Witness the Iconic Iguazu Falls

Eleanor Hughes


Created in 1939, Parque Nacional Iguazú comprises 67,720 hectares and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also home to the famous Iguazú Falls situated on the border of Argentina and Brazil. Plan at least a day on each side to get different views of the falls and partake in a number of experiences.

How to See the Falls

The Argentinian side of Parque Nacional Iguazú is located nearby the town of Puerto Iguazú, the international airport being Andresito Airport. The Brazilian side of the park is close to Foz do Igauçu, serviced by Cataratas International Airport.

Public transport is available from each town to the corresponding country’s park entrance.

To visit both sides of the falls involves at least one border crossing. Visitors could base themselves on either the Argentinian or Brazilian side and day trip to the other side crossing the border and returning later the same day, or visit one side and then move on to the other. Border crossings can take several hours, depending on how busy they are.

Hotels are situated within the park with Gran Melia Iguazú, on the Argentinian side and on the Brazilian, Belmond Hotel das Cataratas. Staying within the park allows visitors longer to experience all that’s on offer with many rooms offering views of the falls.There is a charge to enter either side of the park, with extra costs for optional tours. Restaurants are available.

On the Argentinian Side

Parque Nacional Iguazú is open from 8a.m. to 6p.m. The Argentinian side of the park has possibly the most picturesque views of the falls being much closer to them than the Brazilian side is. A 1.4 kilometre lower circuit offers views of two smaller waterfalls, the Lower Iguazú River, and mid-point views of the semicircle of falls including San Martiín Falls. It leads to speedboat rides on the Lower Iguazú River.

The upper circuit, a 1550 metre walk leads to a number of lookouts along the top of the semicircle of falls.

A train transports visitors through rainforest to a boardwalk crossing the slow-moving Upper Iguazú River ending at the top of thundering Garganta del Diablo, the Devil’s Throat.

A number of tours are available. The Great Adventure, a bilingual tour, takes visitors for a 5 kilometre jungle drive and a 6 kilometre boat ride on the narrow Lower Iguazú River which includes 2 kilometres of rapids. The boat reaches Tres Mosqueteros Fall, where visitors can see both the Argentine and Brazilian falls with a view of the Garganta del Diablo. The boat ride continues to face San Martín waterfall, then navigates 6km down river back to Puerto Macuco where trucks transport visitors another 6 kilometres to end the 2 ¼ hour tour. 

On the Brazilian Side

With gates opening at 9a.m., closing at 5p.m., the first shuttle leaves the Visitor Centre at 9a.m. For visitors staying in the park, the last one leaves the far end of the park at 6.30p.m. There are a number of stops along the way to partake in optional tours, not included in the park ticket price.

The stop at Poço Preto gives access to a 9 kilometre guided trail which can be biked or walked. It leads to the river where boat rides to Taquara Island are available with a kayaking option. Along the trail is a wildlife observatory and Black Well Lake.

Macuco Safari Stop is for an optional tour involving a 3 kilometre trail. Visitors are transported along it in carts towed by an electric car leading to a boat ride going up the Iguaçu River towards the Devil’s Mouth, the largest of the falls.

Bananeiras Trail Tour Stop accesses a 1.6 kilometre walk through the forest for a speedboat or rowboat trip on the Upper Iguaçu River.

The Path of the Falls stop is the most popular. The trail gives a number of panoramic views of the falls, made up of many small ones, across the river to the opposite Argentinian side. The trail ends at the Mirador Garganta del Diablo, the Devil’s Throat. Be prepared to be drenched by the spray coming off the roaring waterfalls which thunder down 80 metres from the 90 metre mouth. It’s a magnificent sight.

The Path of the Falls also gives access to the Field of Challenges which involves adventure activities such as a canopy tour including a climbing wall and zipline, rock climbing, rappelling 55 metres with views of the falls and rafting four kilometres down the rapids. 

The Falls by Helicopter

On the Brazilian side, helicopter rides are available from just outside the park entrance. The ten-minute flights with Helisul take five passengers at a time over the falls area. It’s a great way to get a perspective of the sheer size of the park with its 275 waterfalls within the subtropical Paranaense Rainforest. The brown Iguazú River looks placid cutting between swathes of greenery before tumbling down into the canyon throwing up spray which resembles low-lying cloud. The helicopter banks steeply, tips forward and is like a roller-coaster ride at times, but with amazing views.   

The Falls by Boat – Argentinian Side

There are a number of boat rides available on both sides of the park.

One of the best is the speedboat ride on the Argentinian side, reached from the lower circuit walk. The boat ride goes to two spots, the first leaves passengers lightly sprinkled from the spray coming off the falls. All belongings then go into a dry bag before getting up close to the second spot, San Martín Waterfall (the second largest falls in the park) where it’s like having buckets of water continuously thrown at you. Given the temperatures, it’s not so bad wandering in drenched clothes... and you do get wet again viewing the Garganta del Diablo.

It is also possible to go onto San Martín Island by way of boat to walk a circular 700 metre trail with a lookout facing San Martín Fall.

The Ecological Tour is a 3 kilometre boat journey along the shallow Upper Iguazú River amongst jungle. The thirty minute trip is led by Spanish-speaking guides.

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