When First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt famously remarked ‘Poor Niagara!’ upon first sight of Iguazú Falls in March of 1944, one can hardly blame her initial surprise.
Located on the opposite side of Iguazú River in the Northeastern corner of Argentina, Iguazú National Park, along with its Brazilian sister park Iguaçu National Park, share one of the world’s greatest natural marvels: Cataratas del Iguazú or Iguazú Falls (Brazilian: Cataratas do Iguaçu or Iguaçu Falls). First established in 1934, Iguazú National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. The water that flows from Iguazú Falls (whose name is derived from the Guaraní word for ‘big water’) feeds into the river of the same name, which also serves as the dividing border between Argentina and Brazil. Together, both parks comprise one of the largest waterfalls in the world (275 cascades), not to mention thousands of flora and fauna species endemic to the region.
Despite comprising a relatively smaller area (67,000 hectares compared to Iguaçu’s 173,000 hectares), Iguazú National Park has a greater network of trails and walkways than its sister park, which means visitors will need at least 7-8 hours (or, even two days depending on what you’d like to do) to properly explore this side of the Falls (compared to only half a day for the Brazilian side). This is great news for wanderlust enthusiasts who will no doubt enjoy exploring the park’s numerous senderos (trails) and several kilometers worth of pathways.
Some of the best trails include Circuito Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat Circuit), which offers amazing top-down views of the Devil’s Throat from an observation post high above the waterfalls; Circuito Superior (Upper Circuit) is a long network of catwalks, bridges and trails spread throughout much of the park and offers great views of the waterfalls from above; the Circuito Inferior (Lower Circuit), on the other hand, is a network of trails that runs closer to the river and cascades, which offers spectacular views of Salto Los Hermanos and more; and the often overlooked but completely worthwhile trail Sendero de Isla San Martin (Trail of San Martín Island), which requires that you take a short boat ride from the Lower Circuit to the island and once there the views of Salto San Martín, Salto Escondido and Salto Rivadavia are without comparison.
The distinct views offered from each side are the reason why a stop at either park is essential in order to truly gauge the scope and breadth of the waterfalls. Although, after visiting both sides I can tell you that if you’re short on time and only have one day then I would suggest visiting the Argentine side, since there’s so much to see and do. But, if you have some extra time, then I would highly recommend at least a daytrip to the Brazilian side.
Either way you can’t go wrong because the Falls are amazing no matter which side you pick. Enjoy the photos below and see why Iguazú Falls consistently makes every traveler’s bucket list as one the world’s greatest natural wonders!