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The Complete Guide to Iguazú Falls: How to see it, What to do and Where to stay

Iguazu Falls Iguazu Falls is the biggest waterfall system in the world

Stretching for almost three kilometers, spanning Argentina and Brazil, this immense mass of water is the world's largest waterfall system and a sight to behold. It's no easy feat to get to Iguazú and while most people come just to see the falls, there is so much more to explore in this vibrant and unique area.

Iguazú Falls sits at the southern extreme of what is called the Mata Atlantica, or Atlantic Forest. Prior to European arrival, this forest stretched untouched from Rio de Janiero down past Iguazú Falls and boasts some of the highest biodiversity on planet earth and a staggering level of endemic plant and animal species. The Iguazú River, which means "big water" in the indigenous Guaraní language, divides Brazil and Argentina and each side offers different views and experiences. 

HOW TO SEE THE FALLS

The Brazil side offers the broadest and most panoramic views of the falls so if you're after the perfect picture this side is for you. Starting from the ridge, near Cataratas Hotel, you make you way down a path (about a mile long) to the waters edge, with many sweeping views along the way, ending with an incredible catwalk into the refreshing spray into the center of the falls. You can take an elevator back up to the ridge above the falls or walk up the stairs as well. You can also access Parque de Aves, river boats and helicopter rides from the Brazil side (read more below).

The Argentina side offers the best opportunities to get up close to the top of the main waterfall, Devil's Throat, along with a vast system of boardwalks and walking trails through the jungle. If you want a more active adventure and access to a better trail system, The Argentina side is for you. You can also access boat rides and helicopter rides from this side as well.

Logistics: We recommend you see both sides but you need to factor in time & visas. US citizens do not need a visa to visit Argentina but they do need one for Brazil. So if you are primarily visiting Brazil, it will be easy to pop over to the Argentina side, but if you're primarily visiting Argentina you will also need to secure a Brazil Visa - The process is easily done online but must be applied for at least a week in advance of your visit! 

You cannot fly directly from the North America to Iguazú Falls so you must fly into a major airport in Brazil or Argentina and then catch a flight to Foz do Iguaçu International Airport in Brazil (IGU) or to Cataratas del Iguazú International Airport in Argentina (IGR) or travel overland. 

WHAT TO DO: 

Argentina - Hike the trails in the park: Miles of trails exist in the park offering a variety of angles and views of the falls. Explore the vast trail system on foot followed by a train ride that will take you a few miles to the Devil's Throat Station which surrounds the upper part of the Iguazú River. From there, walk to the balcony of Devil's Throat, the most impressive and dramatic of all the falls.

Brazil - Visit Parque de Aves: This sprawling outdoor bird sanctuary lets you see endemic bird species of the area, most of which are rescues from wildlife smugglers or from places where birds have been mistreated. The birds aren't reintroduced back into the wild, but they do get to live out their days in peace and quiet in large and comfortable aviaries. Take a walk through the aviaries and watch as parrots, macaws, toucans and parakeets fly overhead.

Get wet on a boat ride

From either side of the falls, take a drive through the steamy jungle, watching for monkey or birds, and arrive at the water's edge for a refreshing boat ride. Board a boat headed upstream for one of the most unique ways to experience the falls up close and personal. Make sure you bring a towel or wear a bathing suit as you're sure to get wet on this exciting excursion. Don't worry, you'll dry off quick, once back in the heat of the jungle. (Only the boat rides from the Brazil side are wheelchair accessible)

Helicopter Tour

For the ultimate view of the falls, you can take a short, 10 minute helicopter ride which allows you to see the falls from a birds eye view. If you really want to admire the falls in all their awe inspiring beauty, this is a great addition to the walkways and boat adventure. (Available from either side of the falls)

Culture & History

You can also explore the incredible ethnic diversity that exists alongside an intriguing cultural history of the Misiones Province. Most famous is the arrival of the Jesuit order in the 17th century, who established a string of missions in the area (from where the province gets its name) in order to Christianize an Amerindian indigenous population of Guarani Tribes. 

THE BEST PLACES TO STAY

Hotel das Cataratas - Brazil

Hotel das Cataratas is the only hotel located inside the Brazilian Iguazu Falls National Park, with an enviable position atop the canyon, nestled in the rainforest and overlooking the Falls. One of the most exciting benefits of a stay here is that you get to play at the falls any time you want, including when the park is closed to others. Step out of the hotel, walk across the yard, and within two minutes you are greeted by a panoramic view of Iguazu Falls. 193 spacious rooms, top-class dining, indulgent spa menu, and European-caliber service standards welcome visitors to this iconic property.  

Melia Iguazu Resort - Argentina

Melia Iguazu Resort is ideally situated in the heart of Argentina's Iguazú National Park. The hotel combines a beautiful landscape with friendly service, comfortable style, and great quality. Located within walking distance of the spectacular Iguazú Falls and the Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Gorge), many of the 176 guest rooms have views of the Falls themselves. For a relaxing start or end to the day, try out the spa or enjoy the pool.

Awasi Iguazu - Argentina

Awasi Iguazy is one of the most exciting new places to stay near the falls Awasi Iguazu. Situated on the banks of the River Iguazú,  just down from the falls, each villa is assigned a private guide and 4WD, allowing guests to explore at their own pace, visiting where they want, when they want, and for however long they want. Like it's Atacama and Patagonia sites, Awasi Iguazu consists of one main lodge and 14 private guest villas that are built on stilts in the rainforest and separated from one another to provide intimacy and privacy. Due to the tropical setting each villa has its own private plunge pool. 

Hotel Loi Suites - Argentina

Hotel Loi suites is a short driving distance from the falls and is nestled in the jungle, only minutes from the airport. This exclusive five star hotel is immersed in the Iryapú Jungle. It is a more budget friendly hotel option but still offers comfort and luxury not far from the Iguazú Falls, in perfect harmony with nature. Built with maximum respect for nature, preserving native vegetation, Loi Suites Iguazú is surrounded by magnificent trees and impressive wildlife

To learn more about any of our trips to Argentina or Brazil just ask us - give us a call at 800-345-4453.

2019 - The Year of the Adventure Voyage
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