Iguazu Falls, Iguassu Falls, Foz do Iguaçu, or Foz de Iguazú. Not technically one of the seven wonders of the world, but definitely could be, in my book.
I describe Foz as the Niagara Falls of South America, but it’s even more than that. You have to see it to believe it; feel the power and force behind the thousands of gallons per second that are rushed over the edge. Iguazu currently has the sixth-greatest average annual flow of any waterfall in the world, following Niagara, with an average rate of 1,746 m3/s (61,660 cu ft/s). Its maximum recorded flow was 45,700 m3/s (1,614,000 cu ft/s) in June 9, 2014. By comparison, the average flow of Niagara Falls is 2,400 m3/s (85,000 cu ft/s), with a maximum recorded flow of 8,300 m3/s (293,000 cu ft/s). There are approximately 275 individual waterfalls that make up Iguazu. It’s truly awe-inspiring. The most interesting aspect of this “wonder” is that it is on the border of Brazil and Argentina, with 20% of the falls on the Brazil side, and 80% on the Argentina side. Even though I’ve heard mixed reviews of both sides (“Argentina side is better”, vs “Brazil side is better”), I have to honestly say, it depends what you’re looking for. Those wanting to truly experience Foz, I highly recommend visiting both the Brazil and Argentina side.
Personally, I’ve been looking forward to seeing Iguazu for months and knew I wanted to visit both National Parks. However, some might not feel that need.
For example, if you only have a few hours and don’t care about walking around much, but just want to see it, stick to the Brazil side. The trail is along the waterfalls the entire time and only takes about an hour. (Unfortunately, it was raining [see: torrential downpour] for us and all other activities were canceled, otherwise we would have done the 9k hike/bike/jeep tour which ended with kayak, wildwater rafting, and speed boat ride to the top of the falls. I hear it’s epic – Next time!) Also, the Brazil side feels nicer, more like Disneyland with a tram and definitely more organized. Argentina felt older, a bit run down and you were definitely on your own to figure everything out. Both were great, just a different experience.
Otherwise, if you have one full day, I suggest Argentina. There are more trails leading to more look out points. Plus, you can take a boat ride which races you to the foot of the falls where you literally get soaked. Some people were wearing poncho-pant suits (I didn’t even know these existed!), and others were in their bathing suits. Either way, definitely bring a change of clothes. I haven’t laughed that hard in a while. Imagine people from all over the world, no one can see due to the amount of water coming down, and everyone is laughing with their eyes closed. Quite the sight 😉
Although, if time isn’t a concern and you have the luxury, you can’t beat getting the best of both worlds and seeing both perspectives – Brazil and Argentina. As we walked, we kept thinking, “The view can’t get better than this”, then you turn a corner and it does. Wow!
We stayed at Che Largato Hostel in Brazil, which is a popular (high-end) hostel chain and they had transfers to the Argentina side of the falls. Park fees were $53 Real for Brazil ($18 USD) and $260 pesos for Argentina ($30 USD) and worth every penny. Also, if you’re traveling in South America, I HIGHLY recommend Che Largato for accommodations. I haven’t done the hostel thing much, and as an almost 30-year-old (ekk!) I feel I may be past my prime to do it, but their facilities are nothing like any hostel I’d imagine; private rooms, awesome staff, great (free!) breakfast, rooftop jacuzzi and (small) pool, and the best part… Free caipirinhas every night on the roof for sunset! They have hostels all over South America so check them out.
Our first night, we met an amazing couple from Washington who we joined up with for Foz Argentina and we’re already planning a Patagonia trip together next month. Best thing about traveling, is meeting great people along the way.
Ciao Brazil, it’s been hot, crazy, fun, and truly unforgettable.
But, Argentina is calling…