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The waterfalls of Iguazu: here’s how to visit this impressive natural wonder

by Sabine
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I visited Iguazu Falls in 2007 for the first time, during a backpacking trip through Argentina and Uruguay. Now, 10 years later, it’s time for a second visit. During our few months in Buenos Aires, I flew to Puerto Iguazo to admire this natural wonder for the second time. As far as I am concerned, Argentina is among one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and almost nothing I can remember as vividly as the Iguazu falls. And this particular natural wonder was something I wanted to experience again. I was a little bit afraid it would be less spectacular the second time around. But of course: nothing was further from the truth. Today I take you to both the Brazilian and Argentine sides of Iguazu Falls, introduce you to an extraordinary natural phenomenon and give you many travel tips for Iguazu.

The waterfalls of Iguazu

The Iguazu Falls are the largest waterfalls in South America and are located on the border of Argentina and Brazil. The entire complex consists of 270 to 300 waterfalls, depending on the amount of water flowing through the river, is up to 82 meters high and covers a total of 2.7 kilometers, including many small islands.

Iguazu Falls are among the largest in the world, but Victoria Falls just barely wins out. The Niagara Falls on the border of the U.S. and Canada are less than a kilometer wide between them, making them smaller. Iguazu Falls are certainly very accessible compared to Victoria Falls, and thus easy to visit.


The Brazilian side of Iguazu: Cataratas do Iguaçu

Right after we arrived, we drove straight to Brazil (see below for explanation and tips). This side in particular gives a good overview of the immense waterfalls and so you have beautiful views.

By bus, you get off right next to the falls and walk with the many other visitors toward the place where it all happens. Soon the first waterfalls can be seen. As are beautiful birds, by the way. For example, we see a toucan just above us in the tree (see third photo below).

As we continue down the path, the noise of the thundering water becomes louder and louder. At each viewpoint, we marvel at the beauty of this place.


A walkway into the falls

Until we arrive at one of the three most extraordinary view points in all of Iguazu: the footbridge over the water. The camera goes away and the rain poncho on, because once on that bridge, nothing stays dry.

It is so tremendously impressive, as if we were standing in the waterfall! Unbelievable what gigantic amounts of water comes down there. It is so overwhelming to stand there, almost beyond description. Soaking wet we get off the bridge again and by now Jimmy understands why he had to see this: this is spectacular!


The view tower over the Iguazu falls

On the Brazilian side of Iguazu is a tall observation tower. After first standing in line for half an hour, we take the elevator up. Once at the top, we found out that you can also just walk via the other side and thus don’t need the elevator at all. But oh well, none of it matters. For this view we have much to spare: how wonderful!

We see the falls from above, the Devils Throat, the Argentine side, everything. The sun coloring the thundering water so beautifully yellow, and the people below now getting soaking wet after us. So beautiful!


Back to Argentina again

After the observation tower, we have seen everything and decide to eat and drink at the restaurant with a view of the falls. There is more to do, such as guided hikes (which cost extra money, of course), but we don’t have time for that. After walking around full of admiration for a few hours, we leave this side of the falls and drive back to Argentina.


The Argentinean side of Iguazu falls: Cataratas del Iguazú

The second day we leave earlier for the Argentine side, which is larger than the Brazilian side and therefore takes more time. So we also spend pretty much all day in this beautiful part and discover the falls from a completely different angle.

On this side you have to hike more and here it feels more like standing in the falls, but you have fewer places to get an overview of the whole thing. There are several hikes to do that are clearly marked with colors on the map. We did all the hiking trails so we saw everything.


The hikes on the Argentine side of Iguazu

Over bridges through the rainforest or across the water you walk from viewpoint to viewpoint. You can also take a free boat crossing to San Martín Island for beautiful views of the Argentine side. Absolutely worth it! Sometimes it is not necessary, but usually we take out our rain cape to avoid getting all wet from the thundering water. Today there are bright blue skies, which also produces beautiful pictures with rainbows!


The Devil’s Mouth

The most impressive part of the Argentine side is the Garganta del Diablo, or, the Devil’s Throat. Here you come out after a slightly longer hike, after which you suddenly find yourself on the edge of a bizarre piece of waterfall. With immense force, water thunders down here from 82 meters high from three sides. You are so close to the edge, really quite exciting. Meanwhile, your view is obstructed by the fog of falling water. But that doesn’t bother, because this is really quite special!


Where to stay in Puerto Iguazú?

There is a lot of choice for hostels and hotels in Puerto Iguazú. We chose a beautiful bed and breakfast where I could have stayed much longer.

The Secret Garden Iguazú lives up to its name: from the front you see nothing, but once you walk through the gate you enter a hidden garden filled with hummingbirds and other little birds, and a cute little blue house with three rooms. F

rom breakfast you have a nice view over the garden with a free live bird show. Wonderful! The owner, John, is from India and is very hospitable. Once you arrive, he first takes you in the car for a tour of Puerto Iguazú, so you know where to find what, and explains all kinds of things about the town. And when you return after a day of hiking along the falls, delicious Indian snacks and a drink will be waiting for you.

John joins us cozily and enjoys talking about his life and about this beautiful place.

They also offer transportation to and from the airport and to and from the Brazilian side of the falls (25 euros round trip). The room is very clean, there is hot water, the bed is lovely and for the hot days there is also air conditioning. Highly recommended!


Visit the waterfalls of Iguazu: practical information

Prices and opening hours Iguazu falls

The Brazilian side is open every day from 9 AM to 5 PM and costs 83 Brazilian Real. The Argentine side opens at 8 AM, closes at 6 PM and costs 25 euros. More information on the Brazilian side can be found here, for the Argentinian side click here. See the links for current prices and opening hours.

How to get to Puerto Iguazú?

If you are traveling through Argentina, it depends a bit on where you are when you go to Iguazu. The falls are all the way north, so it will often be a long way. You can easily get there by bus from Buenos Aires, though it takes about 18 hours. If you don’t have that time or simply don’t want to spend that long on the bus, you can also book a domestic flight. We flew with Latam and paid 400 euros per person. I should add that we booked only two days in advance, so perhaps it could be cheaper.

How much time do you need for Iguazu?

If you literally want to see everything, you will need half a day on the Brazilian side and a full day on the Argentine side. Since you will be there anyway, it is better not to do both in one day, that’s just a waste of time and this beautiful place. Take your time and do it right the first time. On the Argentine side you have to walk a lot and sometimes wait because of lots of tourists, so leave on time to get the most out of your day. So you need at least two days.

Is it really necessary to see both sides?

If you want to experience Iguazu in its entirety and intensely, absolutely go to both sides! They are both very different and so you get a different feel and view of the falls. Besides, you probably won’t get to Iguazu every day, so it might be better to do it right the first time and thus take a little more time.

From one side to the other

Where you stay doesn’t matter much: you can easily cross the border. There are buses and plenty of private cabs happy to take and pick you up. Since we didn’t have that much time, we took a cab from the Bed & Breakfast. That was very nice and easy. At the border you get a stamp and back again. And so then in no time you are across the border.

Best travel time for Iguazu falls

The best travel time for Iguazu is in the summer (November through February), as it rains more and thus the falls are more intense. However, then it is also busier because of the Argentine vacation and high season and thus it rains more. I have been twice in the Argentine winter and even then it is very impressive.

What clothes do you bring?

Although you are in the tropics, it is not very warm in the Argentine winter. During the day when the sun is shining you can easily walk in shorts, but especially in the morning and evening or when it is cloudy, it is quite chilly. So then bring a jacket and something warmer. In the park you can buy a raincoat, you can of course use it for both sides, so don’t throw it away after using it.

On the Argentine side: by train or walking?

To get to the Devil’s Throat, almost everyone goes by train. Probably because almost no one knows that you can also just walk there. There are so many people at the little train and you always have to wait before you can get in, so it’s almost even faster to walk. You just walk next to the trail and after about 2 kilometers you arrive at the bridge that goes to the Devil’s Throat. We walked both there and back and is a nice alternative!

Food and wildlife

Although there are many tourists, you really are in the middle of the rainforest. That means there are animals that you should especially not disturb and certainly not feed. Unfortunately there are many tourists who do, with the result that on the terraces at the restaurants you have to be very careful that a monkey does not jump on your table and snatch your sandwich out of your hands. I saw this happening next to me and then we went inside to eat.

Continue your tour of Argentina

We visited Iguazu during 2 months Buenos Aires on a weekend trip by plane. But you can also fit Iguazu very well into a roundtrip Argentina trip. Check here how to continue your tour of Argentina!


Are you ever in the area? Then be sure to visit the waterfalls of Iguazu! No matter how many pictures you’ve seen and stories you’ve heard, this natural wonder is so impressive, you really have to experience it for yourself!

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