Surrounded on both sides by green vegetation and standing just at the border between Brazil and Argentina, visiting the Iguazu Falls is an experience for all your senses; the never-ending sound of the water rushing growing to a blaring roar as you get closer, the force of the water moving the air out of the way making your hair blow in all directions, the cooling spray rising from the bottom refreshing your skin and causing you to think the water flows to nowhere… Iguazu might just be the perfect waterfall, and no words could make justice to how beautiful it is.
For those living in Brazil, the falls are called ‘Saltos do Iguaçu’; for Argentinians, on the other hand, the falls go by the name of ‘Cataratas de Iguazú’. But it doesn’t matter from which side of the world you see them, they will take your breath away.
Meet the Falls
The Iguazu Falls are made up of a different range of cataracts, each having their own wonders.
One of them is the Santa Maria Cataract, falling over the Brazilian side of the border. It is interrupted halfway by a plateau where the water is dotted here and there by huge moss- covered rocks and a walkway crosses over it, giving you the most amazing views from up and down the falls, where a colorful rainbow will surely appear with the droplets of water floating everywhere.
Another cataract worth mentioning is the Garganta del Diablo or Devil’s Throat, but don’t let the name terrify you; a walkway runs from the Argentinian side of the horseshoe-shaped fall to the edge of it, letting you stare directly at the wall of water dropping into the void below and disappearing into the spray that rises. A completely harmless wonder.
You can also get to see the Rivadavia Falls or the Three Musketeers Falls among many other. Iguazu extends across a couple of kilometers and some of the cataracts it has are only reachable by boat, others are only visible from an island sitting in the middle of the river above the waterfall. The bright green rainforests surrounding both sides of Iguazu have been made into national parks as well, and you can visit them and explore.
Argentina holds most of Iguazu inside its borders, but some of the best views are on the Brazilian side, and you don’t have to worry about waking up early as the sunlight doesn’t hit the lower parts of the waterfall until a couple of hours after dawn. At sunset is when the real beauty of Iguazu shows itself. Travel agents on both sides offer trips over the day, so it’s fairly easy to cross over from Brazil to Argentina and vice versa, and you won’t even need a visa.
Where to stay
The Brazilian side of the border is not as developed as the Argentinian one, but if you’re looking for a place to stay in this side you should really consider picking the Tropical das Cataratas hotel. The hotel is inside the national park and has a Portuguese colonial style. Some of its rooms are overlooking part of Iguazu, and you can get to the top of the clock tower and watch the sunset from a birds-eye point of view. The hotel also offers privileged access to the waterfalls, especially on Mondays when the park is closed to non-guests.
Even though there are some warning signs telling you about jaguars and snakes on the area, you can walk down to the waterfalls at night, when the roar of the water feels even louder; and if you combine your visit with a full moon, there are special night visits open to everyone, and the moonlight is bright enough for you to make out the spray floating.
How to get there
There are flights to the Brazilian town Foz do Iguaçu from both Rio de Janeiro and Saõ Paulo. Many people take day trips from these two cities to the Iguazu Falls, but it’s very much recommended to stay for a couple of days so you can visit the Argentinian side and take in as much of the falls as you can. You can raft on the rivers, explore the rainforests at the sides and even get the best views from a helicopter ride.
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