But Which Side Is Best?
Wider than Victoria and higher than Niagara, the mighty Iguacu Falls have been one of the highlights of our South American expedition so far.
A total of 275 individual falls occupy an area more than 3km wide and 80 metres high and are truly a beautiful and breathtaking sight.
Forming the boundary between Brazil and Argentina, on either side a national park surrounds the falls offering trails, adventure sports such as rappelling or kayaking, boat trips and helicopter flights for a unique experience.
No matter what activity you decide on, witnessing the falls from both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides is a must as we think each is equally spectacular, offering incredible views from different perspectives.
Here is a photo essay and round up of what we experienced from both sides of the falls.
The Brazillian Side – Parque Nacional do Iguacu
At the Brazilian side of the falls we found long queues of people waiting to buy tickets at the entrance gate, but we did visit during the Christmas holidays. The queue moved steadily and thankfully was shaded from the sun as it took around 40 minutes for us to reach the front.
The entry ticket price was 49 reals per person (around 20USD), and in our opinion a very fair amount for access to one of the new ‘Seven Wonders of the World’.
After going through the entry checkpoint we boarded a double decker bus that takes visitors to various viewpoints located at different sections of the park. A free map available on entry listing the different viewpoints along the route makes the park easy to navigate, so remember to pick one up.
Another handy tip! Near to the entry gates where you wait for the buses there are also ‘banheiros’ which are both clean and convenient. There was actually no queue for these toilets unlike at other restrooms in the park, so you will save time and energy if you can use these before you get on the bus.
We departed the bus at Stop 14 which is the hop off point for the ‘Cataratas Trail’. This is an easy walking trail offering several panoramic viewpoints of the waterfalls. As it was such a busy day, people were queuing to take photographs from the balconies, but this really wasn’t a problem as most people were patient.
The ‘Cataratas Trail’ leads all the way to the foot of the Salto Floriano and access to the ‘Devil’s Throat’ viewing platform.
From the viewing platform there are amazing views of the ‘Devil’s Throat’, the biggest waterfall in the park pouring out from nearly 90 metres high.
Wayne used a filter to give him a longer exposure for this day time shot, producing the silky smooth effect of the water.
The platform gives visitors a really good view of the falls from below, however it was extremely crowded and it was also a very wet experience as there is continuous spray from the falls.
We took a waterproof camera to allow us to take photographs from this particular viewpoint. A lot of Brazilians wore swimwear, but if you are not keen on getting yourself or your camera wet, a poncho may also come in handy!
We braved the spray and dried off quickly in the sunshine!
You can also see the ‘Devil’s Throat’ from both the Taroba Spot and the Naipi Spot where an elevator takes you up 27 metres to allow views of the falls from a series of balconies looking across and down on them.
Wayne spent quite a while here looking down on the people moving back and forth on the lower walkway in front of the ‘Devil’s Throat’ photographing multiple shots of the falls and the walkway to produce a unique time lapse from this position. (The results of which can be viewed in a future South America time lapse movie).
We spent the entire morning at the Brazilian side of the falls, arriving around 9am and leaving around 1.30pm. This was enough time to enjoy the Cataratas Trail at our leisure and take plenty of photographs.
We didn’t buy any food during this visit, as we had found the cafés and restaurants expensive on the Argentinian side and prices here on the Brazilian side were exactly the same. Buying water and snacks before you enter the park or taking your own picnic lunch therefore will save you a bit of money if you are on a tight budget.
The Argentinian Side – Parque Nacional Iguazu
We arrived at the Argentinian side of the falls around 11am at which time there wasn’t much of a queue for entrance tickets.
The entrance fee was 140 Argentinian pesos (around 18USD), slightly less than entry to the Brazilian side depending on the exchange rate.
We wanted to take a boat ride under the falls, which the guidebooks recommend is best to do from the Argentinian side, so we booked in advance through our hostel the ‘long’ boat ride as opposed to the ‘short’ boat ride.
The boat ride was great fun and it was very wet and wild, but we didn’t exactly get what we thought we were paying for.
The price list above details the different packages available regarding the boat rides. We opted for the ‘Gran Aventura’ thinking that the boat ride was a much longer trip taking you to both sides of the falls. In fact, what made the trip longer is that you get a half hour ride in a jeep on a safari tour, where a guide explains the flora and fauna within the park before you reach the jetty where the boat departs from.
This is a little further down the river than where the people taking the ‘Aventura Nautica’ boat rides depart from, but for the extra cost we feel it’s simply not worth it. In total you get around 20 minutes on the actual boat which navigates around the lesser falls on the Lower Iguazu River, taking you under a couple of the smaller falls so that you get wet. That is the fun part! But it’s all over far too quickly!
In hindsight, we should have taken the ‘Aventura Nautica’ boat ride, which was basically the same as ours apart from us starting a little further along the river. It’s a big difference in price (an additional 200 pesos each) for a jeep ride and an extra 5 minutes in the boat – so we recommend that you choose the boat options carefully, especially if you want value for money.
Another long exposure shot using a filter.
Despite our slight disappointment with our ‘Gran Aventura’ boat option, we still thoroughly enjoyed visiting the falls. Viewing them from the Argentinian side offers a completely different perspective and is well worth making the effort to get there.
We had already entered Brazil a few days before, and actually had to cross back over the border into Argentina (going through the usual passport control procedures), which is why we didn’t get there until 11am having left Foz city at 8.30am.
Arriving late morning meant that we stayed at the falls until 6pm. You can easily fill a day at the Argentinian side of the falls as there are a number of different walking trails to keep you busy!
There is the ‘Green Trail’ leading to waterfalls through the forest, the ‘Upper Trail’ leading to upper panoramic views of the falls, the ‘Lower Circuit’ leading to lower panoramic views of the waterfalls and an access walkway to San Martin Island (which was closed on the day we visited as the water levels were too high) and the viewing platform leading to the ‘Devil’s Throat’.
Different to the lower walkway on the Brazilian side, the viewing platform for the ‘Devil’s Throat’ on the Argentinian side offers views from above and straight down the river valley. This is a good viewpoint to take in the sheer size and scale of the falls which are truly immense. You can’t help but stand memorised by their size and immense power.
As with the Brazilian side, views of the ‘Devil’s Throat’ were our favourite aspect of the day, along with experiencing the falls up close and personal on the boat ride.
Our photographs will hopefully convince you that both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides of the falls are well worth visiting if you have the chance to add both to your itinerary!
Spending time at the falls has definitely been one our favourite experiences in South America so far… Another bucket-list moment!