The lush landscape, tropical biodiversity and mesmerising charm of Iguassu Falls make it one of the most popular destinations for overseas visitors to Brazil
The most immediate image that springs to mind when thinking about the Iguassu Falls is a panorama of its 275 waterfalls, a truly breathtaking backdrop. The source of the falls is the Iguaçu River on the border between Brazil and Argentina, and the flow and the height of the falls are captivating, creating curtains of cascading water, some up to 80 metres high.
But whether you’re a thrill seeker or a romantic, the destination has something for everyone, including a resort hotel for those looking for accommodation. For those visiting “Foz” for the first time, don’t underestimate what’s on offer; there are options aplenty for an unforgettable trip.
For example, visitors can wind through forested trails that reveal hidden waterfalls at Iguassu Secret Falls. This enchanting tour can be done on foot or by bike and is always accompanied by a qualified guide.
The Parque das Aves (Bird Sanctuary) is another must-do for nature lovers. In addition to wandering around its expansive enclosures, there are two other types of tours. The park’s “Backstage Experience” allows visitors to feed some of the feathered residents, whilst the “Forest Experience” invites you to experience first-hand the way of the local Guarani tribe: Set at night around a campfire, guests are beguiled by the cultural show put on by these native Indians. The night includes singing, dancing, an indigenous ceremony, and an exotic dinner.
These traditions and cultural expressions remain as important today as they ever were—the tribe have called this region home for more than 700 years. They are considered sacred to the area, and even the name Iguaçu, meaning “Big Water”, was derived from this local culture.
And speaking of culture, the City Tour takes sightseers on a historical excursion, passing by key buildings and avenues, and stops at the Three Frontiers Landmark (which tells the story of the region’s Jesuits), the Muslim Mosque, and the Buddhist Temple.
Now, ever considered taking in the falls from above? At Skydive Foz, tourists can gasp at the magnitude of the waterfalls from an unrivalled vantage point: parachuting down from over 9,000ft.
Too much adrenaline? “Foz” isn’t just any romantic destination; it’s Utopia for lovebirds. It’s the perfect place for a honeymoon. The city’s resorts offer every convenience a couple could wish for and entertainment on tap.
And there’s no shortage of high jinks for those travelling with a family. Whilst parents explore the region, the Itaipu Kids programme offers youngsters an interactive educational programme. Dreamland is also popular, a visitor complex that houses fun-filled attractions, including the Wax Museum, Dinosaur Valley, Wonders of the World and an Ice Bar. The venue will soon open its Harley Davidson museum – not to be missed!
A spectacle of nature
Of course, the main attraction also has unique aspects; Iguassu Falls can be experienced from Brazil and Argentina. Ideally, it should be done from both sides, as the distinct views complement each other.
From the Brazilian side, visitors take a 1.5km trial bustling with life—plants, birds and other wildlife—until they are presented with the main show: a pathway that leads them to the “Garganta do Diabo” or “Devil’s Throat”. Other routes in and out of the forests allow walkers to enjoy the boundless nature.
From the Argentinian side, there are three possible routes: the upper or lower path and the Devil’s Throat, each offering a different view of the falls. The routes vary in length, 600m, 1,600m and 1km, respectively. All three allow you to immerse yourself in the abundant vegetation and birdlife that call Iguaçu National Park home.
Another extraordinary way of experiencing the Argentinian side is a tour of the full moon. This nocturnal alternative offers a very different sensory experience—you can hear nature in a way you can’t during the day: the animals and, of course, the might of the falls. Also, during a full moon, the falls are crowned by a silver rainbow.
The falls are the ideal setting for photography. That’s because the sun rises from behind the Devil’s Throat and offers the perfect lighting for capturing images of the falls throughout the day. The light is softest during the early morning hours, and the sun floods the Brazilian side by afternoon.
Sunset is the cue for birds to return to their nests, and so is the ideal time to photograph toucans and other tropical birds as they play and posture among the trees.
Three countries in one trip
The falls can be visited from three countries—Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina—so there’s plenty to do beyond the city of Foz do Iguaçu. Ciudad del Este (Paraguay) and Puerto Iguazú (Argentina) are certainly worth a visit.
Paraguay is easily accessible by crossing the “Ponte Internacional da Amizade” or Friendship Bridge, where visitors can enjoy the local shops and the open-air market. There are several historical tours and even more waterfalls: the Saltos del Monday.
Argentina is best visited at night when you can sample the local casinos and gastronomic delights. There’s also some great Duty-Free shopping to be had if you’re looking to snag a bargain. Casino Iguazú has one of the largest gaming rooms in South America, but if gambling’s not your thing, there’s also a great bar that makes fantastic food and drinks, all prepared by renowned chefs and bartenders.
Accommodation: from the simple to the uber luxurious
You’ll need a good rest after the physical and emotional exertion of the falls. The city is more than prepared to meet your needs with an array of hotels for all budgets, from the most deluxe with privileged national park views to options that allow for a more immersive contact with nature, both on the Brazilian and Argentinian sides.
With so many walks and ways to experience the magnificent natural surroundings, Foz do Iguaçu is a bucket list destination!
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