Planning to go to the Iguazu Falls? Not sure how long to spend there or what to see? Here are my top 5 tips for a fantastic visit.
“You will get a thorough soaking at the Iguazu Falls,” Tom warns me before I leave for Argentina.
“Puerto Iguazu is a dump, but you will only need one day to see both sides of the Falls” adds Alan. “Oh … and watch out for those racoon type creatures!”
Sage words of advice to prepare me for a trip to these world-famous waterfalls, straddling the border between Argentina and Brazil? Let’s find out with my top 5 tips for visiting the Falls.
1. Allow enough time to visit the Argentinian side of the Iguazu Falls
Your $25 admission ticket gives you access to five different trails, ranging from 600m to 7km in length. I spent around six hours inside the park but didn’t have enough time to check out every trail and take the boat ride. I certainly wouldn’t recommend visiting both sides of the Iguazu Falls in one day! Sorry Alan.
This maze of walkways on the Argentinian side allows you get close up and personal to the falls. For an overall panoramic view, follow the green trail from the Visitors Centre, and the take the shortest trail, the upper trail (Circuito Superior).
Then take the lower trail (Circuito Inferior), a 1.6km romp through the forest leading to some of the parks most spectacular waterfalls, including Salto Ramirez and Bossetti.
Make sure that you build in time to take the train to the Devil’s Throat (Garganta Del Diablo) station. From there, walk on wooden platforms suspended over the churning waters to reach the Devil’s Throat. Dozens of powerful waterfalls converge in a horseshoe shape, and it is tricky to distinguish mist from water. Multicolour butterflies flutter around your face, vivid against the dazzling opacity of the falls. And yes … you will get drenched! One point to Tom.
2. See the bigger picture from the Brazilian side of the Iguazu Falls
Go across the border for an unforgettable panoramic view. In exchange for $22 of your hard-earned cash, you get access to Trilha das Cataratas. This is a 1km trail with sweeping views of the falls leading you right into the Devil’s Throat. Unmissable.
For an extra cost, other activities are available (e.g. kayaking, boat ride, jeep tour through the park).
3. Don’t forget to look at the wildlife around the falls
I know that the main reason for visiting Iguazu Falls is to wonder at their power and beauty. But the wildlife is a bonus, and I will never forget the butterflies, dancing around my face in a riot of kaleidoscopic colours. Or the toucans soaring high above the pathway to the Devil’s Throat on the Brazilian side. And let’s not forget those pesky coatis, racoon-like beasties that roam the park and will gladly relieve you of your lunch. The vicious little buggers bite too!
4. Try to allow at least two full days for your visit
There are two reasons for this. Firstly, ideally, you need a day for each side of the falls. But secondly, as the weather is extremely unpredictable, I advise building in some wiggle-room. Whilst the falls are spectacular in the sunshine, walking around them in the torrential rain would diminish the experience. Don’t put yourself into a position where you have to choose between the two sides.
5. Puerto Iguazu is a dump: stay out of town
Alan was right! Compared with other tourist hubs in Argentina – take a bow, El Calafate and Bariloche – Puerto Iguazu leaves much to be desired. Do yourself a favour; splash the cash and stay in one of the resort-type hotels in the jungle on the way out to the falls.
The practical stuff
- You can base yourself in either Foz Iguazu in Brazil and Puerto Iguazu in Argentina to visit either side of the Falls. I stayed at La Cantera Lodge. Although more expensive than accommodation in Puerto Iguazu, it is a mid-range option in a great setting.
- I used the hotel’s transfer service to get to the Argentinian side. It cost $12. Buses from Puerto Iguazu’s station also go to the Falls.
- I splashed the cash and took a taxi to the Brazilian side of the Falls. It cost $37 for the return journey. With two sets of immigration to navigate there and back and a very helpful driver to guide me, this was well worth it. Again, you can get the bus from Puerto Iguazu. Many nationalities will require a visa to cross over to the Brazilian side. Check before you head off.
With thanks to Alan and Tom!
Did you get a drenching at the Iguana Falls? Or have you been soaked to the skin at another set of waterfalls?
PIN THE FLASHPACKER!