This has to be one of the most breathtaking sights I’ve ever seen. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Iguazu Falls are in a huge subtropical rainforest and stretch over 2 miles with more than 250 individual waterfalls. The roar and the spray which can be heard and seen some distance away as you approach the falls only give a hint of this awe-inspiring wonder of the world you are about to experience.
The falls are situated about 12 miles from the town of Puerto Iguazu on the border of three countries, Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil, in the Parque Nacional Iguazu.
We had booked a local guide to take us to the park and guide us through the network of trails, walkways and the eco-train that helps reduce the amount of walking. However, it is so well signposted and organised that it really would have been easy to do ourselves, though the guide was very good at pointing out wildlife and giving us some other helpful hints.
The largest waterfall, Garganta de Diablo (Devil’s Throat) at 80m high is the most spectacular and via a series of catwalks it is possible to walk surprisingly close to the edge, so much so that we felt the spray even though it was a very still day. The roar was deafening. It was very exciting to be so close to such a huge force of nature.
I estimate we walked around 5 or 6 miles on the paths and walkways to see all the main waterfalls. For anyone with walking difficulties there are wheelchair facilities and it is possible to see a fair few of the main falls, though it would not be possible to access them all. And it is true to say that in some areas the walkways were a little steep and rather slippery, so shoes with grip essential.
One of the highlights of our day was a powerboat ride. Suitably attired with lifejackets we bumped at speed along the river to the foot of one of the falls. As we saw the boat attendants completely covering up from head to toe in heavy waterproof gear (including marigold gloves!) I looked rather tentatively at my husband, as I was already feeling rather nervous, who assured me it was just for show. Five minutes later we were completely engulfed in spray so it was impossible to see. With the deafening roar ringing in our ears it was also impossible to hear. At the same time it was both terrifying and exciting. We had just got our breath back when the boat sped off again under another fall for a second soaking. We clambered off the boat completely drenched from head to toe, but exhilarated. Luckily our guide had pre-warned us to take a change of clothes which we had sensibly left with him whilst on board, though drybags were provided for all passenger’s belongings.
We had a one day ticket and spent around seven hours in the park with a break for lunch in one of the restaurants. However, should you prefer, you can buy a two day ticket and explore some of the jungle trails as the park is a haven for a huge diverse number of birds and mammal species.
One thing I would advise, though, is to get there as early as possible in the morning when the park opens as there are lots of day trippers and I’m told that particularly at the weekends and over holiday periods it gets extremely over-crowded. Wear good walking shoes, a hat and plenty of sun-tan lotion. You may also get rather wet from the spray (particularly on a windy day) so a small towel or change of clothes may be advisable and if you intend to go on the power-boat trip as we did essential!
As an experience it is pretty hard to beat. However, the park opens for full moon walks. So when I do return, as I hope to one day, I would definitely schedule my visit to coincide with a full moon as that may just about top this experience. But only just.