“ Country: Brazil / World Region: South America „
The Iguacu Falls are part of the Iguacu National Parks which exists on both the Argentinean and Brazilian sides and are designated UNESCO World heritage sites since 1984 and 1986 respectively.
We stayed at the Sheraton Hotel on the Argentinean side of the falls. It wasn't the best looking hotel in the world from the outside but it had a wonderful view of the Iguaçu Falls. Unfortunately our room had a jungle view rather than a when of the falls but in are the public areas the view of the falls could be enjoyed by everyone.
On our first day we enjoyed the Upper (or Superior) walk and we were treated to our first sight of these amazing waterfalls. During the walks we were also lucky enough to see a badger-like creative called a Cotymundy foraying in one d the title bins. It was a sort of cross between an anteater ad a badger but about the Size of a small dog. It ran off into the jungle as Soon as we got closer but we did manage to get a good photo first. As we followed the trail at each turn we saw more of these spectacular waterfalls. As we walked along we were also able to enjoy a huge variety of tropical butterflies which fluttered around us and even landed on us with their wings opening and shutting to display their wonderful colours. At times when the sun caught the waterfall spray just right we could see rainbows which was very special, we didn't realise how lucky we were to enjoy the Sun until the next day.
We were up bright and early to catch the first train (a sort of mini railway called the Rainforest Ecological Train) that took us from the visitors centre to the station near to the Devil's Throat which is a spectacular section of the Iguacu falls 82 metres high and 150 metres wide that is on the border between the Argentinean and Brazilian sides of the waterfalls. The walkway is about a kilometre long and takes you right over the top of the waterfall. You can't really see much below because of the spray which is like walking in a cloud of rain. One fascinating thing about this walk is that you are able to see what is left of the old walkway to the Devil's Throat which was washed away a few years ago. The force must have been amazing as there were solid concrete blocks bigger than a house turned over in the river. We were told that luckily no-one was killed but the damage to the structures was extensive. I still find it difficult to see how they build these walkways right over these enormously powerful waterfalls. I am not doing this justice I realise but the power of the water is unbelievable even in normal times so heaven knows what is must be like in a time of flood.
When you were standing at The Devil's Throat is was almost impossible to hear anything except the waterfall and you got very wet from spray which hovered in the air all around the area. We returned to the little train in order to experience more of a wetting on the Lower Walk. This walkway took you VERY close to the waterfalls, almost under some parts, this was okay as it cooled you off from the tropical heat and you quickly dried off .
This Lower walk takes you down to a rocky area where you can a boat - looked like an inflatable lifeboat - to the Island of San Martin in the middle of the waterfall gorge. This is where Robert de Niro climbed up in the film 'The Mission'. We were not going to the island but were going to be under the falls in these boats and then we were going up the river to get a different view of the river and falls. We were handed sopping wet, cold life jackets to wear (extremely complicated things that you needed a degree in lifejackets in order to put on correctly). Once we were safely strapped into our chilly lifejackets (all clothes that you wanted to remain dry had to be stowed in a large thick plastic bag). We were advised by our guide that raincoats etc were useless and that we were better off wearing swim suits and putting all our clothes in the bag to put on again once we had dried off in the speedboat going up the river. We all did as advised.
The boat was fantastic, the driver and other crew were totally mad and took us bouncing over rapids and virtually under the falls. You couldn't keep your eyes open and our guide was correct - any rain coats would have been useless. We were enjoying the exhilaration of the freezing water and bouncing over the water, feeling very smug over the rest of the people who were wearing plastic ponchos over their clothes which were not keeping much of the waterfall out! We sped of leaping along the rapids down the river for about 10 minutes to the jetty where we clambered out and wrung out any clothes we had been wearing and put on our nice dry shoes.
We were shown to a lorry with seat on the back and no roof for a drive through the jungle. All started well we were enjoying the drive looking at the vegetation and listening to the guide. We did notice the arrival of a rather large black cloud and were half watching this and still listening attentively to the guide - a few spots of rain began to fall. The others from the boat donned their plastic ponchos - we of course only had swim suits and T-shirts and our nice dry trainers on. The guide put on a rain coat that trawler men on the North Atlantic fishing boats would be proud to wear and continued here commentary. We all bent over more and huddled together as the rain got heavier and heavier. It hurt, it was so hard and it was cold too, we were all hysterically giggling trying to hide behind those with plastic ponchos just to take the worst of the sting out of the rain. The lorry had no roof and no front to break the wind so as we drove faster the rain hit harder and stung more and we got wetter and wetter. Then the lorry stopped and we thought we had arrived, but no... the poncho wearers got out leaving us with no-one to hide behind and another 10 minutes drive along a tarred road so the lorry went faster. We had completely lost interest in anything the guide was trying to tell us but she valiantly chatted on from behind her souwester and trawler man's raincoat despite the fact that we were all looking at the floor convulsed in hysterical giggles.
Suffice to say that we needn't have bothered keeping our shoes in the plastic bag; we were drenched through and really cold as we were wearing very little. We dripped our way through the hotel and straight into a hot bath. It had red spots all over my body from the rain hitting me and they took over an hour to fade. I spent the rest of the day trying to dry out the few clothes that we had worn with a hair dryer and an iron. I was successful and the hats dried very well over the bedside lampshades!!
The next day we crossed the border into Brazil with no trouble at all - we didn't even have to leave the coach, it was by our guides ( one from the UK and the local guide). We stopped at the border souvenir shop and then about 5 minutes from here was the helicopter base which took you for a 10 minute flight over the falls at the cost of about $100 US per person. We decided not to bother as we had seen the waterfalls from so many angles and it seemed quite a lot of money for the two of us. A couple of people in our group did do the flight and said that it was wonderful but sadly I cannot comment on the experience. Just opposite the helicopter airport was a Bird Park and a few people from our group visited this after checking in at the airport but I was too worried about missing our plane to Rio. They said it was as you would expect of a bird park, the birds were in very large enclosures and it was nicely set out but you could hand feed toucans which was novel.
We got off our coach at the hotel on the Brazilian side, the Hotel Das Caratas which looked lovely from the outside but we didn't go in. We embarked upon the walk to the Porto Canoas station just next to the devil's Throat Falls - the bottom of theses falls this time. The walk on the Brazilian side was very scenic and you could see more waterfall views. There were a few larger areas for looking at the views and it ended up with a walkway which took you almost into the falls. You really got wet again, even half way along the walkway you were wet and by the end it was like being in the waterfall. I had my poncho this time, I'm not totally stupid, but even with this one and my trousers rolled up elegantly I decided not to bother going right to the end as I didn't want to be in wet clothes on the plane and I had no changes of clothes with me. My husband didn't worry and went to the end but he isn't as 'nesh' as I am and doesn't seem to get chilled so quickly.
We made our way to the Porto Canoas and this is at the bottom of the falls, almost touchable. There is a souvenir shop, cafe and toilets as well as a glass fronted lift up to the top again. You can walk up the stairs but we wanted to experience the glass lift view so we joined the rather lengthy queue. We narrowly managed to avoid a diplomatic incident as some women ( not British but I won't say which Nationality in order to avoid offence) were trying to push past us to join their friends about 20 people in front of us!! Well, being British and experts at queuing there was NO way they were going to barge past us. They were extremely loud and shrieked to their friends insults about us but we stood our ground and kept our place. The view from the glass fronted lift was worth it and we felt we had stood up for our rights in a polite and very British way and won.
They say that you experience the waterfalls from the Argentinean side but the views are more spectacular from the Brazilian side and I would say this is true. I'm glad we visited Iguacu from the Argentinean side first as we heard, felt the falls and saw what damage could be done by the water on the Argentinean side but the views of the falls as a whole were certainly more special from the Brazilian side.
Well worth a visit. It doesn't matter which side you go to as you can cross the border very easily and experience both sides provided you sort out visa implications etc. It is worth spending a few days there as there is so much to do and so many ways to experience the falls area. It is much nicer than Niagara, especially the setting in the jungle as opposed to near a tacky town. I haven't seen Victoria Falls but these falls Iguacu must take some beating in a beauty contest. They get my vote anyway.
This site offer 360 degree virtual tours of Iguacu should you feel you would like a closer inspection http://www.360travelguide.com/360VirtualTour.asp?iCode=bra01
These waterfalls are truely spectacular and make a great stop on an overland journey from Rio to Buenos Aires (or the otherway). It is best to see the falls from both the Argentinian and the Brazilian side. You can get the bus across the border.
From the Argentinian side you can go along a walkway to witness wonderful views over the top of "Garganta del Diablo". There are a number of different packages that you buy once you are in the park or you can choose to walk and take the train by yourself, some of the packages include speed boat trips under the falls and a return journey over to a little island which you can walk around or laze about on the beach before returning back to the mainland to carry on around the park. I would recommend not including the drive through the forest as the regular traffic along the track ensures you won't see much of the native wildlife.
On the Brazilian side you get views of "Garganta del Diablo" from a lower level, you should be prepared to get a bit wet!!! On this side you can get a short 10 minute helicopter ride over the falls, although expensive it is the only way to get a birds eye view and see just how astonishing these 275 waterfalls are.
There is a lovely bird park on the Brazilian side which is well worth a visit and a day trip over to Paraguay is good for cheap electronics and a visit to the largest hydroelectrical power plant in the world, Itaipu dam. The dam can be visited from both the Paraguayan and Brazilian side. The Paraguayan tour was not available in English but was free and the guide tried to explain things to us. The Brazilian tour was available in English but you had to pay on this side.
The Iguazu Falls ranks as one of South America foremost attractions. It's easy to see why after spending a day there, you will be spellbound. The Falls are situated in one of Argentina's best National Parks, Parque Nacional Iguazu in the north east of the country. The closest town to the Falls is Puerto Iguazu which survives purely from the tourist business but is beautifully serene. The Falls came into being after a rush of lava (made up of basalt rock) suddenly stopped mid flow with the result that a huge natural cliff was created. This sheer drop happened to be spread over several kilometres and when the waters of the Rio Iguazu (river) plummet from the edge the result is like a scene taken from a movie endowed with eye popping special effects. PUERTO IGUAZU The closest town to the Falls comes complete with huge tracts of forest in the background. While Puerto Iguazu is a lovely town to relax in anything more than 2 days could lead to boredom. As you would expect being so close to Iguazu, there is a huge amount of accommodation available. Upmarket and budget hotels line up side by side so its no too difficult to pick the right option. As is our eternal lack of funds we could be found at the lower end. That said our hotel, Residential Lilian, was very comfortable and proved to be excellent value for money at 25 Peso's ($, just under 10 Euro). Residential Lilian operates on a self catering basis so their kitchen comes with all the amenities. Our ensuite room was immaculate and included cable TV. Residential Lilian is only a couple of blocks from the bus terminal on an unmarked street (one of the many) closest to the surrounding rainforest. Thankfully the mosquitos only came out at night and in small doses. While the main street of Puerto Iguazu is fully paved most of the back roads, where you'll find the bulk of acco
mmodation, are neatly put together by embedded stones. The soil in the area has a rusty hue so after any rainfall the streets take on the colour of the soil. Each evening you'll notice than below ankle level you match the fabulous sunset. The relatively small centre of town completely closes down in the mid afternoon only to reopen in the early evening (in common with much of provincial Argentina and Brazil). That said, there isn't a whole lot going on in the evening either. There are one or two restaurants that have outdoor seating so sunset and beers is nice. There are at least 4 internet facilities available charging an above average $3 per hour. While you won't get cheaper than this it is possible to get a free drink with each hour so it pays to seek these places out especially if you've endured a dehydrating day at the Falls. PREPARATION The Iguazu Falls are at their busiest around noon so it pays to avoid the most popular areas until later in the day. Another point worth remembering before you set out is to have protective covering for any cameras you intend bringing, or if this is not possible you can use your T-shirt at opportune moments like we did. GETTING TO THE FALLS Getting from Puerto Iguazu to the Falls couldn't be easier. If you are staying at one of the towns 4 star hotels you won't need to worry much as your bus will be waiting outside. For everyone else it's a taxi or the much cheaper alternative, the bus. All buses for Iguazu (in Brazil it's spelt with a 'c', Iguacu) leave from platform 1 at the bus station. There is a departure every 40 minutes beginning at 7am right through to 5 in the evening. There is no need to buy tickets in advance as the $2 fare is collected on board. The Iguazu bus is distinctive, it is white and could easily pass for an airport tr
ansfer bus. The destination sign on the front of the bus says Cataratas (Spanish for 'Falls'). The 15 km journey to the entrance of the National Park only takes about 20 minutes. Once you arrive, admission to the National Park is $9 which includes a return trip by tram to the most impressive Falls, Garganta Del Diablo ('The Devil's Throat'). There are many extra options available if you wish to enhance your experience of the Falls. As you would expect these options cost a little extra. The most common excursion is to take a dingy to the base of the St. Martin falls. The St. Martin falls are the second biggest in the Park so disappearing under its mist is both frightening and exhilarating. The ride lasts just 12 minutes but is reasonably priced at $30. FACILITIES Facilities in the Park are second to none. All the pathways are well signposted and include the time required to finish a circuit. Along the way there are a multitude of fast food outlets and souvenir shops to break your journey. What's even more of a relief (literally) is the number of toilets all over the site. Not only do they appear spic and span but the soft toilet paper that they use is as rare as the Dodo in this part of the world! On entry to the Park you are supplied with a bilingual map (Spanish/English) that has all the information you need to decide how to spend the day. It is recommended that you allow 8 hours if you wish to see all the attractions. There are professional guides available but the way the park is organised these are not at all necessary. Not too far from the entrance to the Park there is an amphitheatre and a visitors centre with lots of information the how the Falls were created and what is being done to maintain them. A little further on a lookout in the shape of a lighthouse is a good spot to get an idea of the scope of the Park. In wha
t would seem like a perfect honeymoon location the Sheraton Hotel has a huge site in the greenest part of the Park near one of the train stations. It would probably work out a lot cheaper than Niagara (with the Peso's devaluation) if you are planning your wedding at the moment. THE FALLS While the Park contains dozens of Falls the most impressive duo are the Garganta Del Diablo and San Martin Falls. There is only one way to get to the former and that is by the 'Green Train of the Jungle'. The train is more like a Butlin's tram and departs from the parks central station every half an hour on a course parallel to the river. The carriages can be squashed at times but watching the huge masses of multicoloured butterfly's spin gracefully by is a joy. The train connects the Parks 3 stations and journey time from one end to the other is less than 30 minutes. Once you get to the Garganta Del Diablo Station (the last stop) it is just a 10 minute walk along the metal boardwalks to the viewing stands. And what a sight it is. Huge clouds of mist rise up from the depths while overhead the brown water cascades elegantly over the edge to certain Kodak immortality. At first the sight is hard to take in, the water seems to hover mid air before it makes its almost slow motion fall. There are plenty of professional photographers to capture the moment but having your own photographic evidence to record what you see is essential. It's easy to be overcome by the grandeur of it all. Being part of a smiling crowd of people of every age from over the globe is something to be savoured. While its difficult to repeat the exhilaration of this initial sight there are many other viewpoints within the park to get a visual fix. There are several trails spread throughout the park that offers differing views of the Cataratas. The 2 main tracks are simply called the Upper and Lower Paths. Each has detailed s
ignposts showing how long the walk takes and the degree of difficulty involved. In truth there is little difficulty as there are no major climbs and the path is fully paved. Both tracks depart from Cataratas Station (the middle station on the train line). The Lower Path (1.5 hours) is perhaps the most spectacular in that it gets you up to within feet of the plunging water at the Bosseti Falls. Here you come face to face with a sea of mist, thrashing water and the feeling of being inside a cold water twin-tub. The path also provides panoramic views of each consecutive drop, lined up side by side as far as the eye can see. Isla San Martin is the parks biggest island and it can be accessed by boat from the Lower Path. The island has a series of paths that lead up to its highest point that gives a different angle to view the falls from (the same as the view from the Brazilian side but much closer). The Upper Path (1.5 hours) provides vistas from above and a chance to see some of the wildlife that lives in the park. There are signs requesting that visitors be cautious of snakes but all we saw were countless anteaters who have branched out into human rubbish. They are not shy either! The Upper Path has walkways that meander through the delta of the Rio Iguazu and many of its islands and is a good option for the late afternoon. If you have not tired of walking there is another minor path known as the Green Path that passes through a marshy patch of land. This small area has the highest concentration of birds but the heavy undergrowth means that you may only hear them. OFF THE BEATEN TRACK The Macuco Track begins near the main train station but is badly marked. You'll need a hand from staff to get started but once you're on your way you won't regret it. As you enter the rainforest a sign warns about sticking to the track due to dangerous animals. This is not just scare
mongering either as a local rangers child was savaged and killed by a Puma 3 years ago. Armed with this information any noise (and there are lots of them) that is not familiar will have cold sweat weeping from your every pore. At first we thought we were alone on the track which added to our chills but thankfully we came across several other groups who seemed to have all their limbs intact. The track extends through the bush for 3km but then gets a little skewy. Finding the promised hidden waterfall was a bit of trial and error but it was a welcome relief from the cobwebs in your hair and rustling in the trees. Back in prime tourist territory it was time for a sigh of relief but the photographs of our mini trauma were enough to make the whole thing worthwhile. It's funny how being scared takes from your tan! FOZ DE IGUACU Puerto Iguazu's equivalent just over the border in Brazil is the much bigger town of Foz De Iguacu. It hosts visitors to the Brazilian side of the falls but recently made headline news because of its alleged links with Islamic terrorists. Foz is a less pleasant place than Puerto Iguazu, its landscape is characterised by skyscrapers and there is a uneasy feel to the place. The Brazilian end of the Falls has less to offer than the Argentinean side but if your holiday is limited to Brazil you can still spend a day in Argentina to view the falls from that side without having to get a visa. The brochures handed out to tourists visiting the Falls in Brazil are ridden with warnings on how to get through the day safely. While problems are rarely reported the risk is enough to dampen your enthusiasm to a greater degree than the mists from the Falls themselves. Generally a half day is enough to see everything from this side. Foz De Iguacu certainly has a more developed nightscene but whether this is that impo
rtant in one of the most beautiful places on earth is open to question. With Argentina's current devalued currency the traditional backpacker approach of staying in Foz because it is cheaper does not apply for the time being at least. When you've been on the road for over a year like us you tend to get immune to attractions that would normally transfix. The Iguazu Falls are an exception however. The majesty and spectacular size of this natural wonder will take your breath away. It is hard not to get emotional when you see them for the first time. They are simply a must if you are within a thousand miles radius.
Ok, some tips if you're planning to visit the waterfalls with 7 jumps, even bigger than the American one. Don't forget to plan everything for their winter, if you plan to be there during december, january, february... think about this twice, you will need more than a huge bottle of water, it's summer there and specially there that is a tropical forest, everywhere you turn you'll find insects. So remember to carry, no matter when you go insects repelent all the time. The waterfalls present their best jumps in the Argentinian part, that's why you'll get the superb view in the Brazilian side. You have to options one is to stay in Brazil, that is cheap although they rise prices for turism, or if not you can stay in Argentina. If you choose the second choice, you'll be glad to know that their most luxury hotel in the area doesn't cost fortunes. It's a Sheraton situated in the middle of the Argentinian National Park, so if you fancy a look to the waterfalls in the middle of night, specially when there is full moon, you won't need to get out the hotel. If you stay then in Argentina and someone offer to take you to the "punto trifinio"... save your money, theres nothing there and it's called like that because there the 3 countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay) touch each other. But it worth a day trip to the "Ruinas Jesuitas", where you can find the mission of the colony in the times where they were teaching to the indians. A visit to the tropical forest is a must, never go alone or without a proper guide, and enjoy the enviroment, maybe a typical rain and that red earth that reminds to more than one Australia. Good luck and remeber o drink lots of water!
Awe-inspiring doesn't even get close to describing Foz do Iguacu. The falls are breath-taking: a 4km arc of seething water, even in the dry season. They're on the border between Brazil and Argentina, close to where both countries meet Paraguay. You can fly to airports nearby in all three countries. The most amazing views are from the Brazilian side, but it's worth seeing it from both countries. Border crossing is easy, and it's cheap to get into the National Park on both sides. You can get close to the falls on paths running at all levels, but it's worth avoiding visiting at weekends when they can be crowded. Some walkways take you right to the drop, for that jelly-knees view over the edge. There are official tours, but if you want to be independent catch a bus from the town to the falls in both countries, or barter with a taxi driver to act as an unofficial guide. You can even splash out on a helicopter trip, or take a boat ride on the river below into the spray zone. The falls are surrounded by forest in the National Park. However, access to the parks themselves seems to be difficult to arrange, and there isn't much of a trail system running into the forest. This is the far south of Brazil, so the forest is temperate. Still interesting, but don't come expecting rainforest. There'd been heavy frosts several months before we visited, and the forests were looking very autumnal. Still scorching in the sunshine though, so get some water before you set off. You will get to see some wildlife - coatis have learnt that tourism means food. They're like red-coated raccoons and are very tame here, wandering amongst the visitors to the falls. The town of Iguacu has little to offer. It thrives mainly on visitors to the falls and conferences in several of the large hotels. Don't plan a long stay.
Foz do Iguacu is a place of amazing natural beauty. It is well worth visiting. The waterfalls can be seen from both Argentina and Brazil, everyone who goes has a favorite side as both have different advantages. I preferred Argentina, as it is easier to get nearer the waterfalls and there are enough paths over and under and next to the waterfalls to spend the whole day. There is also a boat trip you can take if you have the money, it is reasonably priced, but not if your on a tight budget. However if you do this you need to give yourself two days on the Argentina side so that you can walk around all the paths aswell, as this shouldn't be missed either. There is also a lovely beach on an island infront of the waterfalls which you can swim in while enjoying the view. You can also walk onto the top of the island to get another view of the waterfalls close up. There are parts of the waterfalls you can see from Brazil which you cannnot from Argentina and vice-a-versa, so make sure that you do both. the town of Foz do Iguacu is nice too, lots of places to stay from youth hostels to upmarket hotels and a good nightlife. It is very touristy, but nice. If you can make it, a couple of hours in Paraguay is good to add another country to your travels. All you have to do is walk over a bridge, no hassle, and you can buy lots of cheap and tacky stuff, from towels and clothes to fake CDs. It is an amazing place. worth seeing.
Iguacu lies at the point where Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina meet and is in my opinion the "best" waterfall in the world. That is the most spectacular. It is not necessarily the tallest or biggest but what it does have is variety. There are around forty separate falls in the complex. Most of these can be viewed from theclose by on the paved areas. There have in the past also been walkways out into the river but these have been swept away with loss of life. Another way to see the falls is to take a helicopter ride - not cheap (the price depends on current exchange rates) but well worth the cost and queuing. There isnt that much to do in the immediate vicinity of the falls but there are facilities nearby and there is a chance to walk in the park that surrounds them. If you walk upstream you will see a completely different river. There is some wildlife and you should at least see coatimundi near the paths as they trry to cadge from visitors.
"Foz do Iguaçu is the 4th largest city of Paraná state, Brazil and the 11th largest of the Brazil's Southern region, with a population of 309,000 habitants (including the nearby community of Santa Terezinha de Itaipu). It is located approximately 650 km west of Curitiba, Parana's capital city. The inhabitants of the city are known as iguaçuenses. It is situated at 25°50′S 54°30′W."