During my travels I’ve seen some of the best waterfalls in the world. Niagara Falls, Victoria Falls (the world’s largest waterfall) and Gullfoss in Iceland. As stunning as Victoria Falls was, for me Iguazu Falls in South America was even better.
Situated on the border between Brazil and Argentina, Iguazu Falls is made up of some impressively powerful cascades surrounded by beautiful Amazonian scenery. The mighty waters are used to power the Itaipu Dam, a nearby hydroelectric dam producing the most energy of any such facility in the world. This gives you an idea of just how rapid the water flows around Iguazu Falls.
As with Victoria Falls in southern Africa, there are two options to visit Iguazu – the Argentinian or the Brazilian side. I was staying in the town of Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil, less than an hour away from the falls and just across the border from Ciudad del Este in Paraguay. Foz do Iguaçu is easily reached by plane from either Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro in around two hours, with a shuttle service operating between the town and the airport. Buses from Sao Paulo take around 18 hours while it’s 26 hours to travel from Rio the same way.
Whether you prefer Zimbabwe or Zambia for Victoria Falls, United States or Canada for Niagara, Argentina or Brazil for Iguazu is down to personal preference. After some research I decided that while the Brazilian side gets you closer to the falls, the best views and larger area was on the Argentinian side. This meant booking a tour and travelling across the border for a daytrip to Argentina. Making sure I’d packed my passport before I left.
I was collected from my hostel early and entered the bus filled with other backpackers. We crossed into Argentina with minimal fuss and then drove the short journey into the Iguazu Falls National Park. We were given a return time and then left to entertain ourselves. The group followed the nearest walkway, passing a family of coatis on the way, to get our first view overlooking the spectacular falls. Gazing down at the swell of water below as it surged by our side.
From there we made our way around the park, following the various walkways and admiring the incredible views of Iguazu Falls for the next several hours. My favourite area was the path that led down to the bottom of the falls. Despite still being some distance from the crashing water I still ended up soaked from the powerful spray as it filled the air. Something I enjoyed immensely! If you want to get even wetter there is also a boat tour option, but this is obviously an extra expense.
Speaking of extra costs, there are several restaurants within the falls park, but these are a little more expensive compared to normal local prices. Taking food with you is a better idea, but if that’s not possible you’ll have plenty of options for places to eat. There are also ATMs in the park, so if you travelled from Brazil and need Argentinian Pesos, you’ll be able to stock up. Although there is typically a charge.
Once it was time to leave we met up with our bus again with just one last stop at Triple Frontera, a meeting point of the borders of three countries – Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. It was then time to cross back into Brazil and return to Foz do Iguaçu.
How to get there: Book a tour for the Argentina side of the falls to reduce any issues when crossing the border. Alternatively, there is a local bus which takes you to the Brazilian side of the falls from Foz do Iguaçu. It’s certainly the cheapest way to see Iguazu Falls, but means you’re reliant on public transport and limited to how much you can see from that side.
Where to stay: Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil. The closest town to Iguazu Falls with great transport links to either Argentina, Paraguay or elsewhere within Brazil. It also has an amazing restaurant, Tropicana Churrascaria, where you can choose the buffet and eat as much as you want for around £8, with some incredible meat options and the waiters constantly bringing more to your table.
Price to enter the park: Brazil R$68 (around £13.50) and Argentina A$800 (roughly £11.60), both prices are cheaper for local residents.
Opening times: The Argentina side of the falls is open from 8am to 6pm, whereas the Brazilian side opens at 9am until 5pm.