The name Iguazú comes from the Guaraní words “y” meaning “water”, and “ûasú” meaning “big”. Legend has it that a deity planned to marry a beautiful woman named Naipí, who fled with her mortal lover Tarobá in a canoe. In rage, the god sliced the river, creating the waterfalls and condemning the lovers to an eternal fall.
The first European to record the existence of the falls was the Spanish Conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca in 1541. Iguazú waterfalls became popular worldwide with the 1986 British period drama film The Mission about the experiences of a Jesuit missionary in 18th-century South America. The film, starring Robert De Niro, Jeremy Irons, Aidan Quinn, and Liam Neeson, offers gorgeous vistas of these mythical falls while telling the story of Jesuit priest Father Gabriel who in the 1750s entered the eastern Paraguayan jungle to convert the Guaraní to Christianity.
Located in the north of Argentina, bordering Brazil, this site was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1984. There is a reason – or many reasons! – why the Iguazu Falls in Argentina and Brazil are considered the most spectacular in South America and – possibly in the world.
Iguazu Falls National Park is located in a select area within one of the few remaining inland rainforests in South America; inhabited by some of the most exotic wildlife on the planet: more than two thousand plant species, four hundred bird species, eighty rare species of mammals plus insects and invertebrates of all kinds, such as the giant anteater and the harpy eagle. You can also find other unique, imposing mammals from South America such as the jaguar, the puma and many others.
The park boasts a system of 275 waterfalls that varies in number depending on the season and are approximately 2.7 kilometers wide. The Devil’s Throat, the tallest one, drops by more than 80 meters into a milky abyss that creates a permanent cloud of mist. All offer outstanding water flow, especially in the rainy season from November to March when the flow rate may rise to a maximum of 450,000 cubic feet (12,750 cubic meters) per second.
Compared with Niagara Falls on the border of the United States and Canada, Iguazu Falls is nearly twice as tall and almost three times as wide. “Poor Niagara!” is what Eleanor Roosevelt said when she visited the Iguazu Falls for the first time.
While Niagara Falls are surrounded by buildings, restaurants and even a casino, Iguazu Falls offer a real jungle immersion along its many trails where you can spot colorful toucans, monkeys, and even jaguars.
Victoria Falls are taller than the Iguazu Falls; however, Iguazu Falls are significantly wider. If you travel to South America, Iguazu waterfalls are a must-visit destination. Even if you have seen other impressive waterfalls around the world, this one should not be missed. It is one of the most popular tourist spots in Latin America, and the most visited location in Argentina. They are located in the province of Misiones and the best way to get there is by plane.
Is it better to see Iguazu from Brazil or Argentina? They are very different. The Argentinian Falls are the stage and the Brazilian are the theatre. From the Brazilian side, you will have great views of the falls that are on the Argentine side. And from Argentina, you will walk above the falls, which is also exhilarating! So, my advice would be to visit both sides, if possible. I would dedicate one whole day to visit the falls from the Argentinian side and only half a day to visit them from the Brazilian side.
Visiting the Argentine Iguazu Falls for a day.
You will be visiting Iguazú National Park, which includes three circuits: Paseo Inferior (Lower Circuit) – Paseo Superior (Upper) and Devil’s Throat (Garganta del Diablo in Spanish) which is famed for its breathtaking views.
The visit to the three circuits, the lower, upper circuit and devil’s throat, takes almost all day. If you want to take a boat ride, try to be in the park early, and expect to be there all day for sure!
My two favorite hotels in Iguazu, Argentina
The Awasi Lodge
A Luxury property that offers an all-inclusive experience in Iguazu Falls, Argentina.
Part of the Relais Chateaux collection, Awasi is a fantastic gem in Iguazu (and in the world!)
See the most beautiful falls, relax, enjoy the rainforest, and learn about the Guaraní’s indigenous’ culture. The lodge is located in the thick Atlantic rainforest, only 15 minutes from Puerto Iguazu. Although it is close to the town of Puerto Iguazu, it feels completely remote.
The hotel is an all-inclusive lodge with only 14 private villas and offers gourmet food, premium drinks and unique excursions. As part of your VIP service, you will have a personalized guide and vehicle during your stay. Let them know your interests before your trip, and they will get the perfect local guide for you!
A 5-star hotel with a unique location inside the Iguazu national park. You have access to the walking trails in the most visited falls in South America.
The hotel was completely renovated in 2018 and became a Gran Melia (it was a Sheraton before), and the views you have from the falls are absolutely awesome!
You will have fantastic views of the falls, from your room, from the pool, while you are having breakfast or while you enjoy a drink and see the sunset from the hotel rooftop.
Staying at Gran Melia means you will be inside the park in Argentina. So, you will avoid the crowds (and have the falls all to yourself). This is priceless! You will access the park through a special entrance that is only available for hotel guests which will allow you to visit the park before the crowds arrive. You are only a five-minute walk from the upper and lower circuit walkways!)
Wherever you stay, you will find this to be a magical place. This popular destination, with countless waterfalls, and the most spectacular views, will captivate you in a way you can’t even imagine. Visiting Iguazu Falls is a truly unique experience that will allow you to enjoy more than 275 waterfalls surrounded by a primitive jungle full of wildlife.