One of the seven natural wonders of the world, Iguazu Falls is the third largest waterfalls in the world. Trumped only by Niagara falls in Canada and Angel Falls in Venezuela, it certainly doesn’t feel like third place when you’re standing at the foot of thousands of gallons of water crashing down around you.
Nestled on the border between Brazil and Argentina there are actually two sides to the falls, the Brazilian and Argentinian sides in each respective country. As it turned out we spent two days in the Argentinian side, due to the scars from our border crossing experience into Argentina in the first place – so can’t really speak about the other side. We heard it was a smaller route however, with around 3 hours needed there.
When we arrived in Puerto Iguazu, we instantly knew this town would be a stark change from the bustle of Rio. A small town with a laid back feel to it, we chose to stay at Hostel Poramba, a smaller hostel with around 6 rooms dotted around a little dipping pool. The mandatory hammocks were just making sure you knew this was no Mad Monkey, which was perfect for us.
The strip has the usual array of restaurants, but a particular highlight is a market on ‘Brazil street’, full out parrillas – outdoor BBQs typical of South America. We had an incredible cut of meat all for under £10, although we wouldn’t be able to tell you the cut! This was one of the best meals we’d had on our trip so far – and it looked like all the restaurants were serving pretty much the same thing so you couldn’t go wrong. It’ll always be a mystery how they served perfectly cooked steak which stays warm and succulent for half an hour while we’re eating it, but probably best left at that.
Booking and Admission
We didn’t book any tours in advance for the falls themselves, and wouldn’t advise you bother doing it either. There’s no need to, and the organised tour groups will probably charge you more for the privilege of being in a busy tour group.
Getting to and from the falls is pretty simple, there are buses running every 20 mins which cost 150 pesos return (around £5). Once you’re there you pay the admission of 500 pesos (around £17) – but worth bearing in mind if you return to the Argentinian side a second day as we did it’s 50% off the next time you go. For some reason the buses to the Brazilian side are cheaper but we’re not sure how easy the process of immigration and ticketing is.
The two main takeaways from our time at the falls: these things are awe inspiringly stunning; but everyone knows it. Be prepared to get here early if you want to avoid the battle of the selfie sticks!
There’s 2 main ways to enjoy the falls, walking through the 4 main trails or on a series of tours.
One of the main trails is on Isla San Martin – an island in between the Argentinan and Brazilian side, with ferries usually free and running every 20 mins. Unfortunately due to the tide this was shut, and looked like it might be the case for the next year too when we spoke to the rangers.
There are then two main walking trails, circuit superior (above) and inferior (below) in relation to the waterfalls. The inferior circuit is a beautiful trek, and it’s easier to appreciate the sheer scale of where you are from underneath the water. That said, it tended to be the busier one as it is the first one which people can access when they get to the park so be prepared to bustle. There are photographers ready and waiting on the main shot space, however with bit of non British elbowing you can probably manage to get the photo in!
The superior circuit is a much shorter circuit, around 2km which lets you see the top of some of the smaller waterfalls. It’s definitely worth a visit, as it’s less crowded. That said, the views are probably more spectacular from the main attraction, Diablos Garganta – The devils throat.
Despite being the most difficult to get to, it’s the most busy. We didn’t realise at the time, but you can actually walk up here and we’d recommend doing that as it’s a peaceful walk by the train tracks and would take around 40mins. Alternatively you can take the train as we did – the price is included with your entry fee.
The train journey was a story unto itself. If you think the tube is disorganised you’ve not seen anything… You’ll stand around in the unrelenting sun waiting for the number on your ticket to be called, at which point you are invited to board the passenger train. It’s not quite HS1… and very cramped, but it travels at a pleasant speed allowing you to soak in the views on your way up. Anna wasn’t the biggest fan of the train ride, it’s fair to say had we known we could’ve walked there would have been no question!
When you get to the top you realise why it’s named the devil’s throat. The water lands so hard at the bottom it crashes back up to the top of the fall and right over you. The views are stunning, and the water appears to be coming straight from the jungle – because it is! This was the highlight of all the trails, and one not to miss.
We didn’t end up doing any of the tours due to timing, but have heard good things about the boat trip up to the base of the falls. Unfortunately, these were off for the year just like the ferry, so probably not worth visiting them for these tours specifically!
Our next stop is Buenos Aires for some good steak. Hasta Luego!