Most Americans are famililar with Niagara Falls on the border of the US and Canada, but have you ever heard of the Iguazu Falls?
Iguazu Falls, or Foz do Iguaçu as it is known in Brazil, is on the border of Argentina and Brazil and close to Paraguay. Similar to Niagara, it seems humongous waterfalls are a good place to make an international border. This is also true for Victoria Falls in Africa, though I have not yet been.
When we arrived to Puerto Iguazu on the Argentinean side of the falls, it was raining hard. I can not remember ever seeing rain that hard for that long. It literally poured all day to the point that even rain gear was ineffective. I guess it was our welcome to the jungle. Despite the rain, we were able to meet up with our German friend, Leonie, who we WWOOFed with in Argentina. The timing worked out so that after she finished her time on the farm, she was headed to the falls during the same week that we were.
The day after we arrived, we caught one of the first buses to the famous cataratas from the main bus terminal in Puerto Iguazu and arrived just before the national park opened its gates for the day. The Iguazu Falls are impressive and easily accessible, in fact, they can be viewed two ways. They can be accessed from the Argentinean side via Puerto Iguazu, or the Brazilian side via the town of Foz do Iguaçu. On the Brazilian side, visitors are offered an overview of the falls whereas on the Argentinean side, there are kilometers of boardwalks that give you different angles of the falls. Iguazu is actually made up of many smaller waterfalls, but the largest and most famous is called the Garganta del Diablo (translated: Devil’s Throat).
We decided it was best to go see the Garganta del Diablo first before the park got overly crowded. The sheer amount of water going over the falls was mesmerizing. We stared at the millions of gallons per second tumbling over the falls for about 40 minutes. I think I can agree with Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “Poor Niagara!” after seeing this monstrosity.
We stayed in the park for a total of about 6 hours until we walked all the boardwalks we could find. The boardwalks are divided into the upper and lower decks so that visitors can walk above and below the falls. My favorite spot was the outlook on the lower deck where you could get the closest (read: wettest) to the spray from the falls.
I wish my pictures could do Iguazu justice, but until you visit this “must see” in South America, they will have to do. Enjoy!
Tips for Iguazu:
- Bring rain gear and a waterproof camera
- Be careful when walking. The walkways can be slippery.
- Sometimes the trails and island close so check when you enter.
- Be careful of the coatises and monkeys. Do not feed them and keep an eye on your belongings.
- The first train to the Garganta del Diablo won’t leave until about 8:15am so there is no need to arrive before then.
Bonus: Just for curiosity’s sake, let’s compare the 4 “largest” waterfalls of the world: Angel Falls, Victoria Falls, Iguazu Falls, & Niagara Falls.
- Angel Falls in Venezuala, is the tallest by height.
- Victoria Falls is the largest sheet of falling water by height and width.
- Iguazu Falls is the longest (by width) waterfalls (275 waterfalls).
- Niagara Falls has the highest average yearly waterflow.