Iguazu National Park in a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Argentina and one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. Created in 1934, the park was designed to protect one of Argentina’s greatest natural wonders, which is landlocked by its neighboring countries, both Brazil and Paraguay.
The Iguazu Falls are definitely not the biggest waterfalls in the world by any means, but with trans-border accessibility and complex walkway systems, and many top activities, the attraction has been noted as one of the most accessible waterfalls in the world. Are you ready to explore what Iguazu National Park has to offer those planning a visit?
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Activities in Iguazu National Park
There are many fun and adventurous activities in Iguazu National Park—aside from your entry to the park and unlimited access to the waterfalls and all the nature that the park has to offer, of course! There are some extra points of interest that you may want to see before leaving the park.
If you’ve done any backpacking in South America, you’ll already be familiar with the huge amount of natural wonders to be seen on the continent. Iguazu National Park is home to some of the most spectacular sites, each offering unique perspectives that can only be appreciated on the Argentine side of the border. You can easily organize day tours of the area once you’ve arrived, or plan a three-day tour if you want a guided visit of both the Argentinean and Brazilian sides. Top options include:
- Private Argentinian Iguazú Falls
- Catamaran on Iguazú and Paraná Rivers by Sunset
- Iguazu Falls Argentinian Side Full Day Tour with optional Boat Ride from Puerto Iguazu
- 3-Day Iguazú Falls Experience
OK, let’s look at some of these spectacular attractions in the park that you’ll visit on a day at Iguazu National Park.
Venture to the Devil’s Throat
The Devil’s Throat is a totally unbelievable part of the Iguazu National Park attraction. It’s located in one of the widest parts of the Iguazu River and it makes up part of Iguazu’s cascading system.
To reach the closest point—which can be seen by standing on the edge looking down—you must walk along various footbridges that lead you to the main balcony. As the tallest of all Iguazu’s 275 waterfalls, the Devil’s Throat combines 14 cascades tumbling over 80 meters. This produces gigantic clouds of mist as the water pounds into the bottom of the throat.
The Devil’s Throat is split evenly across the border with Brazil, making it one of the significant things to do from both sides of the park.
Hike Sendero Macuco
Any trip to the park is going to involve a fair bit of walking. However, if you really want to challenge yourself, and are equipped for it, you can hike the popular Sendero Macuco trail. The path leads you along a tranquil walk through the forest. If it’s recently rained you must need to exercise caution, as the clay dirt paths can get slippery.
Along this hike, you’ll encounter a wealth of vegetation and fauna. Plus, the park is home to hundreds of birds and butterflies, and you can expect to see the Capuchin monkeys too, if you’re lucky. As you follow the path, you’ll eventually discover the prettiest waterfall.
Although signs along the way say that swimming is not permitted, it appears to be the norm to take off your gear and go for a dip in the cooling water. There is also a cozy little spot to take a picnic in the same area, so be sure to carry some snacks with you so you can thoroughly enjoy this pretty spot.
Take a Boat Ride
The views of the waterfalls from the walkways are truly amazing, but as many will tell you that it’s nowhere near as exhilarating as taking the boat tour. It’s on a boat ride that you can really get up close and personal with the falls themselves.
The boat goes right into the waterfalls, so as you would expect, you’ll get absolutely soaked. For that reason, it makes sense to bring a spare set of clothes. Also, remember to carry a compact dry bag, or at the very least, a zip-lock bag to store your belongings or anything else you don’t want to get wet.
Being on the Argentine side, you get to see the full panoramic view of the falls, which is one of the unique beauties of the Argentine side of the border. Although not necessary, doing the boat ride will give you the perfect reason to attend the park for an extra day. You can combine the boat ride into a day tour on the Iguazu Falls Day Tour with optional Boat Ride, or opt for the far more atmosphericCatamaran on Iguazú and Paraná Rivers by Sunset.
Iguazu National Park is a photographers dream. If you’re keen to take even better travel photographs before you arrive, sign up for the Travel Photography Academy, then you’ll be ready once you visit the falls. With so much to see and photograph once you’re there, here are a few key tips.
Firstly you should be aware that whilst in the park, your camera equipment will get wet. No matter what camera gear you use, it is important that you carry the right kind of protection. At the very minimum, we recommend using shower caps and a sturdy poncho to protect you, your camera, and any electronics from the sprawling spray of water. If you have really nice gear and a smartphone on your person, splurge for a travel dry bag and a raincoat for your camera.
Shoot at Different Speeds
By using the manual mode on your camera, you can get some really good effects with the water. If you desire images with a feeling of power and force, shoot the waterfalls at a faster speed. For a longer and softer effect, you’ll need to shoot at 1/8 sec or slower. Set the camera’s ISO to its lowest to reduce the amount of light until you achieve your desired effect.
Carry a Tripod
A tripod is a great help, especially if you want your shots to stand from the rest. Simply because most people don’t carry one. You can get some amazing long exposure shots of moving water with a tripod. To get this type of shot you’ll need to use slow shutter speed. The most efficient way to achieve this is by carrying a travel-friendly tripod that will allow you to capture those perfect moving water shots.
Where to Stay Iguazu National Park
While visiting Iguazu National Park, we recommend staying at the Gran Melia Iguazu. Because to really be able to get the most out of your experience in the park, the best place to stay is inside the park itself. That way you can get extra time in the park before and after it closes.
When the park opens, you’ll have a slot where you can wander around the park before the large crowds arrive. With this privileged access, you have the chance to get some of the best photographs that the other park attendees could only dream about.
The Gran Melia Iguazu is a popular hotel with people who want to get that one step closer to the park. You’ll get to see the sunrise and sunset from within the grounds, and the hotel is a short 10-minute walk to the station. Which, from there, you can take the train to the Devil’s Throat attraction.
How to Get to Iguazu National Park
There are many ways to get to the park. Depending on where you are traveling from, you’ll most likely find the most effective way to get to the park by air travel.
There is an airport close to the National Park, so if you’re traveling from Buenos Aires you can expect to arrive at the Puerto Iguazú International Airport within the space of two hours.
Iguazu National Park is accessible by car no matter where you travel from in Argentina. To get to the waterfalls from the park entrance, you have to drive along a long jungle road before you arrive at the ticket office. So remember, when staying outside of the park, you always have to drive or take a taxi, to be able to get to the best activities and things to do.
You can take an overnight bus from Buenos Aires, however, compared to the plane, the bus journey is around 16 hours longer. The buses in Argentina can be quite comfortable so if you prefer to travel by land using public transportation, it’s definitely possible.
Because of the volatility of the Argentine peso you can expect the entrance price to fluctuate. However, for non-residents, the price is usually just under $20. Up until recently, the park has started to accept both Visa and Mastercard as a valid form of payment. There’s also a cash machine inside the park.
It’s worth noting that if you are paying the entrance fee in cash, the park will only accept Argentine pesos. So it’s crucial that you have the funds you need to cover your time in the park. Food and drink, including bottled water, are sold at a premium price, so budget accordingly.
When deciding the best time to visit Iguazu Falls based on the weather conditions, one thing you need to consider is the wet and dry season. Because the falls are not too far from the Equator, the area is classified as tropical. The hottest time of year to visit the falls is during the summer months, which run between December and March, when the humidity is at its highest.
April through to most of June represents dry season: You can expect clear blue skies on an average day. Then the winter months of June, July, and August are when it’s less humid and you’ll experience a much cooler temperature.
March is the best time to visit Iguazu Falls when considering good weather—or some weeks of April, August, and even in September are ideal. In the subtropical location like Misiones, where the park is situated, it’s difficult to avoid rain completely since it can rain at any moment in the day.
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By Daniel James
Daniel James from Layer Culture is a cultural traveler from the United Kingdom. Daniel dedicates most of his time exploring and learning about life in Latin America. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook.