One of the top 10 natural wonders of the World, the Iguacu Falls are simply a must-see, never-forgotten experience for anyone going to Brazil and Argentina
I'm not ashamed to say that standing looking down the Devil’s Throat at the climax to my tour of the Iguacu Falls was the most visually stunning experience of my entire life. There, I’ve said it. This is a truly awesome moment and an amazing way to end a thrilling day not just looking at one of the world’s most stunning natural events but actually going under, over and into it from two different countries in one dramatic moment after another. I mean how good is that?
Iguacu, Iguassu or Iguazu, depending on which country you are seeing it from, exists because of the Iguazu River, which flows through the natural border between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. There are, in all, 275 separate waterfalls that make up the entire falls system and believe me, I had a good look at each and every one of them. So it seems, have quite a few movie directors too, as they’ve made the falls the backdrop for a few battling villains in Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, Moonraker and Miami Vice.
I was based on the Brazil side, in the town of Foz do Iguacu, a pretty nondescript place that would probably lead an invisible life if it weren’t for the falls in its back garden. There are plenty of hotels and guesthouses to stay at in the town (you’ll need two nights here) but the only hotel that actually overlooks the falls inside the national park is the Hotel das Cataratas. It’s now an Orient-Express hotel and pretty expensive, and whilst it is next to some of the falls, the view is nowhere near as good as from the Argentinian side, so if you're on a budget, save your money, get a place in town and just get the few kilometres down there first thing in the morning.
The Brazil side is really the preview to the main event. A walkway extends out to near the base of the falls of the Devil’s Throat. As you walk out on the platform, you can see the falls all around you and you’re close, but not close enough... yet. But it is the first taste of the sheer awesome power that these waters produce. I wanted more, though, and jumped on a bus that drove me over the border, only some 20 minutes or so away, and into Puerto Iguazu on the Argentinian side, where the real action was.
Now, this is more like it - a network of walkways that traverse the falls, in many cases walking directly over the edges of some of the smaller ones. It really is a lovely walk, cutting through the lush tropical landscape, with all the fauna and flora and vibrantly coloured birds and butterflies.
A couple of hours in, and I’m on the kilometre-long walkway into the mouth of the Devil's Throat. The roar could be heard way off, but the spectacle of looking down just below my feet, right into a semi-circle of vastness that seemed to suck me right down into it, turned my legs to jelly. I really did have a moment.
But the fun doesn’t end there. After surviving the Devil, I took the option of a cheap speedboat ride right out and under one of the falls. Yes, you get wet, but it’s totally worth it. The boat takes a few more turns downriver and then drops everyone off into the waiting arms of a ranger ready with the truck to take us back and throwing in some useful local knowledge into the bargain.
This is a safe but scintillating excursion through one of nature’s most wonderful landscapes, and the Argentinian park authorities should be applauded for giving us the opportunity to see it in all its natural glory without turning it into some kind of Disney theme park. Trust me when I tell you, the Devil won’t steal your soul but it will give you an adventure you’ll never forget.