Iguazu Falls, Argentina is by far one of the most incredible, breathtaking places in the world.
I have seen a fair share of waterfalls in my travels, but none of them left such a strong impression as Iguazu. Take Victoria Falls (the massive waterfall marking the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, Africa), for example. Honestly, it is amazing and massive – but it can’t compare to Iguazu Falls.
Have you heard of Kaieteur Falls, in Guyana? It is one of the most unique places on earth, and not many people visit it (provided they even know where it is). Well, I have been; I loved it, and I strongly encourage you to visit (here’s a complete guide to visiting Kaieteur Falls, just in case). But once again, it can’t compete with the grandeur of Iguazu.
What about the famous Niagara Falls, then? Put it this way: upon visiting Iguazu Falls in Argentina, Eleanor Roosevelt said “My poor Niagara.”
Iguazu Falls are made of a huge series of large and small waterfalls (the amount really depends on water levels) that you can admire from an incredible array of viewpoints. There are so many, indeed, that you can easily spend a couple of days visiting Iguazu Falls, especially if you decide to view them from both the Argentine and the Brazilian sides (which I wholeheartedly recommend).
After sharing some background information about Iguazu Falls, this post will provide all the advice you need to organize your visit to Iguazu Falls, Argentina, as well as some tips to visit the Brazilian side.
Few places are as special as Iguazu Falls
A Practical Guide To Visiting Iguazu Falls, Argentina
Some background information on Iguazu Falls
Iguazu Falls, or Las Cataratas del Iguazú in Spanish, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and were named one of the Seven Wonders of Nature in 2011. They stretch for almost three km between the Argentine province of Misiones and Brazilian state of Paraná and they are the largest waterfall system in the world (though they are not the highest ones).
They are so spectacular that, if you are planning a trip to South America, you should make sure to include them in your itinerary.
Iguazu Falls are constantly changing, and that your experience there may change a lot depending on the year you visit, on the time of year you visit, and even on the day. Visit after some heavy rains, and some trails may be closed due to flooding, and some wooden paths even completely carried away by the water. Other times, there may be very little water.
When I visited Iguazu Falls, the flow of water was nice and strong, but it hadn’t rain in a while so I could walk all of the trails and paths to all the viewpoints. But, since there was a lot of water, I still got (pleasantly) sprayed by the myst.
This is what Iguazu Falls look like after heavy rain
Best time for visiting Iguazu Falls
I’d dare say that any time is a good time to visit Iguazu Falls, and no matter when you go you’re bound to having an incredible experience. Having said that, I recommend visiting in either the shoulder or the dry season, when you’ll have higher chances of clear skies but the temperatures are not as hot.
If you manage to go at the very beginning of the dry season, you should be able to see the falls at their fullest. I visited at the end of February and was very lucky, with 3 full days of sun – though it was actually very hot and humid.
December to February is the rain season, but the other side of the coin is that you get to see the waterfalls in their full power. April to June is the dry season, and August and September are even drier and cooler.
Iguazu Falls receive tourists any time of year, but if you want to avoid the largest crowds don’t go in January or July, when it is peak summer season for the Argentines, or when they are having their winter break.
How long should you stay in Iguazu?
I recommend spending at least 2 full days (and 3 nights) visiting Iguazu Falls. Both the Argentine side and the Brazilian side take a full day to visit, if not more. Yes, there are guided tours that go to both sides in one day, and there even are day trips from Buenos Aires (more about that later) as a last resort; but this is a place that deserves to be seen at a a relaxed pace to be fully enjoyed.
If you have a chance, visit both sides of Iguazu Falls – the experience will be different!
Which side should you visit?
If you are on a trip across Argentina, it only makes sense to visit Iguazu Falls in Argentina. However, if you are spending a few days in the region (which I wholeheartedly recommend), you should visit both sides. After all, Brazil is literally just across the river. Both Argentina and Brazil have national parks, but the experience you’ll be having in each of them is different.
If you have the option of visiting both sides, visit Iguazu Falls, Brazil, first. If you only have time for one, opt for the Argentine side. The Brazilian side is very panoramic, and you’ll get perfect close up photos of the giant waterfalls.
But the Argentine side of Iguazu Falls is honestly much more fun. You’re literally IN the waterfalls. Trails take you above them, below them, under them (if you do the boat ride), and you can see a lot of wildlife.
The view at Garganta del Diablo
The best trails and viewpoints in Iguazu National Park
You should factor in a minimum of 6 hours in the park, though I recommend spending a good 8 hours there to walk all the trails at a nice pace and spend plenty of time to admire the views.
Once you are inside Iguazu National Park, in Argentina, you should take the Jungle Train (Tren de la Selva) which stops in 3 different places. Make sure to get off at the stop immediately after you get on, as this is the starting point of the Upper and Lower Circuits. These two are meant to take you around the park and to all the best viewpoints to fully enjoy Iguazu Falls. I recommend walking both of them.
The Upper Circuit is a shorter trail of less than one km that takes about one hour to complete. It has a wooden path that takes you to the top of the falls from where you can enjoy impressive views.
The Lower Circuit is a longer trail that will take you up to 3 hours, with several viewpoints. This is the trail you need to walk to catch the boat to San Martin Island and the boat that goes right under the waterfalls.
Once you have walked both circuits, you can go back to the train stop to get on the next train going to the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat). Once the train stops, just take the wooden trail that leads to the waterfalls for about 1.2 km (one way). Along the way, you’ll be able to spot lots of turtles and at times even crocodiles in the water.
Make sure to factor in enough time to visit the Garganta del Diablo, as it seriously is the highlight of Iguazu Falls. It’s massive, and the views is nothing short of amazing.
Another trail you can take is the Macuco trail, which goes all the way to Arrechea Waterfall. It’s a nice nature walk that should take you around 3 hours in total and during which you can admire lots of wildlife, and which takes you to a lesser visited part of Iguazu National Park where you can even swim in a natural pool.
Though the best views of Iguazu Falls are bound to be from the sky, I recommend not doing a helicopter tour. Argentina has banned them a few years ago, in an attempt to reduce the level of noise which causes noise pollution and disturbs wildlife. They are still available from the Brazilian side, but please refrain from doing it!
The wildlife in Iguazu is very abundant
Wildlife in Iguazu Falls, Argentina
Make sure to keep your eyes wide open when visiting Iguazu Falls, as you will be seeing lots of interesting wildlife. Birdwatchers will be in for a treat, as there are beautiful, colorful toucans and yellow-eyed bluebirds. You will also spot lots of coatis, which are quite similar to raccoons and not shy at all. Make sure not to feed them – though they will try to grab your food! And by all means don’t pet them: they may bite or scratch, and that hurts.
Needless to say, there are also lots of monkeys and supposedly also jaguars – though I haven’t heard of anybody who’s spotted these elusive mammals.
Read my post “The Complete Guide To Becoming A More Responsible Traveler” to discover how to behave with wild animals and in natural areas.
Practical Information About Iguazu National Park
Iguazu National Park in Argentina is open every day from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Visitors are allowed to enter until 4:30 PM.
Entrance to the National Park for non residents is 700 Argentine Pesos (ARS), which at the current exchange rate is about $15.4 USD. You can buy tickets directly at the park, paying in cash (only pesos accepted) or by credit card. If you validate your ticket at the ticket window upon leaving you can get a 50% discount on your second visit (but only if you visit on two consecutive days).
Tickets to Iguazu National Park include access to all the trails, boat ride to San Martin Island and Tren de la Selva. Boat tours that go under the waterfalls are extra.
Inside the park you’ll find toilets, restaurants and kiosks.
Make sure to dress appropriately and be prepared to get soaked!
What to wear when visiting Iguazu Falls
Wearing comfortable clothes and shoes is a must when visiting Iguazu Falls, Argentina. However, it’s also very hot, and you’re likely to get wet – so perhaps wearing sandals is a better idea. Having said so, this is a list of essentials you should wear and pack for your day at Iguazu Falls:
- A pair of good walking sandals, best if they have good grip and traction on the slippery paths;
- A pair of shorts, best if quick dry. I recommend Kuhl Strattus Chino;
- A cotton t-shirt or a tank top. I love Kuhl Sonia;
- A poncho – it folds really small and you can just wear it if the spraying from the waterfalls is extreme;
- A quick dry towel to dry yourself after the boat ride;
- A swimsuit – it’s a good idea to just wear this on the boat ride, so that your clothes don’t get wet (you can keep them in the provided dry bag) and it dries much faster than regular underwear;
- A refillable water bottle – I am a fan of Lifestraw;
- Sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun;
- A good camera to capture amazing photos – I use a Nikon D3300 and for a place like this I recommend a 18 – 105 mm lens. Alternatively, a smartphone with an excellent camera will do;
- A daypack, best if with a rain cover such as Osprey Daylite Plus.
How to get to Iguazu Falls from Puerto Iguazu
Getting to Iguazu Falls from Puerto Iguazu is very easy. Buses leave regularly from the bus station to go to Iguazu National Park. Alternatively, you can take a taxi.
Guided day and multi-day trips to Iguazu Falls
You can easily visit Iguazu Falls independently making use of public transportation. A guided tour will likely provide a more complete experience, especially if you manage to get a knowledgeable guide that shares a lot of information about the geology of the waterfalls, the nature and the local wildlife.
These are some good tours of Iguazu Falls, Argentina, all departing from Puerto Iguazu – the closest town on the Argentinian side:
- From Puerto Iguazu: Argentine side of the waterfalls full day tour – an excellent option to visit the entire Iguazu National Park from the Argentine side.
- From Puerto Iguazu: Argentinian Iguazu Falls with boat ride – you honestly do not want to miss that boat ride; you’ll get drenched but it’s so much fun.
- Iguazu Falls tour, boat ride, train and safari truck – the most inclusive tour, with literally all the activities.
- Iguazu Falls private tour of the Argentinian side with optional boat ride – pretty much like the ones before, but it is private.
- From Puerto Iguazu: Argentina and Brazil side of Iguazu Falls – this tour visits both sides of the waterfalls in one day so it is perfect if you have very little time in the region.
- 3 days Iguazu Falls exploring tour – it may seem expensive, but it spans over the course of 3 days; it departs from Puerto Iguazu and goes to both sides.
Sunset in Iguazu Falls is plainly amazing
Visiting Iguazu Falls at night
One of the coolest things to do in Iguazu Falls is exploring it at night. The overall experience is incredible – animals are more active then; the waterfalls glow in the natural light of the moon and the starts, and the atmosphere incredibly eerie. This isn’t something that happens every day, but just when there is a full moon. So, if it is something you are interested in doing, make sure that your travel plans to Iguazu coincide with a full moon.
Night tours of Iguazu Falls take place for 5 consecutive nights every month. There are 3 departures – one at 7:45 PM, when you see the moon rising; one at 8:30 PM, when you see the final stages of the rising moon and the falls start being better illuminated by the natural light; one at 9:15 PM, which honestly is the best one as you this is when the falls will be better illuminated.
This is a good guided night tour of Iguazu Falls:
Day trips to Iguazu Falls from Buenos Aires
I wholeheartedly recommend spending at least a couple of days in Iguazu to fully enjoy it. However, if you are tight on time (ie you are on a business trip to Argentina) and only have a spare day, you’ll be glad to know that there are guided day trips that depart from Buenos Aires and that include round-trip flights and a guided tour of Iguazu National Park in Argentina.
It will be a very long day, with a very early departure (the flight lasts about 1 hour and 45 minutes) and it won’t be cheap. But if a day is all you have, it is still worth it in my opinion.
These are the best day trips to Iguazu Falls departing from Buenos Aires:
- Iguazu Falls private day trip from Buenos Aires with flights
- Private tour of Iguazu Falls from Buenos Aires, including airfare
Are you visiting Buenos Aires? Make sure to read my posts “25 Unmissable Things To Do In Buenos Aires” and “A Complete Guide To Where To Stay In Buenos Aires.”
If you have time, also visit the Brazilian side
Going to the Brazilian side
If you are spending a few days in the region, you should also consider visiting the Brazilian side of Iguazu. Going there is very easy: buses depart from the main bus station in Puerto Iguazu and take you across the border. Once you are there, the driver will collect all passports for border control, and will get them back to you stamped.
If you have a US passport you need to arrange a visa to travel to Brazil. You can do so here.
If you’d rather join a guided tour to visit the the Brazilian side of the waterfalls, these are some good ones that depart from Puerto Iguazu:
- From Puerto Iguazu: Argentina and Brazil side of Iguazu Falls
- Brazilian side of the falls with tickets
- Iguazu Falls half day tour to Brazilian side
- Brazilian falls with boat adventure from Puerto Iguazu
When in Argentina, visiting Iguazu Falls is a must!
Practical Tips To Organize Your Trip To Iguazu Falls, Argentina
Where to stay in Puerto Iguazu
Puerto Iguazu is the closest town to Iguazu Falls in Argentina, so it makes sense to look for accommodation there – unless you want to opt for one of the expensive hotels inside the national park. As it is a very popular destination, there are lots of excellent accommodation options.
This is a selection of good places to stay in Puerto Iguazu:
- 125 Hotel is a very good hostels with a large dorm and several private rooms. There is a small pool where guests can relax, and a good breakfast is included in the price. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Falls Iguazu Hotel and Spa is the best option if you want to pamper yourself a little. Rooms are very large, modern and comfortable. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
- Jasy Hotel is close to the center of Puerto Iguazu and at a very short distance from the bus station. It has very large rooms – in fact, they are more like chalets; a good restaurants and bar; and a nice small pool. Click here for the latest rates and here for reviews.
Guided tours of Argentina that also go to Iguazu Falls
If you aren’t a fan of organizing your travels, if you don’t have time to do so or if you just want to leave the boring planning to the experts, you should join a guided tour that also goes to Iguazu Falls, Argentina. The following are some excellent options:
- Iguazu and beyond – this GAdventures tour departs in Buenos Aires and goes all the way to Rio, via Iguazu.
- Iguazu Falls independent adventure – G Adventures has two versions of this tour: a regular and an upgraded one. Both of them go to both sides of the falls; the upgraded one includes some meals and offers nicer accommodation.
- Best of Argentina 3 weeks – a great 21 days tour that hits the best places to visit in Argentina, including Patagonia, Iguazu Falls and Salta.
- Argentina family trip: Buenos Aires, Salta and Iguazu – a good 8 days option that focusses on the the north of the country.
- Salta, Iguazu Falls, North and South – a 2 weeks tour goes that covers the north and the south of Argentina.
- 12 day tour to the north of Argentina – this tours goes to Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls and the province of Salta.
- 9 day trip to Buenos Aires, glaciers and Iguazu Falls – a perfect tour if you want to visit the two extremes of Argentina.
- 4 day tour of Iguazu Falls from Buenos Aires – it goes straight to the point, so it may be a good add on to a trip that doesn’t include a visit to Iguazu Falls. Transfer is by bus.
- 3 night tour of Iguazu Falls by air from Buenos Aires – similar to the one above, but you will travel by plane.
How to get to Puerto Iguazu
Puerto Iguazu is well connected to the rest of Argentina by plane and bus. Flights land at the airport which is close to the city. There are regular daily flights that leave from Aeroparque Jorge Newbery in Palermo, Buenos Aires. The main companies flying to Puerto Iguazu are LATAM, Aerolinas Argentinas and as of late Norwegian Air. The flight from Buenos Aires takes 1 hour and 45 minutes.
Rio Uruguay has overnight buses from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu. The ride takes around 17 hours.
Other useful information
Much like for any other trip, I recommend getting a good insurance when visiting Iguazu and the rest of Argentina. Check out my post “Why You Need A Good Travel Insurance.” You can get your insurance here.
For further readings about Iguazu and Argentina, you may consult one of these guide books: