Brazil or Argentina for Iguazu Falls?

The stunning Iguazu Falls are situated on the border between Brazil and Argentina (with Paraguay very close by, too). On the right bank is the Brazilian territory, which makes up just over 20% of the falls, while the left side is Argentine, and this comprises almost 80% of the falls. Despite this larger size in Argentina, most tourists flock to the Brazilian side to marvel at the roar of the water.

Official 2015 Park Map (click to enlarge)
Official 2015 Park Map (click to enlarge)

The Iguazu Falls are part of the Iguazu River on the border of the Argentine province of Misiones and the Brazilian state of Paraná. For most of its course, the river flows through Brazil, however, most of the falls are on the Argentine side. Numerous islands along the 2.7km edge divide the falls into many separate waterfalls, though the number of these fluctuates depending on the water level. Approximately half of the river’s flow falls into a long and narrow chasm called the “Devil’s Throat”, which is 82m high, 150m wide, and 700m long.

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As far as tourism is concerned, there are two international airports close to Iguazú Falls: the Argentine Cataratas del Iguazú International Airport, and the Brazilian Foz do Iguaçu International Airport. Argentina’s airport is 25km from the city of Iguazu, but is closer to the falls hotels than its Brazilian counterpart. Aerolíneas Argentinas and LAN Airlines have direct flights from Buenos Aires to Iguazu International Airport, whereas Azul, GOL, and TAM Airlines offer services from Rio de Janeiro to Foz do Iguaçu.

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So why do more people visit the smaller Brazilian side, as opposed to the Argentine side where there are more falls? Well, I personally think it’s to do with the larger scale of tourism in Brazil in general, which means more people are in the country and fancy a flight down to the Iguazu Falls. In Argentina, however, it is much farther away from the possibility of international tourism (except from within South America) so there are much fewer tourists readily available to check out the wonders of the Argentina side of the falls. There is an entrance fee to the park on both sides (around $25 each, although the Argentine side is usually a couple of Dollars cheaper). The two parks have been proud UNESCO World Heritage Sites for nearly 30 years.

On the Brazilian side, there is a walkway along the canyon with an extension to the lower base of Devil’s Throat. Helicopter rides offering aerial views of the falls are available from here. There are also modern open-top buses, which give visitors unobstructed views of the area. On the Argentine side, the “Paseo Garganta del Diablo” is a 1km trail that brings visitors directly over the falls of Devil’s Throat. Other walkways allow access to the elongated stretch of falls across the forest on the Argentine side and there have also been inflatable boat services that take visitors right under the falls.

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Compared to other, less-interesting waterfalls in the Americas such as Angel Falls in Venezuela and Niagara Falls in the US, Iguazu Falls is simply incredible, and is one of the true “must-see” natural wonders of the world! If you can easily get your tourism visa for Brazil (not available on arrival for US citizens), then I would always suggest a trip to the Brazilian side, as this is a great way to embrace the lack of falls as a way to explore other areas of the park, whereas I thought that the Argentine side is more about the roar of the water!

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2 thoughts on “Brazil or Argentina for Iguazu Falls?

  1. Your photos are awesome! I have dream to visit there, someday. The landscape of Iguazu is so beautiful, I think this is one of the best natural wonders of the world 🙂

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