Iguazu Falls is a violent, rampaging, relentless avalanche of water flowing west to the confluence of the Iguazu and Parana Rivers. Located at the far northeastern tip of Argentina it occupies the border with Brazil and Paraguay to make accessing this UNESCO World Heritage Site accessible from a number of
Is Iguazu Falls worth it? I say most definitely yes! You don’t get the sheer height and singular waterfall that the likes of Victoria or Angel Falls may offer. Instead, you get the angry bubbling brown mess of water racing over every path possible. It has the volume of Niagara falls with twice the anger in a more natural setting.
While you can access Iguazu Falls from either Argentina, Brazil or Paraguay, this article focuses on visiting from Argentina, specifically time-strapped travellers who want to do a short side trip from Buenos Aires in a one or two days.
Getting to Iguazu Falls from Buenos Aires
Cataratas International Airport (IGR) is less than a two-hour flight from the Argentinian capital of Buenos Aires. This domestic flight avoids passing immigration on either side and the airport is less than 10km from the entry to the Argentinian side of the falls. With only a small day pack you can go directly from the airport to the entry to Iguazu National Park.
Entry to Iguazu Falls
Entry to the Iguazu National Park on the Argentinian side is ($700 pesos) less than $20USD. The entry has a theme park feel to it and a little dated but the attraction is not the food or souvenir stands but lies further into the jungle. The price of admission includes the ‘Ecological Train of the Jungle’ which is a small rustic looking tram which leaves every 30 minutes and passes through the natural beauty of the park teeming with birdlife. Importantly it ends at the start of the Garganta del Diablo.
What is the Garganta del Diablo?
Garganta del Diablo is the famed, elevated walkway that takes visitors over the wide Iguazu river that runs within the forest leading up to the falls. While the 1km walk is amazing, it is what waits for you at the end which is the highlight. Here you are provided a perfect view of the most impressive cascades of the Iguazu Falls, personally, my favourite was Devil’s throat. Devil’s throat funnels a horseshoe of water onto a small ledge causing the violent scenes that so define this impressive force of nature.
Can you view the falls from below?
Yes. Think of the Niagara Falls Maid of the Mist with 100 more times the adrenaline! The warning ‘you will get wet’ is an understatement. You will get soaked, pummelled, drowned and spat out of the base of the waterfall.
For an additional $1000 Pesos ($30USD) you can get one of the most thrilling boat rides imaginable with Iguazu Jungle within the park. It begins with a walk down some steep wet and slippery stairs to the lower Iguazu river some 150m below the upper-level Passengers are given a poncho although this does little to keep you dry. All valuables are stored in the provided water-tight bags. Don’t keep anything out that you’re not prepared to get completely wet, or lost in the river!
The rubber dinghy containing about 20 people and a couple of poerful outboard motors travels up the river to get to the base of the San Martin waterfall. The boat edges closer to the base as the spray begin to get more and more intense. Just as you think they have gone far enough, the boat jets directly into the full force of the waterfall!
The sheer shock sends everything quiet for a moment, before emerging shocked, checking to see if everyone is still on board and thinking maybe this wasn’t supposed to happen. But it is! Very quickly you are returned to shore to take stock of the short 12-minute experience. Not for everyone, but it will certainly be the most memorable!
Exploring the rest of the park
There are loads of walking trails that provide endless viewing opportunities of the many small and large cascades. Some lookouts are drenched by the falls so once you are already wet it doesn’t matter to remain that way.
Exiting the park
Depending on the length of your stay, you have a few options.
- Fly back to Buenos Aires. It might be tight to fit Iguazu Falls in before the last flight leaves for Buenos Aires (4om at time of writing). But it is possible.
- Stay in the park. The Sheraton offers the only hotel within the park if you are looking to splurge. But reviews don;t rate this too highly.
- Stay in Puerto Iguazu. Buses run back to the closest Argentinian town of Puerto Iguazu every twenty minutes. Puerto Iguazu is a small sleepy town running along one main street with a selection of restaurants and a few small guesthouses.
- Visit Brazil or Paraguay. It is technically to visit 3 countries in a day and some say the Brazilian side of the falls provides a better view of the falls (although hard to imagine it compares to Garganta del Diablo.
I’d be interested if you find this guide to Iguazu Falls useful and to hear your own experiences of Iguazu Falls, so please leave them in the comments!