Tips to make the most of your time at Iguazu Falls
Our own Emma Johnson has just returned from Iguazu so check out her recommendations about what you could do and see, either on the Brazilian or Argentinean side.
Visiting the Iguazu Falls is an incredible and memorable experience due to the immense size of them, a chain of hundreds of waterfalls split between two countries, Argentina & Brazil. Taking time to admire the panoramic views & enjoy different activities is certainly a highlight of any tour to South America.
Which side is the best?
In our opinion to truly appreciate these incredible falls, which are the largest in the world, you need to see them from both sides as the views on offer and the experiences awaiting you are completely different.
The pathway leading down to the falls offers the best panoramic views of the falls as well as the best views of the largest part of the falls, the famous Devils Throat. It’s a easy walk along the platforms, a gradual decline down, with small steps. Some platforms/viewpoints are accessed by narrow wooden stairs. The main platform at the bottom is a metal walkway. Make sure your camera is fully charged with lots of memory as you will be trigger happy! There is a shop to purchase souvenirs at the end along with a lift to take you back up to the top. No need to walk back up! Please allow at least 2-3 hours here to enjoy at leisure. No need to rush.
2. Bird park
Parque das Aves is a private park located across the road from the Iguazu National Park entrance. A visit to the bird park can combined with a half day Brazil Falls tour (depending on your departing flight). Here you will enjoy a variety of different bird species & butterflies. These include Flamingos, Macaws, Parrots, Toucan’s and many more exotic birds. There is also plenty of fauna & flora to be seen & enjoyed. Exploring the park will take around 2 hours including time to enjoy a snack/drink & wonder around the souvenir shop
3. Helicopter rides
For a bigger WOW! a Helicopter ride can be enjoyed as part of a private tour of the Brazil Falls. This 10 minute flight will give you a full appreciation of the size of these amazing waterfalls and the surrounding rainforest. You won’t be disappointed! (weather permitting)
4. Macuco Safari
Offers the spectacular opportunity to get up close, personal and wet at the base of the falls. The excursion starts with a 3km ride through the jungle, with an English-speaking guide pointing out the park’s flora and fauna. The second phase is a short hike (600m) to a small waterfall called Salto de Macuco (no swimming allowed). Finally, climb aboard a Zodiac for a 4km journey over flat water and rapids, and under the falls known as the Three Musketeers. You will get soaked. The boat ride is 30 minutes, but the whole excursion takes about two hours. Buy a protective camera/phone sleeve if you want your own photos!
There are 2 main walkways to explore and to make the most of your day we try to start early by boarding the first train to the Devil’s Throat. The upper walkways here take you across the islands above the falls to a large balcony with amazing views looking down into the Devil’s Gorge. Continue upper circuit along newly built walkways, detached from the jungles surface to protect the fauna & flora. The upper circuit, which takes around 1 hour to explore, allows you to view these falls from above with a magnificent panoramic view. Next continue to the lower circuit which is around 600m of walkways. Also detached from the jungle floor, here you will enjoy great views of the falls from below.
2. Great Adventure
This is a fun way to see more fauna & flora plus any wildlife which can be seen in the forest. You start with a ride on a truck, exploring the forest. You will dropped off close to the edge of the cliff, where you will walk down a steep path to the water’s edge. Life jackets on & prepare to get wet. Nothing will keep you dry! This fun boat trip will get you close to the falls for spectacular viewing, but you will need to put those camera away as not long after a photo stop, you will experience what it is like to go under a waterfall! Great fun & lots of laughs! (A change of clothes is a good idea).
3. Iguazu Forest Wet Reppeling & Canopy
This is a half day tour, for those more adventurous. Entering the Iguazu Forest you will start with a short walk through the forest to a waterfall. Rapel down the 14m waterfall, it will be hard not to get wet! Another short walk through the forest to a outlook of the Panama River where Paraguay is just across the water. You will be met by your driver and taken to the start point of the 3 Canopy rides. Climbing a high wooden staircase, you will reach the top where you will be attached to the canopy wire rope and swing through the forest. Those with a fear of heights may not enjoy this one, but for others you will scream with joy and excitement. This is a great option for families.
4. Jesuit Missions and Wanda Mines
The World Heritage Jesuit Ruins of San Ignacio Miní, is located 230 kms south of the Falls. Your guide will take you for a walk through the daily life in the Jesuit village. Some 50km south of Iguazu you stop at the Wanda Mines, where semi-precious stones are extracted from the basalt layer & turned into beautiful jewellery & objects. There is also tea, maté & pine tree plantations which are fundamental for the economy in the province.
NOTE: Watch out for the Coties – a rodent animal which lives in the national park. There are many of them, so you will know when you come across one. They have a good nose for food & are known to bite! They may look cute, but don’t get too close. They are found on both sides of the falls
Where to stay at the Iguazu Falls?
La Cantera – Beautifully constructed preserving the environment with the least impact as possible. Situated among 3 hectares of trees with some over 400 years old. A true jungle feel makes the La Cantera a wonderful place to stay. Located just a 10-minute drive from the main town and 10 minutes from the Argentina Falls. This will suit most clients; your stay here will be comfortable & enjoyable. Rooms have a balcony and some a hammock for relaxing and reading a book. There is an outdoor pool and sun loungers for you to use and a restaurant.
Jardin De Iguazu – Located in the main town of Puerto Iguazu and approx. 20-minute drive to the Argentina Falls. This is a great 3*, offering basic but comfortable rooms. The hotel also features a garden with swimming pool and hydro-massage tub, a bar, restaurant, 24-hour front desk & Wi-Fi. Local bars, restaurants & souvenir shops located on your doorstep.
Mercure Iru – Only a couple of years old, the Mercure Iru is a delightfully built and designed hotel, located in the Iryapu jungle. Modern, contemporary, bright and very comfortable. You will not be disappointed. All 100 rooms are tastefully decorated. Communal areas are relaxed with a lovely bar and restaurant service excellent food and beverages. Only a 10-minute drive from Argentina Iguazu Falls and 10 minutes from the main town. You will enjoy the simplicity of this hotel while ensuring superb comfort and service at all times.
Belmond Das Cataratas – Located in the national park on the Brazil side, & while the Pink Flamingo colour of the Portuguese style building is not to all tastes it does add to its charm. You will be wowed by the inside with a welcoming log fire on cold days and the décor, keeping history alive while ensuring they keep up their 5-star standard and comfort. Room categories are similar with the “View” being the main difference. Upgrading to a falls view is recommended. With two restaurants, a bar, outdoor pool, spa, gardens and even a “Play room” for younger guests equipped with a baby area, table tennis, DVD/PlayStation and more. While this is the best of the best in Iguazu it comes at a premium price, but is well worth it, given the pristine location opposite the falls, with afterhours access to guests – It will be like having the Falls all to yourself. And the food is divine!
Sheraton Iguazu Falls – Located in the national park on the Argentine side. A little further away from the falls than the Das Cataratas, but you can still see the falls from the hotel and rooms with a Falls room can be booked. While in a prime location, we do feel this hotel is becoming a bit tired and outdated with a need for a refurbishment. Access to the park is between 8am-6pm for everyone. No afterhours viewing here. Hotel features an outdoor pool area with a small kids pool and a spa. Restaurant is mainly buffet style. This 4-star hotel will please some, but it may also be with considering a higher quality hotel outside the park or upgrading to the Belmond Das Cataratas.
If you’re interested about visiting the Iguazu Falls, you can contact one of our travel specialists and talk about the options that suit you best.