The Ultimate Guide to: Iguazu Falls
A Natural Wonder of the World
Iguazu Falls, known to some as Foz do Iguacu, Cascada Iguazu, Iguassu Falls, or Iguaçu Falls, is an absolute must-see destination not just in South America but in the entire world. Called one of the “new natural wonders of the world”, Iguazu Falls is truly an unforgettable place that you will have to see to believe.
So, call it whatever you want, follow along with us as we cover Iguazu Falls the way it is meant to be seen. With all the little tips and tricks only a South American Travel Expert like us could provide.
A brief history of Iguazu Falls:
Iguazu Falls is a collection of 275 waterfalls that make up the largest waterfall system in the entire world! The waterfalls were first discovered by conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (see photo) of Spain in 1541. They are named from the Guarani or Tupi words “y” meaning “water” and “ûasú “[waˈsu] meaning “big”.
“Big Water”, how appropriate!
According to legends, the falls were created when a male deity was set to marry a gorgeous woman named Naipí. Naipí however, fled in secret with her lover Tarobá in a canoe down the Iguazu River. In a fit of anger, her distraught husband-to-be sliced open the river, creating the gigantic falls. This spiteful move condemned the two to a tragic fall to their deaths.
Where is Iguazu Falls?:
Iguazu Falls is located along the Iguazu River between Argentina and Brazil in a national park called Parque Nacional de Iguazu. The park lies on both the Argentinian and Brazilian sides of the border. Despite the fact that Iguazu River mostly flows through Brazil, the falls themselves mostly lie in Argentina. Only about 20% of the waterfalls on the Brazilian side and 80% on the Argentinian side. The waterfall serves as a border between the 2 countries of Brazil and Argentina.
How do you get to Iguazu Falls?
Flying is the best way to get to Iguazu Falls.
With international airports on both the Argentinian side (Iguazu International Airport) and the Brazilian side (Foz do Iguaçu International Airport) of the falls, flying is the safest and fastest way to get to and from Iguazu Falls. This will allow you more time to soak in the magic of the falls or bask in the sun by your pool.
Our customized journeys for our clients typically include a stop in Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, The Amazon Jungle, or Machu Picchu in Peru, and the proximity of these airports to the falls makes this an easy and ideal stop-over for our clients as they explore all the best places South America has to offer. We will talk about that later!
Visa Requirements for Argentina and Brazil:
It is incredibly important you check visa requirements for both Brazil and Argentina before traveling.
Based on your nationality, requirements may differ. Our Travel Consultants would be happy to help answer any questions you have regarding these requirements but in the end, visa requirements are always the responsibility of the traveler and you are free to explore on your own.
Learn more about Argentina’s Visa Requirements here: http://www.embassyofargentina.us/en/consular-section/visas.html
Learn more about Brazil’s Visa Requirements here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_Brazil
Best Time of the Year to Visit Iguazu Falls:
The best time of year to visit Iguazu Falls is between March and April and from August to September.
With many Brazilians and Argentinians taking their holiday during January and February, the falls can become very crowded, however, they are still navigable during this time and the weather can be fantastic. During the winter months of June and July, it can be very rainy, however, some of our clients think this is a better time than any to travel to the falls as they are raging high with water and at their most dynamic.
Really any time of the year can be magical when traveling to Iguazu Falls because Iguazu Falls are in a humid subtropical climate. The rainy season offers raging waters, the dry season offers hot days and exposed rocks, and the middle season from March – April, and August – September has a mix of both, making it our recommendation for the ideal time to visit.
The layout of the falls and time requirements:
The waterfall itself is divided into 2 main sections, the upper falls and the lower falls, spread out between Argentina and Brazil. Both the Brazilian and Argentinian side of the falls are well-organized and have clear trail markers throughout the park.
Highlights including The Devil’s Throat (Garganta del Diablo), The Little Circuit (Circuito Inferior), The Big Circuit (Circuito Superior), and more.
Our clients typically enjoy spending one or two nights exploring both the Argentinian side and Brazilian sides of the falls. Classic routes include two nights on the Argentinian side, a private transfer over the border into Brazil, and a half day exploring the Brazilian side, with perhaps a stop at The Parque das Aves, a rare bird park.
Entry into Iguazu National Park:
Getting into Iguazu National Park will require a car or bus transfer to the entrance of the national park. The line is typically long at the entrance so be prepared to wait or get there early.
In our tours here at SouthAmerica.travel, the private transfer to and from, national park ticket, and local tour guide are all taken care of for you. All you have to do is enjoy the park.
Insider Tip: This is where an Expert Local Tour Guide guide really comes in handy. Our guides will have your ticket ready and you can skip the lines.
Getting Around in the National Parks:
Navigating Iguazu Falls is easy and straightforward.
On the Argentinian side, there is a train that gets you to and from many of the most popular trailheads including The Devil’s Throat, as well as Central Station. The train at Iguazu Falls to The Devil’s Throat and to and from Central Station runs every 30 minutes. You can walk, that same route, however, the trail is not very ideal as it is right next to the train tracks themselves. It can also be very hot during the morning.
Inside the park, there are a few concession stands to buy water and cold drinks, as well as a cafe to eat and rest at. There are benches as well throughout to rest and take a break at.
Iguazu Falls is a great destination for all abilities and ages of travelers. For families, young kids, older travelers, and people with disabilities, there is a train to transport you around, as well as access to oversized wheelchairs for rent from the main ticket office. These can be pushed along the metal platforms out to The Devil’s Throat and throughout the lower falls along the platforms as well.
Insider Tip: Catch the first train to Devil’s Throat in the morning at 8 am. Crowds will be down and this will allow you the most solitude on that particular day overlooking Devil’s Throat. Immediately following the first couple trains of the day, the trail becomes very busy.
Be prepared to see wildlife and remember to keep your distance (and take lots of pictures!) and an expert local tour guide can point them all out to you!
The Iguazu time schedule is as follows:
On the Brazilian side, it is required that you ride a national park bus into the park, with stops clearly marked with maps and trail information.
As South American Travel Experts, we highly encourage all of our clients to spend at least one day at the falls with a local expert tour guide who can help you navigate and explain everything to you. This truly makes for the best experience possible and ensures you see and understand everything.
Classic South American Tours to Combine with Iguazu Falls:
As we mentioned previously, Iguazu National Park, also known as Iguazu Falls, is a perfect place to head for a couple days on your journey to South America. Our Expert Travel Consultants typically add this as a stop to a journey to Buenos Aires and so don’t hesitate to ask your Travel Consultant about adding Iguazu Falls to your itinerary today!
This place is truly something special!