Iguazú Falls: Everything You Need to Know

by Sasha Selkirk

Where is Iguazú Falls? What does Iguazú even mean? How big is it? What are the best things to do once you’re there? Look no further, we’ve got you covered.

Straddling the intersection between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay this UNESCO World Heritage Site goes by many names: Puerto Iguazú, Foz do Iguaçu and simply las Cataratas (the waterfalls). Its name means “great waters” in the native Tupi-Guarani language; a name which if anything seems a bit of an understatement! Iguazú Falls comprises of 275 different cascades, stretching over 2 miles along the Iguazú River and towering up to 270 feet high – that’s over double the width of Niagara and much taller too. 

My first view of the famous falls was amid a flurry of electric blue butterfly wings on the Brazilian side of the action. Rainbows bloom from the gushing torrents only to dissolve into the rising mist moments later. The crashing of water enforces an ethereal silence on all who admire it. Even if voices could be discerned over the uproar of water at the viewpoint, I’m not sure I’d have heard anything more than gasps. 

Iguazú Falls is undoubtably one of the most magical places in South America. Here are a handful of tips to make sure you see it at its very best: 

Get every angle

To do the falls justice it is imperative that you see both the Brazilian and the Argentinian side. The first for the best panorama and the latter to get up close and personal – and absolutely drenched!

Take a boat trip 

However, you choose to experience Iguazú, you’re bound to end up wringing your clothes out over the sink at the end of the day. Even the most fastidious and determined of dressers stands no chance against the inevitable soaking – that’s right, no refashioned bin-bag, gore tex jacket, hooded poncho or oversized umbrella will cut it. Nowhere is this truer than aboard an exhilarating speedboat ride zooming as close to the torrent as humanly possible. The tour departs from the Argentinian side and tickets can be bought locally or in advance online.

Take to the Heavens

The Brazilian side of the falls boasts incredible viewpoints from above the falls but, to truly gain some perspective, add some altitude and take to the skies in style. A helicopter ride gives unrivalled views of the whole of the national park – all 275 waterfalls of it!

Look into the Devil’s Throat 

The Garganta Del Diablo or Devil’s Throat is the highest and deepest section of the falls. The narrow horseshoe roars tumultuously as water plummets 269 feet into the abyss below. On the Argentinian side, a boardwalk brings you directly over the source of this deafening crescendo. 

Wake up with view 

For a bucket-list, once-in-a-lifetime experience you can blow the budget and even stay in the National Park itself. Belmond Das Cataratas in Brazil and Gran Meliá Iguazú in Argentina offer falls-view rooms and the opportunity to have this New World Wonder entirely to yourself, before gates open to the rest of the world.   

If you’re not champing at the bit already, another photo should tip you over the edge….

Photo by Ricardo Frantz on Unsplash

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