The second place I visited during my recent Argentinian adventure was Iguazú Falls, which is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of South America. Less than a two hour flight (or a VERY long drive) from Buenos Aires, this area is a must for nature lovers. I met a few people on our flight who were actually just flying in and out same day to visit the Falls – so that is a great option to keep in mind.
When I first found out I was going to on this trip, naturally I looked up all the places we were going to visit on the internet. When I saw the pictures of Iguazú Falls, I remember thinking how beautiful it looked and how excited I was to see them in real life (or IRL, for you young’uns reading this). Well, let me tell you, pictures can’t even come close to doing justice to the breathtaking beauty and sheer power of the Falls. Not. Even. Close.
But since pictures are all I can share with you (until you go to see it for yourself, which you should!), we’ll have to make do.
Pretty awesome, right?
I was extremely lucky to go when I did, because the visa requirement for U.S. citizens to visit Brazil was temporarily lifted due to the Olympics…and this allowed us to easily visit the falls on both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides. This is something I definitely recommend, because they are different experiences and both very worthwhile.
We visited the Brazilian side first, where we walked a pathway along the canyon and marveled at the beauty of all the various falls. Walking along the path (which is not too strenuous and you can take at your own pace), you will experience a constantly changing perspective. I would snap a picture thinking it was the most beautiful shot I could take, and then five steps later, I’d think…whoa! This is even more beautiful! And that happened again and again.
The falls stretch on for 1.7 miles, encompassing 275 independent waterfalls. The most famous area on the Brazilian side is Devil’s Throat (Garganta del Diablo), which is the start of the falls as well as the highest point – measuring 269 feet high.
The sheer power of the water is indescribable. It’s so thunderous you can feel it.
Visitors can also take a boat ride that goes into the falls. I didn’t have the time to do that, and honestly I wasn’t prepared to do it even if I could. Because – as you might imagine – you get completely and totally soaked. If you want to do the boat ride, you should – but bring an extra set of clothes and shoes that you can keep dry and change into. For an aerial view of the Falls, you can also take a helicopter ride…but only on the Brazilian side.
Once you get to Devil’s Throat, there is an elevator that can take you back to the top, saving you the need to climb a couple hundred steps. We were there toward the end of the day and I felt so blessed as I watched the sun set over the Falls.
The next day, we headed to Iguazú National Park to see the Argentinian side of the Falls. This was a very different experience as it allows visitors to see the area at the top of the falls…calmer waters (in some areas), lots of greenery and birds.
The shot above was taken while walking along the trail (about 3/4 of a mile long) that leads to the top of Devil’s Throat on the Argentinian side. As you near the end of the trail, you hear the falls before you see them. But once there, you are rewarded with another stunning view:
The black spots that you can see in the mist are actually Great Dusky Swifts that fly through the powerful falls to perch on the inside rock walls.
The Argentinian side of the falls also has two different trails visitors can take: the upper falls and the lower falls. We only walked the upper falls trail. The lower falls trail gets you closer to the water, but requires a lot of stair climbing (no elevator here). But the upper trail views are still amazing and gives you the ability to look over the edges of the falls.
I mean, come on, right? Is that not one of the most beautiful things you’ve ever seen???
One thing I really want to say about this area of the Falls is how incredibly accessible it is. The walkways are wide, sturdy and flat. I saw older people with canes, as well as a couple of people in wheelchairs. There are some rest areas along the way with benches, so you can take a breather, if needed. I was incredibly impressed by this because so many of the natural wonders of our world aren’t very accessible to people who are not completely mobile. This one is…so take advantage of it!
There are several places to eat within the park, so it’s very easy to spend the day there – and I highly recommend that you do so.
The actual city of Puerto Iguazú is small, but you could easily spend a few days here visiting both areas of the falls, or even take a day trip into Paraguay.
The sheer beauty of the falls is something that I will never forget and am so grateful to have experienced. If you are interested in visiting, let’s talk! And if you’ve already been there, what did you think?