By Anna Fitzpatrick, Contributing Reporter
PARANA, BRAZIL – The thunderous sounds of thousands of liters of water, roaring furiously over the jagged rock edges, fringed as far as the eye can see with a rainforest jungle means you have arrived at Iguaçu Falls. “Big Water” in Tupi or Guarani (the native Indian languages of the area), the Iguaçu Falls lie on the border between Paraná state in Brazil and Argentina, and is more incredible the closer you get.
A spectacular place to spend a few days vacation, or as a stop-over during longer travels, the falls are well worth the visit. Deciding how to spend your time while there though, can be overwhelming without a few helpful hints.
For travelers with limited time or budget, the possibility of visiting both sides of the falls maybe slim. Often the advice is to visit the Brazilian side first to take in the impressive panoramic views of the 275 individual waterfalls, and then explore each section more thoroughly on the Argentinian side.
The trail on the Brazilian side is relatively short – it takes only an hour to complete the hike at a steady pace, though you may wish you linger and take pictures of the wildlife. If you are dreaming of taking a helicopter tour over the falls, look for this on the Brazilian side as well, as they are not available on the Argentinian side.
On both sides of the park it is possible to experience a trip ‘into’ the falls via boat, but be warned: you will get very wet. Tours on both sides are operated by private companies with various packages available. The tours that include only a boat trip tend to be best value and most fun.
On the Argentinian side there are the Superior and Inferior (upper and lower) trails which weave through the various waterfalls, offering the chance to cool off in the spray of the smaller waterfalls. The total distance of the trails is just over 2km, with most of it along a wooden walkway where if you are lucky you will see coatis, monkeys, humming birds and igauanas.
The pinnacle of the falls is the Garganta do Diabo (Devil’s Throat) which is the biggest waterfall within the falls and is impressive to look at and listen to from both sides. As the trails in either park climax here, whichever side you chose you will not be disappointed.
For a more modest budget there are plenty of choices, especially in Argentina. One such place is the Sorgente Pousada, a couple of blocks down from the bus station, has helpful and informed staff who advise on bus timetables and tours available in the park.
Prices: Park entrance is approximately R$30 for the Brazilian side and $80 (Argentine Pesos) on the Argentinian side. It is possible to get a public bus to the entrance on both sides with costs no more then R$5 or $5 pesos.