Dec 21, 2017|
Last updated on March 24th, 2021 at 11:26 am
The Ultimate Travel Guide to Iguazu Falls
A Natural Wonder of South America
Iguazu Falls, known to some as Foz do Iguacu, Cascada Iguazu, Iguassu Falls, or Iguaçu Falls, is an absolute must-see while on a tour of South America. 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. 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. You might even find yourself searching for the best Iguazu Falls Tours by the time we’re finished. Read on to find out everything about Iguazu Falls in South America! Let’s begin!
A brief history of Iguazu Falls
Iguazu Falls in South America 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 in South America 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 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 tour in Buenos Aires, tour in Rio de Janeiro, or tours to 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.
Arriving from Paraguay: Another way to see the Falls is from Paraguay. From Ciudad del Este you can arrive to Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil via bus or car. You can also take a ferry from Avenida General Bernardino Caballero, Paraguay and take a ferry to Puerto Iguazu, Argentina.
Visa Requirements for Argentina and Brazil
Based on your nationality, requirements may differ. You can visit our Brazil visa page and Argentina visa page to learn more. 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. For the most up-to-date information about visas for visiting Iguazu Falls in Argentina or Brazil, contact each respective embassy nearest you.
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 South American holidays 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. The rainy season offers higher water flow, 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 Iguazu Falls and how long you need to visit
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 or a tour Itaipu Dam, the world’s second largest hydro-electric power plant.
Entry into Iguazu Falls 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. However, with our tours 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 in advance so you are whisked right into the park and can spend more time enjoying the sights.
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 Iguazu Falls National Park:
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 in 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.
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!
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.
South America 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 of days on your journey to South America.
- Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Machu Picchu and Iguazu Falls Tour
- Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and Iguazu Falls Tour
- Jesuit Missions and Iguazu Falls Tour
- South America Deluxe Tour
Call us today and let us help you plan your dream trip to South America. An Expert Travel Consultant can help save you hundreds of dollars, not to mention time and energy when planning your journey to Iguazu Falls.