Iguazu Falls: Getting The Best Views From Both Sides

A question most people have when visiting Iguazu Falls is, which side should I see?

I had that same question when I visited it, and since I had the opportunity, I decided to visit both sides – the Brazilian and the Argentinean. While the falls are divided about 20% on the Brazilian side and 80% on the Argentinean, once I saw each side I realized that both countries have something unique to offer.

Seeing the Brazilian Side

Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Argentina

Since I first arrived in the town of Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil, I decided to visit this side first. From the town’s Terminal de Transporte Urbano (bus station), I took the public bus that goes all the way to the Iguazu National Park.

It takes about 40 minutes to reach the park’s entrance, where I bought the ticket and hopped on a panoramic bus that took me to the main mirador walkway of the falls.

Along the way, the bus did a few stops for people interested in hiking in nature along the Iguaçu River. Since I only had the afternoon and weather was dubious, I decided to skip the hike and headed straight to the falls.

Once I hopped off, I was just a few steps away from witnessing the immense power of Iguazu. It is said that upon seeing Iguazu, the United States First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt exclaimed “Poor Niagara!” While I’m yet to see Niagara Falls in person, I can say Iguazu is as impressive and powerful as you can imagine.

Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Argentina

The name “Iguazu” comes from the Guarani or Tupi words y, meaning “water”, and ûasú, meaning “big”. According to legend, a deity planned to marry a beautiful woman named Naipí, who fled with her mortal lover Tarobá in a canoe. In a rage, the deity sliced the river, creating the waterfalls and condemning the lovers to an eternal fall.

Whether by a deity or not, there’s no denying that some great forces created this awe-inspiring natural wonder.

Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Argentina

I followed the walkway along the canyon, stopping at every viewpoint to admire every single fall on the other side of the river. After about an hour or so walking and sightseeing, I reached the culminating point of the walkway – the extension to the lower base of Devil’s Throat (Garganta del Diablo in Spanish or Garganta do Diabo in Portuguese).

The Devil's Throat at Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Argentina

The Devil’s Throat is the main attraction on both sides of the falls since approximately half of the river’s flow falls into this long and narrow chasm. Its quite distinctive U-shape is 82 meters high (269 feet), 150 meters wide (492 feet), and 700 meters long (2,297 feet).

I stepped on the aluminum walkway and went deep into the fast flowing veil of mist created by the powerful cascade, which at this point was mere meters away from me.

On one side of the walkway, I had a curtain of water flowing from above; on the other, I could see water flowing even deeper on a vertigo-inducing fall that seemed to have no end. It was on that walkway that I realized that I was somewhere in the middle of a stepping waterfall.

From the end of the walkway, I enjoyed the fresh mist and the gorgeous views of the Devil’s Throat – in addition to getting soaking wet.

Iguazu Falls in Brazil

The Devil's Throat at Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Argentina

To culminate the walkthrough, I took the elevator to the top of the viewing tower, from where I could see at about eye level the flowing Iguaçu River before taking the thunderous plunge.

Iguazu Falls in Brazil

Seeing the Argentinean Side

The next day I woke up early to spend the entire day on the Argentinean side of the falls. Crossing borders between Brazil and Argentina was easy, and the process took only about two hours – from hopping on the bus in Brazil, passing immigration, and reaching the bus station in Argentina.

Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Argentina

Since I was staying in Argentina, I quickly checked-in in my hostel and went back to the bus station to take the next bus to the Argentinean side of the national park. Once at the entrance, I bought my ticket (yes, another one), and took the Jungle Train all the way to “Estación Garganta.”

This was the last stop of the train and the entry point to have an up-close look of the Devil’s Throat from the Argentinean side.

From the train stop, it was a 1.2km (.75 mile) walk on catwalks until I reached the Devil’s Throat. For the largest portion of this walk, the river flowed smoothly under my feet. That’s how wide this part of the river is!

The Devil's Throat at Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Argentina

Once at the Devil’s Throat, I simply stood there for about half hour admiring the water rush down the 80 meters drop (262 feet) into a chasm that seemed to have no end due to the blur created by the dense mist.

The Devil's Throat at Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Argentina

Compared to the Brazilian side, here I was standing right at the mouth of the most powerful fall in Iguazu. To me, it was incomprehensible how much water could flow through that space in such a short amount of time.

The thunderous sounds, the mist, the visual of water breaking into millions of drops and splashing in disparate ways. Yesterday I saw the Devil’s Throat. Today I was feeling it.

I loved spending time at the Devil’s Throat, but there was much more to see ahead, so I took the train again to reach “Estación Cataratas” to see the rest of smaller falls. The Argentinean side has about 80% of the falls, and many of them can be seen from up close through a series of walkways known as the Upper Circuit and Lower Circuit.

Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Argentina

As their names imply, the Upper Circuit gives a view of the falls from above while the Lower Circuit goes closer to the dynamic curtain of water. The former is 650 meters long (2,132 feet) while the latter is 1,400 meters long (4,593 feet), so combined, they take a few hours to walk through.

I started with the Upper Circuit, passing above falls like Salto Bossetti, Salto Adán y Eva, Salto Mbiguá, Salto Chico, and others. At every viewpoint, I stopped to look down over the edge of the falls. There were moments when a rainbow adorned the mist flowing up from the fall.

Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Argentina

Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Argentina

The Lower Circuit took me close to the lower part of some of the falls I saw from above, like Salto Dos Hermanas, and Salto Chico, among others. But, beyond seeing falls, this walk was a nice immersion into nature since there were moments in which I was surrounded by dense trees and some fauna.

The Devil's Throat at Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Argentina

From the Lower Circuit, I took the famous speedboat that takes you close to the base of some of the falls to get soaked!

It was a quick 12 minutes ride, and while I enjoyed it, I can’t say it is truly necessary to do it. It was fun, though!

Iguazu Falls in Brazil and Argentina

Comparing Both Sides

I enjoyed seeing both sides and believe they both offer unique views and experience. The Brazilian side gives you the panoramic view and lets you see how immense are these falls. The Argentinean side, on the other hand, gives you a closer look at the falls and the opportunity to feel some of them.

I’m glad I saw the Brazilian side first since I got the overall picture of what I was seeing and got a taste of feeling some of the power of the Devil’s Throat.

Then, on the Argentinean side, I experienced the falls up-close and almost individually, and witnessed the “grand finale” of being right at the mouth of the Devil’s Throat. In Argentina, there were points in which 260 degrees of waterfalls surrounded me.

Both parks offer lots of information along the way, so there’s no need to hire a guide.

Iguazu Falls in Argentina

Essential Information

Parque Nacional do Iguaçu (Brazil) – Official Site

Entrance: 52.30 Reais ($20)

Take public bus L120 (costs 2.80 Reais each way/$1) to reach the National Park from Foz do Iguaçu.

Minimum time to spend there: 3-4 hours (if you don’t hike)

Parque Nacional Iguazú (Argentina) – Official Site

Entrance: 260 Argentinean Pesos ($24)

Take a bus with a local bus company (costs 100 pesos roundtrip/$10) to reach the National Park from Puerto Iguazú.

Minimum time to spend there: 5-7 hours

Boat Tour operator in Argentina is Iguazú Jungle, and it costs 270 Argentinean Pesos ($25).

Important note: The park entrance on the Argentinian side of the falls only accepts cash payments in Argentinian pesos. They do not accept credit cards or debit cards, nor do they accept Brazilian Reais (or U.S. dollars or any other currency). Make sure to exchange your money before taking the bus to the park.

Locals and Mercosur residents pay a lower entrance price at both sides of the park.

Visas

Be aware of the possibility of needing a visa to enter either Brazil or Argentina. Check this site to see if you need a visa to enter Argentina and this one for Brazil.

Buses to Cross the Border

There are hourly scheduled buses crossing the border between Brazil and Argentina. Depending on which company you take, you will take the bus at the bus station and be dropped at the border and pass through immigration. Then, you’ll take another bus with the same ticket on the other side of the border to reach the other country’s bus station. Other companies drop you, wait for you at immigration, and take you to the bus station with a single bus.

I took the cheapest bus from the Terminal de Transporte Urbano in Foz do Iguaçu and paid only 4 Reais ($1.50) for the ride to the border, and it included the ride on the Argentinean side with the other bus.

Alternatively, there are two-day tours that take you to both sides of the falls. This way, you don’t have to plan anything or worry about transportation across the border.

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16 thoughts on “Iguazu Falls: Getting The Best Views From Both Sides”

  1. Fab! I am doing this in a couple of weeks and that is a great overview of what I can expect. I’ll be staying on the Brasilian side so it’s good that I can do that first.

    1. That’s great, Shobha! Yes, I think seeing the Brazilian side first makes for a great introduction to the Argentinean side. Hope you enjoy it!

  2. Loved your post! Cool Photos!!
    This is first time I am visiting your website and I find this post very very resourceful..
    Keep up the good work…I will love to visit your site from time to time…..

  3. Thanks for the tips! We are going to Iguazu Falls tomorrow and we’ll have 2 full days to explore Brazilian and Argentinian sides. We were wondering if a tour would be easier but with your tips we think we can manage by ourselves.
    We are doing a roadtrip by car through South America so any tip/comment is welcome! Thanks a lot 🙂

  4. yurdal mohammad

    hi Norbert,
    we are going in march after the Rio carnival. your advice has been so amazing thankyou. It really hasnt been that straight forward finding out all of this information.
    we are actually flying in to the brazilina side fom rio and flying back from brazilian side back to the uk.
    As we will stay two nights ans want to visit both sides,do you think its easy for us to visit both sides and stay on the brazilian side (due to flights and not having to change hotel twice)?

    thankyou

    1. Hi Yurdal –

      Yes, you can do both sides and still stay on the Brazilian side. Of course, it’ll be a longer day since you have to take into account the time it will take you to cross the border, get into town and catch the bus from there (and same thing backwards). I’m not sure what passport you have, but when you cross the border, make sure to have your visa (if required). I believe you might be able to book a day tour for the Argentinean side from Brazil, including the transfer – that way you don’t have to waste time waiting for a bus to go to the park.

      Worst case, I’d recommend waking up pretty early and take one of the first buses leaving Foz do Iguacu (Brazil) to Argentina. (I think it was around 6 am or so). See if you can find the bus schedule online – both to and from Argentina, and from Puerto Iguazu (Argentina) to the waterfalls and back.

      Cheers!
      Norbert

      1. What a great piece, in description and photos. We will visit the Falls in a few months and had exactly the same question about which side of the falls to visit. (especially as we are in the process of completing the onerous Brazilian Visa application and wondered if its worth it). Your piece convinced us it is worth it. We’ll follow your path and let you know ours. Thank you for this effort.

  5. Hi Norbert,
    I am fond of water falls and seeing such a picturesque beauty make me realise the time I spend in my country especially near Mumbai.
    Yes, I love to bathe in such cool water.

    I am tempted to do again this summer, not after looking at such lovely images.

  6. Anita Bohemen

    We are about planning a trip in November to Brazil.
    I would like to see Rio and the iguaz falls.
    Can u please advise me the best way to go about doing so?

    1. If you’re short on time, I highly recommend flying from Rio to Foz do Iguaçu (city in Brazil). While you can take the bus from one place to the other, it takes over 24 hours. The flight can be relatively cheap if you buy it ahead of time. Once in Foz, you can buy the state park ticket right at the entrance. I recommend staying overnight in Foz to enjoy the park a full day, and even cross to the Argentinean side if you can.

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