It didn’t take long to sense the rivalry between Brasil and Argentina of which country is the best place to experience Iguazu Falls. It may not have helped to have a Brazilian guide for most of our visit because as you can imagine, he sure had an opinion on this matter. But, being able to explore both sides for myself, from gazing up at the roaring waterfall near the Devil’s Throat to peering over a 40′ drop off from a catwalk, it was pretty easy to decide which side was better.
The Rio Iguazu runs between a very small portion of the border of southern Brazil and northern Argentina. Although the river is approximately only 100 miles of the border between these very large countries, it contains one of the most impressive waterfalls in the world, Iguazu Falls. We arrived during the rainy season of Winter (in June), but were fortunate to have just missed torrential rains and have wonderfully mild conditions to explore the jungle-like setting. The cataratas (falls) of Iguazu are located in a national park shared by both Argentina and Brasil called Parque Nacional do Iguaçu (the Brasilian name.) After the spectacular falls, the Rio Iguazu only meanders a short distance before intersecting with the Parana River. It’s at this intersection that 3 countries meet, Argentina, Brasil and Paraguay.
To really see the falls, the surrounding area, and the intersection of these 3 South American countries, I recommend taking a helicopter ride. The morning after we arrived, we picked one of the several helicopter touring companies to give us a show. It was definitely a highlight. It gave a wonderful overview of the area and a breathtaking glance at the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat). This powerful waterfall is quite death defying to peer into.
After the helicopter ride, our Brasilian tour guide drove us over to the Argentinian side of the park. We had a brief look at the modern Sheraton Iguazu Resort and Spa and then proceeded to one of the many hiking trails to the falls. The Argentinian side provided many catwalks along the top of the mouth of the river to peer over the waterfalls edge, as well as trails underneath some of the same spectacular falls. (For more details see: map of the many falls of Igauzu.) We were dressed in rain gear for a good reason, you are sure to get wet, especially on the lower trails underneath the falls. Some of the catwalks seemed quite dangerous, especially since we were there during high waters. To stand within inches of the edge definitely made my adrenaline pump!
After the hikes in Argentina, we drove back to the Brasilian side where we were staying the night at the gorgeous Hotel das Cataratas. Just outside this hotel are many trails to once again view the falls. The impressive Brasilian side was quite a contrast to Argentina. Instead of intimate views of the falls, we were immediately blown away by the expansive panoramic views. It was quite a contrast from only hours earlier when we were almost touching the water. The trail continued along the edge of the river, and stopped at a viewing point as close as one could get to the Devil’s Throat. Again, the mist from the powerful falls soaked us as we stood in amazement. The sheer volume of water roaring over the edge left us speechless.
Following the hike, we returned to the hotel to warm up in the afternoon sun. We drank caipirinha’s on the porch of the colonial style resort and shared our thoughts on the experience. Clearly both Brasil and Argentina share a spectacular natural wonder. The best part is they share it in completely different ways. Argentina hands down provided the more intimate and exhilarating perspective. Being so close to each of the falls, and being able to walk on the extensive catwalk system (even out towards the Devil’s Throat) gave quite a “hands on” experience. Brasil though allowed for a respite from the adrenaline and showed a feast for the eyes. The views were like known other. The luxurious Hotel das Cataratas was also my favorite of the two places to stay. The colonial charm, and the luxurious amenities were a great way to unwind after our Iguazu adventure.
Iguazu Falls on Wikipedia
Map of the Iguazu Falls on mappery.com