel by road across these two countries is called the Tancredo Neves Bridge, also known as the Friendship Bridge. The blue and white Argentina flag colours on the bridge edge changes to Yellow and Green Brazilian flag colours around the middle of the bridge to indicate you have now crossed the international border.
Once you are at the entrance and got your park entrance tickets, there are buses which take you to various points within the park from where you can walk the main trail towards the waterfalls.
Other than the gorgeous waterfalls, do lookout for the beautiful toucans, coatis, capuchin monkeys, as you walk inside the park towards the falls. Enjoy the breadth of the Argentine falls from the Brazilian side.
A walkway allows a panoramic view of the falls on the Brazilian side and also has an extension to the lower base of Devil’s Throat. Be ready to get wet and enjoy nature at its best. I was lucky enough to experience light rain on the day I visited and that led to a rainbow along the falls, which was really beautiful.
You should allow around 3-4 hours to visit the park and the falls.
Iguazu Falls must be visited from both Brazilian and Argentine side to truly appreciate its vastness and beauty. There are clearly marked trails within the national park. On the upper trail you can enjoy the falls from the top where the lower trails takes you close to the bottom of the falls. Both offer spectacular views and you must try to cover all the trails. Coatis, various birds, butterflies are a common sight within the park.
The walkways within the Argentine side are through the stretches of the falls across the national park. They also lead to the boats which goes to San Martin Island. There are also inflatable boats which you can take if you are adventurous to get very close to the falls.
The most exciting part of the Argentine side is the Devil’s Throat (Garganta del Diablo in Spanish or Garganta do Diabo in Portuguese). There is an Ecological train which takes you close to the 1 km long Paseo Garganta del Diablo trail leading directly over the falls of Devil’s Throat. This is the highest and deepest of the Iguazu falls
You should allow around 5-6 hours to cover the three main trails and the falls.
- Iguazu Falls have two international airports nearby: the Argentine Cataratas del Iguazú International Airport (IGR) and the Brazilian Foz do Iguaçu International Airport (IGU).
- There are hotels within the National Parks on both the Brazilian and Argentinean side. The best part of staying in such a hotel that you will be within the national park even after all the visitors have left.
- Both parks have entrance fees
- You can carry a light waterproof jacket when you go near the falls in case you don’t want to get wet.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes and be prepared for rains. Whatever the weather you’ll enjoy the falls from both sides.
- The climate is quite hot and humid, so wear comfortable clothes.
- There are cafes, toilet and locker facilities at the main entrances to the parks from where you’ll buy the park entrance tickets.
- Both Cash and Cards are widely accepted.
- And don’t forget your sunscreen and mosquito repellent!
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