Iguazu Falls is one of the natural wonders of the world and pictures can't do it justice.
The powerful feeling of going right up to the mouth of this series of waterfalls is not something you'll soon forget. Life feels fragile and uncertain as you walk up to the epicenter, keeping your fingers crossed that the engineers that built the walking and observation structure knew that they were doing.
Iguazu Falls is located at the corner of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. It’s an hour and half flight from Buenos Aires making it an easy day trip. Technically, there are two sides to the waterfall, just like Niagra. Except if you are visiting Iguazu and want to visit both sides, you will need to obtain a visa to cross over to Brazil. With our limited time in Argentina, we opted to just do the Argentine side of the falls so that we could visit in one day and then leave early the next morning for El Calafate in Southern Argentina.
To maximize our day, we took an early flight out of Buenos Aires and arrived in Puerto Iguazu around 11 a.m. The entrance to the falls is in between the airport and the town where the bulk of the hotels are located. Rather than dropping our stuff off at the hotel before doubling back to the park entrance, we opted to rent a large locker to place our baggage in for a nominal fee.
For those of your traveling to Iguazu you don’t need to worry about booking a car to your hotel. There are numerous taxis that will provide you a round trip deal, taking you to the park and then when you are finished touring the falls, they will pick you up from the taxi stand and take you the rest of the way to your hotel.
Once you arrive at the park entrance, you stow away your baggage, pay the entrance fee and if you don't have water already, I recommend purchasing some at the gift store. Unlike Buenos Aires, this part of Argentina is extremely humid and tropical (at least during the summer when we were there), which causes you to sweat, so it was important to stay hydrated.
Because it’s tropical, this area often experiences sudden rainfall, a lesson we learned the hard way. If you plan to visit, definitely pack a poncho or two and make sure everything you are carrying can fit in a waterproof purse or bag. Mine held up very well, thank goodness, considering all my important items were stowed in there: my iPhone, kindle, passport and wallet
Another thing you need to be mindful of is that Brazil is in a different timezone than Argentina. This messed up my boyfriend’s phone, making us think for awhile that we had less time than anticipated to spend walking through the park. Fortunately, a guide filled us in, but it was still a little disconcerting that the phone thought we were in Brazil.
The park itself is comprised of three main trails. I recommend going in ascending order, this will help build up to the experience, culminating in the trail that takes you to the edge of the major falls.
The walkways are a series of trails and over-water structures that take you up close to the water. It’s a spectacular way to see the falls from multiple angles. Iguazu is actually made up of a series of waterfalls, the exact number changing depending on how much rain and water are flowing from the Iguazu River.
Views are obstructed by a large island that sits in the middle of the river below the falls. Because of this, it is important to follow each of the trails in order to see all the falls have to offer.
On these trails you'll find an array of wildlife. Coati look like a mix of raccoons and anteaters and aren't afraid of getting up close and personal as they scavenge for food. If you are lucky you will also see some monkeys. We stumbled across one that was trying to open one of the garbage pails along the walkway, he jumped and ran along the handrail getting close to us and a flock of other tourists.
And if you are like me an always need to know the whereabouts of the nearest bathroom, have no fear, at the mouth of each of these trails are places use the restroom and grab food. The whole park is impressively organized, catering completely to all the tourists who visit.
The third and final trail you need to get to by train. After a short 10-15 minute ride you arrive at the start of the trail, unlike the other, this one is a straight out and back, bit a circle. And this one is completely on a metal walkway which can be slippery, especially after random downpours. You have to have a lot of faith in the apparatus because you are walking over the river that will eventually turn into the falls. It's trippy. The water is calm in places and roaring in others and at times and it culminates in a downpour that creates so much mist, you can't even seen the bottom.
You have to spend at least 15 minutes at the end of the pathway to take in the sheer power of the falls. Be careful though, it's windy and I definitely feared I'd lose my phone or my Panda. If you've been to Niagara Falls and think that nothing could be more powerful than that, you are greatly mistaken. This is just so much MORE.
A stop to Iguazu Falls is a must for visitors traveling to Argentina, Brazil or Paraguay. You won't regret it working this into your travel itinerary.