Iguazu Falls are waterfalls of the Iguazu River located on the border of the Brazilian state of Parana and the Argentine province of Misiones. The falls can be reached from the two main towns on either side of the falls: Foz do Iguacu in Paraná, and Puerto Iguazu in Misiones as well as from Ciudad del Este (Paraguay). The falls are shared by the Iguazu National Park (Argentina) and Iguacu National Park (Brazil). These parks were designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1984 and 1987, respectively.
We flew in from Rio to the airport on the Brazilian side and as we were staying in Argentina, we decided to see the Brazilian side of the falls while travelling between the airport and the hotel. This apparently is a very common thing for tourists to do and the transfers are set up so you can do this without hassles. All in all we spent about two hours on the Brazilian side.
To get to the falls, you have to enter the national park and pay the admission fee. You do this at modern park headquarters where there are bathrooms, lockers, souvenir shops, eating facilities and a museum. We then took the car to the start of the walkway. There is free bus transport provided if you need it. We started by exploring a long walkway along the canyon through the rain forest which starts near the up-market Orient-Express run Cataratas Hotel (Tel: 45-2102 7000).
The National Park contains a number of animals and birds that are at risk of extinction such as the jaguar, puma, and cayman but you will not see any of these in this heavily trafficked part of the park. What you do see is a diverse range of flora and some great views of the various parts of the falls. Perhaps the highlight of the walk is the boardwalk to the lower base of the spectacular Devil's Throat waterfall. Here fourteen falls drop over 100 metres with such force that there is always a huge cloud of spray overhead. You will usually see a rainbow.
For a close up view, we walked through the subtropical forest of National Iguaçu Park to the base of Salto Floriano, out on the boardwalk over some rapids, and then took the elevator to the top of the falls. It was all very spectacular and the camera worked overtime. From here it is just a short walk to the Porto Canoas where there is a souvenir store, a service centre, a boat landing station, food court, first aid post and the Porto Canoas restaurant. We sat out on the deck watching the river flow towards the top of the falls and enjoyed a lunch from the food court.
We discovered that the view from the Brazilian side is the most panoramic and because it is confined to a reasonably small area it is by far the easiest to explore. If you want other adventures there are helicopter rides out over the falls from Foz do Iguaçu and from the visitors centre, and you may also take boat rides out to the falls (see the tours entry in this journal). It is also worthy to note that the light is best in the morning for photographs.