Discovered in 1542 by Spanish explorer Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca the Iguazu Falls are one of the seven wonders of the natural world and rightly so. These majestic waterfalls are a site to be seen. Fortunately this can be accomplished from a myriad of angles. There are paths leading through the forest alongside the falls, boat trips that take visitors as close as safely possible to their base, elevated walkways that lead over the river to the very mouth of the falls, and even helicopter tours allowing visitors to admire them from fair above. There are several ways to visit the falls and which is most convenient depends largely on your budget, timeframe and visa status.
The falls are located smack on the border between Argentina and Brazil. While the Brazilian side is quite popular, the Argentine side is cheaper and offers more value for your money – the grounds are more extensive and there is a wider range of activities available. It is possible to visit both sides in one day, although logistically this usually requires private transportation.
Together, the Argentine and Brazilian parks total over 252,000 hectares of protected semi-deciduous Atlantic Forest that are a safe haven for over 450 species of birds, eighty species of mammals and 2000 plant species as well as innumerable reptiles, amphibians and insects. Despite the influx of visitors, you will still be able to see a variety of animals by the waterfalls (especially towards the beginning and end of the day) – butterflies abound, toucans and other birds are in the trees. You may even spot caimans sunning themselves on the rocks by the water. By far the most visible are the coati which roam freely, instantly recognizable by their long pointy snouts and striped tails. Though they are cute, resist the urge to get too close – they have become accustomed to receiving food from park visitors (though this is strictly forbidden) and will put to use their surprisingly sharp claws if tempted with food.
Sidebar: Make sure to change money into local currency before entering the park as neither side accepts Paraguayan money (though they do take dollars and euros).