The Iguassu Falls (or Iguazu in Spanish), has been listed as a UNESCO world heritage site since 1984, and is considered one of the most beautiful water falls in the world. It is among the must-see holiday destinations when visiting Brazil, and certainly one of our most popular vacation packages.
Iguassu means “big waters” in the Guarani Indian language, spoken by the main indigenous group in this region. The falls are in fact a group of 275 cascades spread out over 2700 meters. They are located in the heart of a protected tropical forest, along the river that acts as the border between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay further to the north. They are easily visited from both the Argentinian side (Iguazu) or the Brazilian side (Iguaçu) which offer very different views. A system of walkways and bridges exists to guarantee access right up to the falls for everyone. The very pleasant town of Foz d’Iguaçu is only a few miles away and is very cosmopolitan with lot’s of shops and other attractions.
Our other tours that include visits to Iguassu Falls
Visit an extraordinary wonder of nature, the Iguassu Falls.
See the most phenomenal natural site in Paraná
Due to its impressive size, this majestic group of waterfalls is a wonderful opportunity to admire the titanic forces of nature. Also remarkable, is the adaptability of the plants that survive in the shadow of the enormous waterfalls.
You will uncover a unique ecosystem that flourishes under the constantly falling water, punctuating the cascades with small oases of greenery. The environment here leaves you with permanent and special memories of a wonderful experience.
Straddling the border between Argentina and Brazil, the falls offer very different views from the Argentinian side and from the Brazilian side. Our tours allow you to enjoy this wonder of nature from both sides, for the best overall impression.
Tourist attractions in the surrounding region of Iguassu
Although the main attraction is obviously the waterfalls, seen from both sides, there are other tourist attractions around Iguassu. If you choose to spend some time here, we have selected three extra options you can add to visiting the falls.
For thrill seekers, or those simply searching for another viewpoint of these amazing falls you can opt for the Macuco Safari Boat trip. This will take you right up to the foot of the cascades. You will be amazed by the view and realize how noisy the falls are, which adds yet another dimension to your experience.
If you are interested in bird – watching, nature or photography, we recommend that you visit the Parque das Aves bird sanctuary. It is the largest in Latin America, with 16.5 hectares set aside for over 1000 birds, a unique way to discover some of the extraordinary treasures of Brazilian fauna.
Several large aviaries allow you to wander through and mingle with the Aras, Toucans and other parrots. You can see some rare birds such as the Harpy Eagle, the most powerful bird of prey in the world or the formidable Cassowary. There are about 150 species in a beautiful tropical setting; it is a fantastic day out.
Finally, you can visit the famous Itaipu Dam. The second largest hydroelectric dam in the world after the Three Valleys site in China. It spreads out over 7km and is almost 200m high. It was built at the end of the 1970’s during the dictatorship, with the aim of serving 90% of the Paraguyan population and 20% for Brazil. Guaíra falls, which were the largest in the world in terms of volume at the time, were unfortunately flooded, to create the reservoir.
Visit Iguassu (1 Night)
For those who don’t have much time or who simply want to see the falls in one day.
Concentrate only on the essentials and visit the falls from both sides in one day. Our package stop over in Iguassu.
Stay in Iguacu (2 or 3 Nights)
If you prefer to take your time and want to enjoy other activities while staying in the Iguaçu region, our second option is the one for you.
You can, for example, go on the Macuco safari, which takes you as close as possible to the waterfalls on board powerful motor boats. Or visit the birdpark to see the rare local birds. In 2 or 3 nights you can enjoy our package Stay in Iguacu.
More information on the Iguassu Falls
The Iguassu Falls, also known as “Iguazu” on the Argentinian side, are a true natural wonder.
Spanning almost three kilometers, they spread out majestically in a succession of magnificent cascades dotted with little green islands, that add a dose of charm to this beautiful landscape.
There are 19 main falls, with five spread over 800m on the Brazilian side and 14 over 1900m on the Argentinian side. These cataracts can reach a staggering 1 756 000 liters per second in volume of water, the equivalent of an Olympic pool every two seconds! The height of the falls vary from 40 to 80 meters. The most famous and highest cascade is the Garganta do Diabo (Devil’s throat) which is 700m high.
These cascades are part of the Iguaçu natural park created in 1934 by the initiative of the airplane inventor Santos Dumont. The park is listed as a Natural heritage site by UNESCO and as a reserve of Mata Atlantica, the Tropical Atlantic Forest. The natural park is therefore exceptionally well preserved, providing a perfect landscape for the falls which justifies, without doubt, a stay in this natural wonder.
Iguazu, Iguaçu or Iguassu ?
Should we write Iguazu Falls or the Iguassu Falls ? Whilst surfing the web you will certainly have seen both spellings and you may wonder if it is just a typo or what is going on with all these spellings!?
The answer is simple : language ! The Brazilian’s talk about “Iguaçu” with a ç (cedilha) as written in Portuguese whereas English speaking people usually write “Iguassu.” In Argentina, you will find that they use “Iguazu” with a z as it is a Hispanic country.
Now you can see why, on the Travel Brazil Selection website, we use Iguassu and not Iguazu!
Top Iguassu Falls FAQs
When is the best time to travel to Iguassu Falls?
The best time to see Iguassu Falls is from December to February. This is when the falls are at their fullest and most majestic, but the local weather is hot, humid and there is more chance of rain. From April to September is the drier season, there is better weather and more tourists. Also, the islands and trails in the rainforest are more accessible during these months. Depending on what you want to see more, you will have to decide between seeing the falls at all their glory during the wetter weather or better access to the islands and walking trails during the warmer weather.
What do you need to travel to Iguassu Falls?
Not surprisingly, even if it is not raining, you will need a raincoat to travel to Iguassu Falls! Especially if you plan to walk the trails that bring you close to the water on the Argentinian side, you are likely to get splashed and sprayed. It is also advisable to bring waterproof covers for your belongings if you plan to take them out with you during the day. The Macuco Safari for example, will take you right up to the foot of the falls, waterproof clothing is a good idea if you plan on taking part. Good mosquito repellent is also advised, especially if you want to watch the sunset in peace! Do not forget to bring your passport when/if you are crossing the border between the Argentinian side of the falls and the Brazilian side!
What is there to see at Iguassu Falls?
Iguassu Falls from the Brazilian side
There are five main falls to visit from the Brazilian side, which provides the best overall view of the falls. Here, you can really take in the majesty of the natural site and see the horse – shoe shape of the falls. The falls on the Brazilian side are 900m wide and the waterways are dotted with small islands, each with their own micro – ecosystems. You can explore these islands with your guide who will tell you all about the plants and animals who live on them including capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys and toucans alongside hundreds of other bird species. Also, you can visit the Itaipu Dam, one of the largest in the world!
Iguassu Falls from the Argentinian side
Most of the Iguaçu falls lie on the Argentinian side of the border so it is definitely advisable to take a day or at least half a day to explore them. Also, the paths and footbridges on the Argentinian side are more developed than those on the Brazilian side so you have better access to the falls for those who like to get close up to the action! There is a choice between the upper walkway, which is about 650 metres long, and the lower walkway where you can experience the might of the falls closer to the base. Garganta del Diablo (The devil´s throat) also lies on the Argentinian side of the falls. The largest and most impressive of the cascades it is 80m high and about 700m wide!
The Macuco Safari is an excellent option for those who really want to explore and get up close to the falls. You start off at the Macuco Safari base and cross the subtropical jungle for about 3km in purpose built electrical vehicles. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about the various plant and animal species present in the region. After this first part, you dismount and continue to the jetty by foot (about 500m away), where you will climb aboard a powerful RIB boat. (It is possible to complete the last 500m by vehicle if you wish). The boat will set off up the river heading towards the foot of the falls. Here, if you have chosen the “all thrills” option, the driver will bring you right up to the foot of the falls, as close as you can possibly be. The “less thrills” option keeps a certain distance from the falls so you are less likely to get wet, this is a more suitable option for taking pictures!
“Parque das Aves,” the bird park in Iguassu is a conservation centre for the hundreds of species of bird that call the Atlantic forest home. Here, you can immerse yourself in the atmosphere and get close to the birds in large purpose built aviaries. Many of these birds are close to extinction, so it is unlikely that you will have the opportunity to see them anywhere else. Get to know the colourful, parrots and toucans as well as rare species such as King Vulture and Southern Screamer. Here you can also enjoy a wonderful butterfly garden with hundreds of species of butterfly as well as hummingbirds and other smaller creatures. Make sure to stop off at the reptile enclosure to see the alligators, snakes, caiman and crocodiles!
Belmond das Cataratas
Belmond das Cataratas is an excellent hotel on the Brazilian side of the Iguassu falls. If Iguassu is a stop on a tour of Brazil, most people only stay for 1 or 2 nights, as this is enough to visit the national park and its surrounding attractions. It is definitely worth considering staying in Belmond das Cataratas, to experience Iguassu in a very special way. The decoration of the hotel is colonial and very grand and its services are high – end. The most impressive feature of this establishment is the fact that it offers access to the falls outside the opening hours of the national park. You can enjoy a sunset whilst taking in the majesty of the falls, a truly special experience.