Introduction to Iguaçu Falls
Iguaçu Falls may well be the most picturesque waterfall on earth. It is the kind of place that has inspired thousands of artists who have traveled from all over the world to paint the Falls. Unlike other great waterfalls, the majesty of Iguaçu is that the Iguaçu River drops around 328 ft (100m) into 275 separate Falls across its 0.6 mile (1km) width. There are small trickles alongside beautiful curtains of water, and the huge torrents of the Devil’s Throat pound the bottom so relentlessly that an impenetrable mist is created. Many of the Falls would be tourist attractions in their own right, but as a whole, the spectacle is as awe-inspiring as any of nature’s great sights.
The sheer scale of Iguaçu Falls means it is impossible to view every one of the Falls at once except from the air. A helicopter ride around and above the Falls is breathtaking in many ways. If you can see the Falls best from above, the best place to feel them is from below. Boat trips take you right under the powerful Falls in some places, a truly memorable trip as well as a wet one!
Iguaçu Falls isn’t nature’s only great gift to the area. The Atlantic Rainforest surrounding the Falls is kept lush by the moist air, leaving a rich source of food for a wide variety of creatures. Huge butterflies and tiny hummingbirds shimmer in the sun like the mists above the Falls. Monkeys and sloths move through the trees at different speeds, while anteaters and jaguars have been spotted looking for different creatures to eat.
In complete contrast to all of this is the monumental Itaipú Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric plant on the Paraná River.
What not to miss in Iguaçu Falls
Iguaçu Falls – Brazilian side
The Brazilian side has the best panoramic views of the Falls, with walkways taking you close to The Devil’s Throat, the most powerful and awe-inspiring part of Iguaçu. From there you’ll be able to admire the huge mist that rises into the air and the noise that can be heard for miles around.
Boat trips take you almost directly under some of the falls, making it possible to feel as well as see the power and the beauty of Iguazu Falls.
Iguazu Falls – Argentinean side
The Argentinean side allows for a more intimate experience of Iguazu Falls. Walkways take you to many of the 275 separate falls, with views from below, alongside and above them. The undoubted highlight is to stand on the very edge of the Devil’s Throat and look down into the whirling water below.
Itaipu Dam is the largest hydroelectric dam in the world and cost US$20 billion to build. The costs were shared between Brazil and Paraguay as the dam stretches across the 7th largest river in the world, the Paraná, which forms the border between the two countries.
Explore the jungle trails
Explore the jungle trails around the Iguaçu Falls National Park. Of course you’ll want to spend plenty of time seeing the Falls, but the beautiful and serene jungle trails are worth a hike or bike ride.
What you need to know
When to go
Rain or shine, summer or winter, Iguaçu Falls will be wet! Iguaçu has a tropical climate and in the summer months, from around December to February, temperatures and humidity are high. In December and January both Argentina and Brazil have their summer holidays, so the Falls can get crowded with visitors and prices will be a little higher. The winter months from June to August see the most rains, and though temperatures are far from cold, the skies can be grey. Though you can get lucky or unlucky at any time of year, the Falls are best seen with a backdrop of blue skies. The best time to visit is often said to be spring and fall, when skies are usually blue and the crowds less dense. Holiday season in Brazil and Argentina runs from December to March, when the Falls will be very busy, especially at weekends. July is also a peak period. To photograph the Falls, the Brazilian side is better in the morning, while the Argentinean side has better light during the late afternoon.
How to get there
Almost two hour flights link the airport of Foz de Iguaçu on the Brazilian side of the Falls with Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, which both have many direct scheduled flights from Europe and North America with major international carriers. Flights from all major Brazilian cities arrive at Foz de Iguaçu. The only international flights arrive from Buenos Aires in Argentina or Asunción in Paraguay.
Where to stay
Iguaçu Falls is one of the world’s great tourist attractions, and as such the area has everything that tourists from all over the world may require. From cheap accommodation to a world-class hotel with a priceless view of the Falls on the Argentinean side; all budgets are catered for. Restaurants at Iguaçu Falls are accustomed to the tastes of international visitors and serve a wide selection of Brazilian and international cuisine.
To travel around the area, to Iguaçu Falls on both sides, to Itaipu Dam and Ciudad del Este, tours are the best option. They take you to entrances on both sides of the Falls, from where you can catch free buses and trains to the start of the National Park walkways.