“Wow” is most likely the first word of every first-time visitor of Cataratas del Iguazú. Describing the magnificence of this natural wonder in words is hard.
We at least tried to sum up why you should put the waterfalls on your bucket list.
Parque Nacional Iguazú – Argentinian side
The largest waterfall system in the world can be visited from the Argentinian and the Brazilian side.
We started in Argentina, where you get closer to the rushing water itself.
To get as near as possible, join the Great Adventure tour. Iguazu Jungle is a private service provider. The tour isn’t included in the entrance fee for the national park. In our opinion, it is worth the money.
The trip starts with a short drive through the jungle. On your way, observe the surroundings carefully.
You never know when a yellow beak of a Toucan Toco will appear above your head. If you spot one, look for his/her mate. Toucans (supposedly) are monogamous and usually live in pairs or small flocks.
The interesting part starts with the boat trip on Lower Iguazu River. It will take you directly underneath the Saint Martin Waterfall. It doesn’t get any closer.
A word of advice: You will get completely soaked from the waterfall shower. Dry bags for your valuables are provided, but a larger backpack (30 l) won’t fit.
The tour ends under a staircase, from where you can continue exploring the falls by joining the Lower Circle (Paseo Inferior) until you step by step reach the Upper Circle (Paseo Superior).
The feeling when you cross the waterfalls from above is phenomenal. Watch the birds, lizards, and flowers around you.
Once you get to the Cataratas station, hop on the train to rest your feet and disembark at the station of Garganta del Diablo, the Devil’s Throat.
From there a walkway over the Upper Iguazu River will lead you to one of the most magnificent natural scenes on Earth, the Garganta del Diablo waterfall.
Only James Bond in Moonraker could have escaped the water power of the mighty throat.
Parque Nacional do Iguaçu – Brazilian side
The Brazilian side offers more panoramic views of the waterfalls.
From the ticket office, a double-decker bus will take you to the station of Hotel Cataratas where the walking paths begin.
The walkways are built on the edge of a cliff, so you’ll get an excellent overview of the 2,7 km long natural wonder.
No worries. In Brazil, you’ll get soaked as well. The trail ends at the base of Devil’s Throat.
Don’t forget to quench your thirst with a cold beer at a terrace at Porto Canoa overlooking the vast Upper Iguazu River, which is surprisingly calm considering it will turn into a devil’s cloud factory soon.
How long to stay
We stayed 3 nights, which allowed us 2 full days in the parks. That is enough to enjoy the magnificence of the falls from both sides. Considered afterwards, we would have spent at least one more night and explored some remote areas.
Where to stay
On the Brazilian side, you can stay in Foz do Iguaçu.
We stayed in Argentina in Puerto Iguazú. Compared to Foz do Iguaçu it is much smaller and quieter town. But there is still plenty of good quality hotels and restaurants to choose from.
We enjoyed one of the lovely bungalows in Boutique Hotel de la Fonte very much. Waking up to birds’ twittering will remind you, that jungle is not far away.
How to get to the national parks from Puerto Iguazù
There are buses from Puerto Iguazú heading to the park. However, the easiest and most convenient way is to take a remís, an Argentinian form of Uber.
Ask at the reception, they’ll help you book a reliable driver. Also, arrange the time when the driver should pick you up in the afternoon. Agree on the price for the return trip before you leave as well.
We used an Argentinian remís for the trip to the Brazilian side too. Don’t forget your passport!
Watch the time
During summer months, there is a one-hour difference between Brazilian and Argentinian time. To be entirely sure, ask at your accommodation and clarify the time zone for the pick-up time with your driver.
What to wear
You’ll experience humid subtropical climate. It doesn’t matter if it’s sunny or if it rains. You’ll get wet from water sprays and mist. Wear something you won’t mind getting wet in. Bring some repellent. We opted for one without DEET and didn’t have any troubles.
As for the shoes, if you are only planning to stay on the walkways, flip-flops or crocs are the best choice. After a water splash, you’ll be glad that soaked sneakers aren’t covering your feet. If you do a jungle hike, wear solid shoes.
Also, bring a good quality raincoat/poncho.
The lousy ones you can buy at visitors’ centre are expensive and won’t last more than a few hours. Have a rain cover for your backpack in mind.
Be careful about Coatis
Although these jungle inhabitants look cute, they got used to people feeding them. Thus, they get aggressive around people when they eat.
There even are special park rangers to scare them away with jangling keys. So, keep away and don’t offer them food under any circumstances.
The mighty Cataratas truly are a natural marvel. No wonder both national parks are listed as UNESCO World Heritage site. The waterfalls most definitely belong to top places to see in your lifetime.