Yesterday I wrote about the first leg of my recent South America trip, which I spent in Buenos Aires. From there, flying out of the city’s domestic airport, I traveled to Puerto Iguazú to spend a couple of nights at The Iguazú Grand and to visit Iguazú Falls. I admit I haven’t seen a ton of waterfalls in my life, with the exception of Niagara, Gullfoss, Blackwater, and the roadside variety that form in the mountains of West Virginia after a good rain or snow melt. I knew that Iguazú Falls were going to be big, but nothing could have prepared me for what I saw when I arrived.
If you’ve never been to Iguazú, there are multiple trail circuits, including an Upper, Lower, and Devil’s Throat circuit, that take visitors to different parts of the falls (visitors reach the trails via train; good maps here and here). We got to the park early, before the gates opened and when crowds aren’t quite so bad, advice from our guide that I highly recommend taking. Our first destination was Devil’s Throat, accessed via the most remote of the park’s trails. Reaching Devil’s Throat is an experience unto itself, as it requires walking more than a kilometer along a metal catwalk that snakes along atop the upper Iguazú River. (The experience is made all the more dramatic when you make the journey in monsoon-like conditions, complete with thunder and lightning, like we did. Still, it was fun.) At 262 feet high, Devil’s Throat is the tallest of Iguazú’s 275 falls. (That makes it almost twice as tall as Niagara.) Figures vary, but on average, 1,500 cubic meters of water flows over the falls and into the Iguazú River below every second, but that volume can climb to 13,000 cubic meters of water per second in wetter, rainier times, which are typically between November and March. The falls were nice and full when we arrived, and a thick, heavy mist added an extra dose of drama to the gray day.
From Devil’s Throat, we moved on to the Upper Circuit, walking along the top of the falls and looking out over the Iguazú River, over to Brazil on the other side. The views of the falls from here were my favorite because you can stand, quite literally, on top of the falls and watch the water drop toward the earth right below your feet. One important thing to note about visiting the falls is that you can stay on the Brazilian side or the Argentinian side. If you’re a U.S. passport holder, entering Brazil will require an additional tourist visa, which isn’t needed for travel to Argentina. If you stay on the Brazil side (check out the Belmond), you’ll get the best uninterrupted panoramic views of the falls, but if you stay on the Argentina side, you’ll get to walk along them and experience them close-up, like we did. I highly recommend staying on the Argentina side.
Next, we took the Lower Circuit down to the bottom of the falls…
We ended our visit by walking along the river to board a boat that would take us right into the bottom of the falls. The ride was thrilling, and we got soaked, but it was worthwhile to have another perspective of the falls. Our boat ride ended with a leisurely cruise down the river, with Argentina to our left and Brazil to our right, and an incredible day at the mighty Iguazú Falls behind us.
Have you been to Iguazú Falls? I’d love to hear about it—if you went during a dry time, a wet time, and if you took the boat ride into the falls. If you haven’t been to Iguazú, I can’t recommend it enough!