Iguaza Falls

Argentina’s Natural Beauty: Iguazu Falls

The Iguazu falls are a stunning expanse of nature at the end of the Iguazu River where the border of Argentine Province Misiones and Brazilian State Paraná come together. There are between 150 to 300 waterfalls, depending on water levels from the two rivers that join here, with some plunging up to 82 meters (269 feet) deep.

Hiking The Green Trail to The FallsGetting To Iguazu Falls

Argentina Path

The major park entrances are Foz do Iguacu on the Brazil side and Puerto Iguazu on the Argentina side. You’ll need a visa for both countries, so be sure to apply well in advance for Brazil; Argentina can be done on the spot.

The best route for backpackers on a budget is by bus. There are a few options: full-cama, semi-cama or economia. The full-cama price of 656 pesos (150 USD) will get you a luxury seat that lays completely flat and includes dinner, drinks, breakfast, blanket, pillow and in-seat entertainment with 30 on-demand movies. Semi-cama, which reclines partially, runs about 60 USD, and economia ranges from 12-15 USD without any meals or comfy seating.

Definitely carry your passport on the bus, as there are random security checks throughout the journey. And don’t count on it arriving on time – the roads in Argentina are still being developed, causing up to three hour delays.

What To Bring

Sunscreen! The sun can be pretty intense so it’s best to bring a hat and a 2 liter bottle of water to refill often. Comfortable walking shoes are a must and if you want to take a speed boat ride, wear your bathing suit. A waterproof camera is best, but if you don’t have one, a plastic bag can help protect it.

The Iguazu Falls: Argentina SideChoosing Sides

Argentina Falls

Each side of the falls will give you a different vantage point. I chose to visit only the Argentine side because it was bigger and offered more activities for a full day excursion. You will need a full day, 8-10 hours, to explore all of the catwalks and activities on the Argentina side. For the Brazil side, it should only take about 4 hours or less to enter and exit the park, including travel time.

Spotting Wildlife

Argentina Wildlife

Beware of the wildlife and watch your backpack on the Green Trail! Brazilian aardvarks, or the Coatis, which are cute little raccoon-looking creatures with long tails, are all over the trails, just waiting to steal your snacks. They are not dangerous, but can get feisty if threatened. There are also several exotic birds, butterflies, insects, snakes and other creatures hiding in the trees, so look out for them.

Coati: The Brazilian AardvarkExperiencing The Falls

Arriving at the first set of falls along the catwalks at the end of the Green Trail is truly awe-inspiring. The sound of the falls can be heard from several miles away and when you are in the park, you hear them well before you actually see them. Each of the main falls has a different name, and the name plaques are set up along the catwalks to let you know which one you are viewing. At the main park entrance, you can purchase three different types of boat ride tickets. Ranging from 50 pesos to 150 pesos (11 to 33 USD), there are longer boat rides around the perimeter of the river for sightseeing as well as a 12 minute speed boat ride. This one will take you inside the mouth of the Devil’s Throat for an up-close and personal wild ride. Be sure to bring a towel or change of dry clothes – you will get wet!

Speedboat Ride at The Devil's ThroatThe Devil’s Throat

Argentina Falls In Boat

Take the train (for free) to this famous site where the steepest drop and the highest water pressure come together at the top of the Iguazu River. A 15 minute walk along the catwalk that crosses the river ends in a circular catwalk that hangs just over the edge of The Devil’s Throat, giving you the best panoramic view from the center of the falls. From here you can see both the Brazil side and the Argentina side and you can look straight down into oblivion as the rush of water takes over and you hear almost nothing but white noise. The constant mist from the flowing water creates prisms and rainbows from different angles, resulting in multiple photo opportunities. I found it easier to capture the rainbows and falls using video instead of still photography.

An Evening of Relaxation

The city of Puerto Iguazu is tiny, but you can still find hostels and restaurants catering for those heading out to see the falls. After spending a day or two admiring the scenery, you may be surprised to find what the city has to offer, including some amazing food and bustling night life.Steak Dinner at The Wagon Wheel

Argentina Falls Relaxation

Across the street from the bus station is a small grocery store with a coffee bar inside that makes excellent cortados (espresso with a shot of milk) and lattes. Next door is a small pizza and burger place that sells mouth-watering empanadas (fried dough pockets filled with beef, chicken or vegetables) for only 5 pesos (1 USD). If you want a bit more upscale meal, keep walking five or six doors down on the same street to La Rueda, which has a big wagon wheel sign hanging out front. Complete with white linen tablecloth service and a selection of juicy steak, rib eye, filet mignon and red wine, this meal will set you back about 100 pesos (22 USD).

After dinner, head over to Cuba Libre, the town’s only night club with five themed bars in one location, great for dancing to local music. There are two more bars on the same street that are more laid back. One has live rock and roll music every night and the other has a Jamaican vibe with variety of Bob Marley songs drifting across the patio.

Iguazu Falls is by far one of the most memorable experiences of a backpacking adventure in South America, appealing to nature lovers, adventure seekers and budget travelers alike. Be sure to add this beautiful wonder of nature to your must-see list.