Iguazú Falls: Expert tips
The statistics are mind-boggling enough. Brazil and Argentina’s most phenomenal natural highlight, Iguazú Falls, consists of 276 separate falls crashing over an 80m high, rainforest-fringed granite cliff over a length of 2.7km. The energy is palpable: the water roars and foams; taste it on your lips as you peer into a frothing cauldron in the river below. It’s indisputably one of the world’s “must-sees”, and you’ll want to plan your visit well to get the most out of the experience.
Not wanting to sound smug about it, I have to say that I have visited the falls dozens of times, and seen it from all its perspectives, at every time of year and at every time of day. Sometimes in the rainy season the falls have so much water all the cascades seem to merge into one, in drier months you see a spidery web of streams descending against the red, rocky cliff face. But it’s a great sight at any time of the year.
You can stay on either the Brazilian or the Argentinian side of the border. The site is protected by national parks in both countries and hotel construction is severely limited. This is good news for the visitor’s experience, but makes your choice more crucial.
You will be able to visit both sides. It is usually recommended to visit the Brazilian side first, as from there you get a perspective over the whole length of the falls, a panoramic view. A couple of hours will suffice. On the Argentine side - 80% of the falls are here - you get a more intimate experience, as the walkways take you along the bottom, over the top and even behind a series of falls: you really need a whole day to properly visit. There are additional activities on both sides too: zip lines, jungle safaris, boat trips.
Fancy avoiding the crowds? Most people staying outside the park start arriving mid-morning. If you stay at one of the two luxury hotels close to the falls in the national parks, the Sheraton in Argentina or the Belmond Cataratas in Brazil, you can venture out before breakfast when the park officially opens and be virtually alone. An early morning walk or jog alongside the railway track in Argentina takes you to the famous Garganta del Diablo, or Devil’s Throat, where you can observe the fury of the river thundering into a depthless chasm in solitude. *On the Brazilian side, a stay at the Belmond means that you can be rewarded with a view over the falls at sunrise.
I’d recommend a stay of at least two nights to fully explore. Iguazú Falls is both an excellent family destination and set up to welcome those with mobility problems, including wheel-chair users. I envy those of you who are going to see them for the first time...
Our Signature Argentina and Brazil: Amazon, Pantanal and Iguazú Falls holidays is a great option for those wanting to explore the falls.
Last updated: 16 Jun 2017
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