The Iguazu Falls are quite simply one of the greatest natural wonders of the world, a fact underlined by their UNESCO World Heritage status and the huge numbers of people who travel from around the world to witness the incredible spectacle of almost 2,000 cubic metres of water per second cascade over the jungle-clad cliffs.
The Falls actually consist of 275 individual waterfalls, up to around 80 metres high. As the water thunders, the rising mists catch the sunlight, throwing rainbows across the panorama and adding to the spectacle.
Iguazu National Park straddles the three frontiers of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. The Falls span the Argentine and Brazilian border and can be accessed from both sides. The tallest fall, the famous Devil’s Throat is the highlight, higher than the Niagara Falls by 70 metres and twice as wide.
The park is well serviced with footpaths and lookouts, although be prepared to share them with numerous butterflies and South American coati, raccoon like fluffy creatures with a stripy tail.
Also expect to get thoroughly drenched by the spray, especially (and obviously) if you choose to take a boat ride to the foot of the falls.
For lovers of the outdoors the Argentine side of the park requires a fair amount of walking, (about two and a half hours) and has plenty to offer for the adventurous.
The spread-out complex at the entrance has lockers available, as well as an ATM and a restaurant. There’s also an exhibition, with a display on the park and Guaraní (the indigenous peoples’) life.
The complex ends at a train station, where a train runs every half-hour to where the waterfall walks begin, and to the Devil’s Throat. You may prefer to walk, it’s only a 3km walk to the Devil’s Throat, and you may glimpse capuchin monkeys along the way.
There’s enough here to entertain you for a couple of days; admission (payment in Argentine pesos only) is reduced by 50% if you visit the park again the following day. You need to get your ticket stamped when leaving on the first day to get the discount.
Other Iguazu Travel Highlights:
Hostel Inn – Located at the entrance of Iguazu National Park in Puerto Iguazu, this hostel is like a mini resort, which boasts the biggest swimming pool in the area, great food and a friendly atmosphere.
Guira Oga – A wildlife sanctuary for rescued animals like monkeys, alligators, capybaras and toucans before they are freed back into the wild. Make sure you check whether the tour will be in English or Spanish when you book. It is located just outside Puerto Iguazu.
Hummingbird Garden – A private garden close to the centre of Puerto Iguazu. The yard is brimming with flowers, vines and flowers. Visitors are treated to holding a feeder in their hand while hummingbirds land on the tips of their fingers. At only 20 pesos, this unique experience is not to be missed.
Iguazu Grand Resort Spa and Casino – A posh retreat to create a luxurious trip to Iguazu. Super close to the Falls and to the Brazilian border. Boasts a casino, three outdoor pools and a full service spa.
La Aripuca – A small, ecological theme park just outside Puerto Iguazu is centred around some centuries-old trees and assorted exhibitions of Guaraní culture scattered throughout the rainforest.
San Ignacio ruins – These ruins of a Jesuit missionary settlement from 1696 are the most complete in Argentina. They will be familiar to people who have seen ‘The Mission’, starring Robert De Niro. The living quarters and workshops have been restored and the carved ornamentation is very impressive.
Wanda Mines – A must see for those interested in precious stones, geology and jewellry. Take a tour of the mines to see where amethyst is extracted. The mines also have topaz, quartz and jasper. There is a gift shop where jewelry, wind chimes, polished and natural stones are available for purchase.