How to do Iguazu Falls
A full guide
Hola and welcome to Where on Planet Earth! In case you got here by accident and are not yet a subscriber, here you go:
If you are thinking about visiting Iguazu you probably have lots of questions, is it worth it? which side should I see? what should I do there? how much time do I need?
First of all, GO, these waterfalls are seriously impressive. If you are into waterfalls and into feeling insignificant next to the force of nature, then don’t doubt it.
Here is what we recommend!
Why go? 275+ beautiful waterfalls in the same location, how could you not?
What side to see, Argentina or Brazil? Both!
How long do I need on each side? 1 day for Brazil, 2 for Argentina. But note that weather can be unpredictable, so it is good to add a day as a buffer.
Where should I stay? Base yourself in Argentina, we really liked La Cantera de la Jungla ($$$)
Where should I eat?
You should go to BOTH sides, it’s very easy to cross the border in a taxi and not expensive (around $30 and wherever you are staying can help organize), and it is really worth checking out the falls from different angles: panoramic from Brazil, very up close from Argentina.
We spent 2 nights in Brazil and 2 nights in Argentina, but honestly our recommendation is that you base yourself out of Argentina since the park on that side is much bigger, there are better accommodation options and restaurants, and you can easily see everything on the Brazilian side in one day. Plan for 2 days on the Argentina side.
If you can avoid visiting either park during the weekend then do. Lots of people come just for the weekend and so parks are much busier then. If you have to choose a park to go during the weekend then I would pick the Argentina one since it is much larger. Regardless of when you go you should expect lots of people at all times, these waterfalls are *very* accessible (not like others, such as Angel Falls) so it feels a bit like Nature Disney. BUT, even though I honestly hate the idea of Nature Disney (I feel like the point of being in nature is to disconnect, to be away from crowds), I would still 100% recommend going. Because at the end of the day the waterfalls are breathtaking, and having to do a line to take a bus or having a kid crying next to you won’t make them less so.
Brazil Park: Cataratas do Iguacu
There is only one trail on the Brazil park, so it is easy to see it in half a day. Get there before they open (at 9am). Once you enter the park you have to take a bus, the 3rd stop (The Path of the Falls) is the start of the trail. However, since there is only one platform over the water on the Brazil’s park and is at the end of the trail, it can get very busy the later you get there. So, we recommend to go to the last bus stop first (Porto Canoas Square) to walk the platform with less people and then do the rest of the trail, either by walking it backwards (depending on how many people there are this can be annoying) or taking the bus back one stop and walking back.
Inside the park we wouldn’t recommend doing anything else, they will try to sell you the boat excursion but this is better to do on the Argentina side.
Still in Brazil but outside the park the 10min helicopter ride over the waterfalls with Helisul is an incredible experience and worth the ~$100, and the Parque Das Aves is beautiful if you are into birds and conservation. These two things are right outside the park and right in front of each other, so you can do them after walking the park in the morning.
In between the falls and the helicopter ride grab a yummy homemade empanada at the Food Truck Empanadas Argentinas Iguassu, it is right outside the park.
If you are in Brazil for dinner go to the excellent Castelo Libanes for some authentic Lebanese food.
Argentina Park: Iguazú National Park
On Argentina you will find there main trails: lower, upper, and the one that goes to the Devil’s Throat. A little train takes you around the park. The trails are way more empty early in the morning and late in the afternoon so plan around that.
To see the Devil’s Throat without hundreds of people in the small platform, get to the park when they open (at 8am) and before getting to the main train station (Estacion Central) take a right to take the Sendero Verde, a short walk that takes you to the second train stop (Estacion Cataratas). This one is much less busy and pretty much guarantees a spot on the first train of the day. Remember to buy a ticket when you get to the station.
After seeing the Devil’s Throat you can hike the Sendero Macuco , a pretty hike in the jungle where you can see lots of animals (we saw a tucán, many butterflies, a sereque, monkeys, and many different birds) and ends at a waterfall where you can swim (not officially, but everyone does it and you should too)
See the other two waterfalls trails, upper and lower, either at the end of day 1 or at the start of day 2. Don’t forget to stamp your ticket on the way out the first day so you only have to pay half on the following. Plan to also dedicate 1/2 day to the boat ride, which takes you through rapids and under waterfalls. Although Brazil also offer this boat ride it is better to do on the Argentinian side since the ride is a bit longer and you can get much closer to some of the falls since the Brazilian boats can’t cross the “border” into those.
To eat, we really liked La Rueda a very popular place where we had interesting local specialties and excellent Suribi (fresh water fish). We also ate superb meat in De la Fonte, but not everything we had was good (we had a mediocre pasta dish).
Overall, I don’t think there is a “wrong” way to do Iguazu. Just go, admire the power of nature, get wet, and leave energized.
Hope this is useful content for your trip planning!