Iguacu Falls, Brazil/Argentina, is arguably the premier waterfall in the world. It is much larger and more impressive than Niagara, and, even though Victoria Falls in Africa is larger, it is almost always shrouded in mist and difficult to see. The falls are 1350 kilometers (840 miles) from Buenos Aires and approximately 1600 kilometers (1000 miles) from Rio de Janeiro, so driving is not recommended. There are airports on both the Brazilian and Argentine sides of the falls and there are buses or cabs available between the two countries.
The falls complex is absolutely huge. There are actually almost 300 separate falls with an incredible amount of water dropping over 200 feet (70 meters). The length of the falls is over 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles).
The best panoramic views of the falls are from the Brazil side, in the Parque Nacional Foz do Iguacu, accessible from the town of Iguacu Falls. From the Visitor Center, take a shuttle bus and get off at the Macuco Safari stop if the thrill of riding a motorboat to the base of the falls is part of the plan (passengers may get wet!). The next stop is the Hotel das Cataratas, the most important stop since it allows access to the Cataratas Trail, a 1.5 km (1 mile) walkway, which provides incredible views of the Argentine falls. The paved walkway ends at the base of Floriano Falls, where a catwalk allows the courageous or perhaps foolhardy to experience the full power of the falls and also to get a glimpse of the Garganta do Diablo (Devil’s Throat), the horseshoe-shaped end of the falls. From the end of the walkway, there is an elevator which brings visitors to the top of the falls and to the Porto Canoas complex, which has a souvenir shop, and a snack bar with terraces overlooking the falls (fantastic place to grab a bite with a view). Other activities are also available, such as helicopter rides, hikes, etc.
The Argentine side of the falls provides a more up-close-and-personal experience. Once again, the falls are within a national park, Parque Nacional Iguazu, which, like its Brazilian neighbor, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From the Visitor Center, take the Sendero Verde (Green Path) which leads to the beginning of the Upper and Lower trails.
The Circuito Superior (Upper Trail) takes the visitor a distance of approximately 1 kilometer (½ mile) along the falls, affording great views. Look for the swallows that nest on the ledges behind the curtains of water.
The Circuito Inferior (Lower Trail) brings the visitor down numerous steep stairs to the base of the falls. Note the Penon de Bella Vista (Rock of the Beautiful View). The last section of this trail affords views of the Garganta del Diablo (see above) and provides access to a pier where a boat carries the visitor to Isla San Martin, an island at the base of the falls with majestic views.
Besides the walks, visitors can take the Jungle Train (Tren de la Selva) which stops at Devil’s Throat where a platform allows visitors to peer down into the horseshoe-shaped gorge, the main falls area..