In Iguazu they say that Argentina has the falls, but Brazil has the view. While the majority of the falls do sit on the Argentina side of the Iguazu River, the panoramic views that take in huge swaths of the falls are far more dramatic in Brazil. Even if you are based in Argentina, visiting the Brazilian side of the falls is relatively painless, with fast-moving migrations and guides that can cross borders, though a visa is required for U.S. and Canadian citizens to enter Brazil—a very expensive visa that must be obtained in advance. Admission into the Brazilian side of the park is 37 reais per non-Mercosur (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay) resident.
Entering Foz do Iguaçu National Park, the Brazilian name, is similar to the Argentine side. You enter the park through a large visitor center, but rather than board a train, air conditioned buses transport you from one point to the next. Much less time is needed to visit the entirety of the Brazilian side, just 2–3 hours, though additional activities such as helicopter rides over the Garganta del Diablo can be added and make the trip a full day. There is just one, 1.25 mile, trail that straddles the cliff face that looks over the river and towards the Argentine side of the falls. Several miradors along the way offer great photos. The final stretch extends out over the river and faces the Garganta del Diablo, offering a completely different perspective than from Argentina. You will get wet here. Afterwards an elevator lifts you up to a small tower for the broadest view of the falls yet.
Jesuit Ruins of San Ignacio
Another trip offered by most operators is a full day excursion to the Jesuit Ruins of San Ignacio, a UNESCO world heritage site about 170 miles from Iguazu in Argentina’s Misiones Province. The site, one of the best preserved Jesuit ruins in the region, dates back to 1696 and was inhabited until the early 19th century. The accessibility form Iguazu has made San Iganacio one of the most visited in South America. Trips include a stop at the semi-precious stone mines at Wanda.
All excursions mentioned above are available through Aguas Grandes, 011-54-3757-425-500, www.aguasgrandes.com.
There are dozens of tours offered in the Iguazu area, though the canopy tours are one of the most popular that aren’t at the falls themselves. The half day excursion on a private reserve about thirty minutes outside of Puerto Iguazu includes a short rappel off a cliff and extremely short hike are quite popular and take about a half–day, though the majority of the time spent involves getting the mostly North American passengers on and off the bus rather than real adrenaline rushes.
For more information contact Iguazu Forest, Mariano Moreno 58, Puerto Iguazú, 011-54-3757-421-140, www.iguazuforest.com.
For Iguazú, Argentina visitor information, visit www.iguazuargentina.com.
For Iguaçu, Brazil visitor information, visit www.cataratasdoiguacu.com.br.
Story and photos by Nicholas Gill.