Visiting the Iguazú Falls was on my bucket list for a long time. When backpacking through South America I had to include this somehow. As my time was restricted my only solution was to visit the falls by plane from Buenos Aires.
The falls are the largest waterfalls system in the world and it’s no surprise why they are classified as UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the 7 Wonders of the Natural World.
I can tell you it did not disappoint in the single detail; in fact, the waterfalls are so majestically powerful that I almost miss the words to describe it!
The Iguazú National Park on the Argentinian side and the Iguaçu National Park on the Brazilian side share the falls at the border and have different things to do.
If you have some time it’s a good experience to visit both sides but for this article I will be talking more about the Iguazú National Park and my experience there.
WHY VISIT THE IGUAZÚ FALLS?
There are many reasons that drive people to visit the Iguazú Falls every day, some to experience the natural beauty of the place, other seek some adrenaline as you can go very close to the waterfalls by boat but most of all to see how nature can be so incredible and create such a spectacle of waterfalls.
The falls are four times as wide as Niagara Falls with a collection of 275 waterfalls all over the park with several heights and widths with most of it being on the Argentinian side.
The tallest waterfall it’s Garganta del Diablo or the Devil’s Throat that is shared between Argentina and Brazil and for me, the most impressive one.
The rainforest including the park and surroundings is a protected rainforest ecosystem with about 2000 plant species and 400 bird species like parrots and toucans. As you arrive to the park there is a lot of information about all the animals and maybe you will be lucky and spot a jaguar or a puma!
The Iguazú Falls are located about 20Km from Puerto Iguazú in Misiones Province north of Argentina, making border with the Brazilian state of Paraná.
GETTING YOUR TICKETS
It’s important to pre-purchase your ticket if you want to really enjoy every minute of the day inside the park. I went during the week and there was still a long queue so I was happy that I got it in advance. You can buy your ticket online here.
For adults the price is ARS 500 or USD 28.
Getting there is relatively easy and there are many points of access as the falls are located in a tri-border between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. The most usual way people get there is either from the Brazilian town Foz do Iguaçu or from Puerto Iguazú, the Argentinian town.
Both the Brazilian and Argentinean towns have airports very close to the falls.
I flew directly from Buenos Aires to Iguazú Airport with the company Aerolineas Argentinas and the journey was about 2 hours. From there we took a taxi straight to the park.
If you’re on a long trip and have lots of time, bus is the most affordable option. You can get a bus from central Buenos Aires in Retiro station that takes about 18 hours and you can also maximize your trip by buying a bed seat which will allow you to get some sleep before you arrive to Puerto Iguazú.
It’s a good option if you have a lot of time as you will be able to explore things at your own pace and stop whenever you want. It will also make it reasonably easy for you to visit both sides of the falls. Just be aware to check with you car company about crossing the borders, as you need special authorizations because of the insurances they have on the cars.
If you’re just staying around the falls for some time in one of the hotels you can easily walk to the park to explore every fall inside.
The best way to move around is by walking. At the entrance you can get a map with all the foot trails that you can take along the park. On the Argentinian side there is a train line that takes you straight from the entrance to the beginning of the trail to the Devil’s Throat waterfall.
THINGS TO DO IN THE IGUAZÚ FALLS
There is lot to do and see while inside the park and I’m sure if you’re going for a day like I did you won’t run out of things to do! When planning your trip consider the opening hours of the park: 8am to 6pm and plan it accordingly so you don’t miss the different trails.
Guides are available in the park but I don’t really think it’s necessary. If you get a map at the entrance everything you need to know is there and along the trails there are also a lot of signs for you to follow.
I would start by getting the Jungle Train to the Falls Station where you can then continue either to the Lower Circuit trail or Upper Circuit trail. You can do this by foot but the train ride is really enjoyable with lots of vegetation to see along the way.
To explain it better, there are five main tracks within the park and in one day we covered three of them, the same ones that we have planned on seeing.
1. Garganta del Diablo – Devil’s Throat
Devil’s Throat was our first stop in the park as it was one of the first things that made me want to visit the park. We took the train to Devil’s Throat Station and then after that it’s a walk of about 1, 2 Km on a very beautiful trail crossing the river until the platform to see the waterfall.
Once there it’s incredible! The waterfall is a powerful force dropping down 80 meters on a high speed. It’s no surprise that this is the biggest attraction of the Iguazú Falls.
2. Circuito Superior – Upper Circuit
We continued to visit the Upper Circuit to see the upper waterfalls. It’s a really relaxing walk because of the many animals, flowers and trees. It took us about one hour and half which by then we were ready for lunch!
3. Circuito Inferior – Lower Circuit
After lunch we made our way down to the Lower Circuit. It’s even more beautiful as you go down in my opinion as it’s very fresh by the river and the rainforest vegetation really gives the sensation you are out and about in the jungle.
From there you can catch a free ferry to San Martin Island where you can sunbathe and even swim in the river. This is also the place to get a speed boat to go under the falls.
During the Lower Circuit trail you can get a speed boat that goes under the falls. The ride it’s very quick but full of adrenaline! Be sure to leave just your swimwear or clothes that you will change after as you end up drenched in water.
Look out for all the animals around. I spotted beautiful reptiles, insects and butterflies. There are also many other animals but mostly you will see the raccoons and a lot of different trees and flowers.
I leave you a map of the park that includes all the trails for your trip planning, here.
EAT AND DRINK
There are food areas inside the park mostly located near the Visitor Centre and Falls Station; however most of them have overpriced snacks. We took our own snacks, lunch and drinks and did not regret our decision. Make sure you pack a big bottle of water to keep hydrated during the trails.
A quick side note is to be careful with the monkeys and raccoons when eating in these places. In the afternoon we stopped for an ice cream and one the raccoons stole it from me!
WHAT TO WEAR WHEN VISITING THE IGUAZÚ FALLS
The environment in the park is humid, typical from a rainforest climate. When exposed to the sun it was very strong and hot so the first thing I would recommend it to pack sunscreen and reapply during the day.
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes easy for walking. In most of the trails you can even opt for flip flops.
Pack your swimsuit with you and a waterproof jacket if you’re planning to go on the speedboat under the falls.
I took one of these plastic ponchos with me and it did help to protect me. On these boats they give you a big waterproof bag to put your camera and other valuables on, so need to worry with that.
The Iguazú Falls is one of the most beautiful places I have seen and if you are in Argentina and have some time I really recommend a visit. To explore the park you will always need a day and if you can two days is the best to see everything. The Devil’s Throat and the boat ride were the highlights of my trip there.