Iguazu Falls in Argentina and Brazil: A Guide

Iguazu Falls

Curious about where to find some of the most impressive waterfalls in the world? Welcome to Iguazu Falls, located on the border between Argentina and Brazil. This guide will give you key facts, the best visiting times, and tips for enjoying the falls from both countries. Whether you’re planning a visit or just interested in learning about this UNESCO World Heritage site, here’s what you need to know about Iguazu Falls.

Did you know these facts about the Iguazu Falls?

  • At any given moment, up to 7,000 cubic metres of water rush down the vast expanse of Iguazu Falls. This impressive volume of water cascades over an area more than 2,700 metres (1.68 miles) wide, comprising between 150 and 275 individual waterfalls, depending on the season. This makes Iguazu not only wider than Africa’s Victoria Falls, but also higher than North America’s Niagara Falls.
  • The Devil’s Throat (Garganta del Diablo) is the most majestic part of the falls. In this section, 14 waterfalls plunge into a gorge 150 metres wide and 700 metres long.
  • The first European to set eyes on the falls was the Spanish navigator and explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca in 1542, who initially called them “Saltos de Santa María”. Despite his attempt to christen the falls, the original name did not survive.
  • Long before its discovery by Europeans, the Iguazu Falls were revered by the indigenous Tupi-Guaraní and Paraguas tribes, and served as a sacred site for burial ceremonies. The name “Iguaçu” itself comes from the Tupi-Guaraní language and means “great water”, a testament to the grandeur of the falls and the deep cultural ties to the land.

Where is Iguazu Falls located?

Iguazu Falls is located on the border between the Argentine province of Misiones and the Brazilian state of Paraná. This natural landmark is part of the Iguazu River and lies upstream from the confluence with the Paraná River. The falls are accessible from two main points: the city of Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil and the town of Puerto Iguazú in Argentina, with the nearby Paraguayan city of Ciudad del Este also close by, making it a tri-border area.

The geographic positioning of Iguazu Falls makes it a unique destination, as visitors can experience the falls from both Argentina and Brazil, each offering distinct views and experiences. The falls themselves stretch over a wide area, with numerous individual cascades spread across the landscape.

Brazil vs. Argentina: Which side of Iguazu Falls is better?

When it comes to experiencing Iguazu Falls, visitors often wonder which side offers the better view – Brazil or Argentina. The truth is, each side provides a unique perspective and set of experiences that cater to different interests and preferences.

Brazilian side: The Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls is known for its panoramic views. A single, expansive walkway offers a broad perspective, allowing visitors to see the falls in their entirety. This side is ideal for those who want to capture stunning landscape photographs or appreciate the scale of the falls from a distance. The Brazilian park also features a walkway that extends close to the Devil’s Throat, offering an impressive viewpoint of the largest and most powerful section of the falls.

Argentine side: Argentina’s side of the falls offers a more intimate experience. With a network of walkways and trails, visitors can get up close to many of the individual falls, including smaller cascades not visible from the Brazilian side. This side allows for a more detailed exploration of the natural environment, including the flora and fauna of the Iguazu National Park. The Argentine side also provides access to the top of the falls, offering a different perspective on the water’s power as it plunges over the edge.

So which side is better? The answer depends on what you’re looking for. If you want panoramic views and the convenience of seeing much of the falls from a single viewpoint, the Brazilian side is for you. If you prefer to explore and get closer to the action, wandering through trails and enjoying various viewpoints, then the Argentine side will satisfy your adventurous spirit.

Ideally, if time allows, visiting both sides of Iguazu Falls is highly recommended. This approach ensures a full appreciation of this natural wonder, from its grand scale seen from Brazil to the intricate details and up-close experiences offered by Argentina.

visit the Iguazu Falls

What is the best time to visit the Iguazu Falls?

Choosing the optimal time to visit Iguazu Falls depends on personal preference, as this natural wonder impresses year-round. However, the periods from late March to May and August to early October are highly recommended.

The window between late March and early June avoids the Easter holiday rush, offering sunny weather with manageable levels of heat and humidity. Rain is less frequent, making this a relatively quieter period for visiting, especially on weekdays. This timeframe also tends to have better availability and pricing for accommodations.

From August to October, the climate is slightly cooler, ideal for those interested in trekking through the lush rainforests surrounding the falls. While these months experience less rainfall and the waterfalls might not be at their most voluminous, their beauty remains undiminished and compelling.

On the other hand, the months of December to February see the falls at their most powerful, with high water levels creating a spectacular display. This period is marked by higher temperatures and humidity, which can affect comfort levels. Additionally, it coincides with local holiday seasons, leading to increased visitor numbers and potentially making accommodations harder to find, especially on weekends.

How to get to Iguazu Falls

The falls are situated in the less-accessible regions of both Brazil and Argentina. To visit Iguazú Falls, you have the choice of heading to Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil or Puerto Iguazú in Argentina. While a 16-hour bus ride from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazú offers comfortable, fully reclining seats, flying is often the faster and more convenient option.

Foz do Iguaçu Airport (IGU) is roughly seven miles from the city center, with taxis and buses readily available. Similarly, Argentina’s Cataratas del Iguazú International Airport (IGR) is located 10 miles from Puerto Iguazú and provides good transportation links.

When visiting Iguazú Falls as part of a trip to Argentina or Brazil, it’s better to stay in the town where you’ve landed to avoid the hassle of crossing the border with your luggage for day trips. Foz do Iguaçu, being larger, offers a wider range of accommodations, eateries, and nightlife.

Additionally, if you find yourself in Paraguay, you can access the falls from Ciudad del Este, the country’s easternmost city, serviced by Guarani International Airport (AGT). Crossing the border to Foz do Iguaçu is straightforward via the Friendship Bridge over the Paraná River, providing an easy route to the falls.

How many days in Iguazu Falls is enough?

Planning the perfect trip to the Iguazu Falls depends on how much time you have and what you want to see. In general, allowing two to three days for your visit strikes a good balance, allowing you to fully experience both the Brazilian and Argentine sides of the falls. This timeframe gives you enough flexibility to explore the main attractions, enjoy some of the trails and maybe even fit in a boat tour or a visit to the nearby bird park. Remember, each side offers unique views and experiences, so taking a few days ensures you don’t have to rush through this natural wonder.

You want to learn more about the amazing national parks in Brazil? Read more about Tijuca National Park!

Click on the links below to see more related Dicas:
The Majestic Mountains of Brazil
Seasons in Brazil
Much Love For Nature

This post is also available in: English Português (Portuguese) Español (Spanish)

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