Amazing, Grand, Spectacular! Those are the three words that would sum up the Iguazu Falls. The minute I saw the falls, I couldn’t believe the sheer number of waterfalls around and the massive volume of water that gushes down to the Iguazu River! There are waterfalls, and there is Iguazu Falls.
The Iguazu Falls is one of the largest collections of waterfalls in the world. There are about 275 waterfalls spread across 2.7 kilometres of the Iguazu River. The Iguazu Falls are located on the border of Brazil and Argentina, and can be viewed from both sides.
The Brazilian side
On the Brazilian side, the easiest way to get to the falls is from the town of Foz do Iguaçu. The falls is about 20km from the town centre of Foz, and can easily be accessible by public bus or taxi.
The area on the Brazilian side is administered as part of a national park, and offers a number of activities like a boat cruise through the falls, walking tracks into the rainforest, and a walkway to the lower basin of Garganta del Diablo (The Devil’s Throat), which is the largest of all the waterfalls.
The park on the Brazilian side has a bus tour around the area and also drops off tourists doing the various activities it offers. The highlight would be to do the 2km walk towards the walkway on the lower basin of The Devil’s Throat. The experience of being close to the mammoth waterfalls and its immense power is something that is just breathtaking.
The walkway juts out onto the water of the lower basin itself, and one can get close to the falls, feel the force and its strong flow. One can happily get wet just walking on the walkway, without even going through them! It is said that the force of the waterfalls generates some ions that would make people feel happy. I certainly felt that while getting soaked on the walkway.
The Argentinean side
Crossing over the border to Argentina, the closest town you can base yourself is the town of Puerto Iguazu. The town is roughly 40km from the Argentinean side of the falls, and is accessible by public bus or taxi as well. The Argentinean side has 2/3 of the falls, and is where you will find the most spectacular views of the falls.
The Argentinean side has the top view of The Devil’s Throat, and has several walks to view the rest of the waterfalls. The national park is enormous, and one can easily spend a couple of days taking in all the breathtaking walks and activities that are on offer. Getting from the entrance to The Devil’s Throat on its own would take nearly an hour, taking both the train and walking the 1 km of walkway towards the edge of the Devil’s Throat.
Being on top of the Devil’s Throat falls is a totally exhilarating experience. You can literally see and feel the power of the water flowing beneath you and down into the river, and you can see more of the Devil’s Throat than on the Brazilian side. The difference is in the soaking factor, as you don’t get too wet on the Argentinean side as you do on the Brazilian side since you’re on top and above the falls.
The park also offers a river cruise, where you can see the exotic wildlife native to the area, and a cruise is also available to get to San Martin Island, one of the islands at the basin of the falls where a few more walking trails can be explored. Taking a cruise back to the start instead of the train from the Devil’s Throat is a great idea. One can see the exotic and varied wildlife in along the Iguazu River and experience being on the big river that feeds the falls.
Of the many other walks that can be done, the Upper Circuit offers a fantastic panorama of the myriad of waterfalls coming down. The walk takes approximately 45 minutes each way, and it is where one can appreciate the enormity and the stunning scenery of the falls.
The Iguazu Falls is definitely one of the best natural wonders that South America has to offer. It’s currently nominated as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, and it absolutely deserves that accolade. The experience of being there and seeing the gigantic falls is something magical and totally one to treasure.
Additional photo credits: 1 – feemaisquoi on Flickr, 2 - JP Correa Carvalho on Flickr, 3 – Alicia Nijdam on Flickr, 4 – Kampa’s on Flickr, 5 – vtveen on Flickr, 7 – Phillie Casablanca on Flickr, 8, 9 – Claudio Mufarrege on Flickr