Spanning the border between Brazil and Argentina lies one of the most impressive systems of waterfalls in the world. Iguazu National Park in Argentina and Iguacu National Park in Brazil collectively hold the falls and the amazing ecosystem that goes along with them. Before visiting, we had to decide from which country we would visit the falls.
Researching the falls and information we received from word of mouth told us that we couldn’t go wrong visiting them from either side. In fact, the best way to experience the falls would be to visit both sides. The Argentinian side has the majority of the falls, but seeing them can be difficult as visitors are essentially on top of them. The Brazilian side has the better vantage point to see them, but doesn’t allow for access to the majority of the smaller falls. From the perspective of price, entry on the Brazilian side is about $65USD per person while the Argentinian entrance is less than half at $25USD per person. In the end, we opted to visit from the Argentinian side as the price was a lot easier to swallow and the system of walkways gives better access to the falls.
Having made our decision, we had one final obstacle to overcome before visiting the park. The rain began to fall nonstop in the days after crossing into Argentina scrapping our plans to visit the park right away. As we waited, cabin fever (or should we say Alaskan Camper fever) set in and we couldn’t take it anymore. Rather than wait for two more days for the weather forecast to become favorable, we packed up the truck and headed to the park.
Despite the rain, the park was extremely busy with other tourists. A small system of trains moves passengers between areas of the park and each of them was almost entirely full. We boarded the first train to the first station then immediately boarded the next train to visit the most impressive falls at the far end of the park.
El Garganta del Diablo or Devil’s Throat is the name for the main falls in the park. After getting off the train, a small pathway lead us a few feet above the river from island to island. For nearly a mile, we walked, and walked, and walked until we began to hear the rumble of the falls in front of us. A misty cloud would occasionally rise up nearly 100 feet above the river level. As we came closer, we could start to make out the river making its way to the edge of the falls. Eventually, we arrived at the end of the path to see the magnificent, powerful effect of the falls dropping nearly 300 feet below. As the mist from the falls would rise, the small breeze blew it onto us and it was oddly warm. We took a few pictures and marveled at the scene in front of us. Resembling drowned rats we retreated back towards the train.
After boarding the train, we returned to the middle station to begin exploring other walking paths near the center of the park. Our first path was the superior path which took us along the upper edge of the falls. In many places, the pathway allowed us to look right over the edge clear to the bottom. Towards the end of the path, we could make out the Garganta del Diablo path in the distance.
These guys are called Coatis and are everywhere in the park. Pretty cute little buggers!
When we returned from the upper path, we set out for the lower path which takes visitors along a route below the falls. From this path, we could finally see how enormous the falls system truly is. In many places, it is possible to see upwards of 200 waterfalls at the same time. Water was falling from the river, from cliffs, from islands. Waterfalls were coming from waterfalls. So impressive were the sheer number of falls that it almost seemed impossible to be able to exist in nature.
We continued along the lower route which ultimately ended up near the bottom of one of the largest falls in the park. As we walked to the end of the pathway, the power of the water hitting the ground below could be felt as the ground shook and the mist tried to blow us away. Again, we returned to the pathway resembling drowned rats.
From many of the photos, it is noticeable that the water appears to be brown or red. The reason for this is a combination of heavy rainfall upstream and deforestation in those areas. As the rain falls in deforested areas, the erosion pulls the soil into the rivers and changes its color. Interestingly, there were photos of the river over a period of several decades and the progressive “coloration” of the river.
So, what was our final assessment of the park? We underestimated the size of the park greatly. It is huge! Initially, we thought we would see the main falls along with a handful of others and be on our way in an hour. After spending the better part of an afternoon there, we now know how incredible it really is. We spent about four hours at the park in the rain, but on a clear day, it would be better to plan for six to eight hours. The pathways were pretty slippery so bring good shoes for your visit. Better yet, bring sandals with good soles as your feet will get wet. Speaking of getting wet, had it not been raining, we wouldn’t have brought our rain jackets which would have been a huge mistake. You will get soaked from the mist of the falls in many places. Even on a clear day, bring a rain jacket. Finally, this is a bucket list place to visit. We were surprised by how many people from around the world were at the park. Our method of traveling simply brought us to this area somewhat by chance, but people actually travel here as a destination from all over the world. After visiting it in person, we certainly understand why.