I had allowed two full days for the falls, one for the Brazilian side, and one for the Argentinian. You could do it in a day and a half, if you were well organized, or take three or four if you wanted to try the assorted “adventures” on offer. Two days worked well for me.
My first morning I was back at the bus station, a five minute walk from my hotel, in good time for the first direct bus to the Brazilian falls, 60 pesos round trip. We all got off the bus at Argentinian immigration, and were duly stamped out, while the bus waited for us. But at Brazilian immigration, the driver paused briefly, made a note on a form, and then just drove on! Coming back he didn’t even pause at Brazilian immigration, so this may be an option for visa-less US citizens.
Occasionally, a world famous sight looks better in the photos than in reality (case in point, Rio, to my eyes), but more often you realize that the photos just couldn’t convey the full beauty or grandeur of the place, and it was truly worthwhile to visit in person (the Taj and the Himalayas, for instance). It didn’t take long for me to conclude that Iguazu was firmly in the second category. I haven’t seen Victoria falls, but I have seen Niagara and Iguaza has Niagara well outclassed.
From the Brazilian side you look across the river to a whole array of beautiful waterfalls. You follow the path from one lookout to the next, finally arriving at the piece de resistance, the walkway out to Devil’s Throat, a truly massive fall. As I was there in the spring, the weight of water coming over was immense, and I think actually increased during my visit. I shared the walk with quite a lot of other visitors, but then chose to walk back in the other direction, after eating an indifferent cafe lunch, and found the path almost deserted.
Despite a gloomy weather forecast, I had had brilliant sunshine while I was at the falls (all of the path aside from the walk over the water to Devil’s Throat had been shaded by trees) but a major storm arrived with dusk. I didn’t mind the branches banging against my window, or the loud drumming of the rain on the roof, but I did mind the power going off. The hotel’s emergency generator powered a few feeble emergency lights in the public spaces, but not in the rooms, and certainly not any AC. Fortunately I had my iPad to see by, and when the power made a brief comeback I was able to retrieve my flashlight from my locked case.
The front desk said that it was common for the power to go out – “we are in the middle of a jungle” – so visitors might want to check on the generator situation at prospective hotels. I ate my first course by candlelight, but was glad to finish dinner with the help of electricity.
The view from Brazil is good, but the falls are actually on the Argentinian side, and the view from there is fantastic. Unfortunately the paths are metal mesh, which can be treacherous when wet, but otherwise I have no complaints. You can walk above the falls, and watch the water sliding towards oblivion. You can walk below, as the water comes down full force on to the rocks. And finally, you can walk out over the river to the heart of Devil’s Throat, and stand with thunder in your ears, with a rainstorm of spray hiding still more falls, while a whole world of water fights its way down.
Really, I should quit trying to describe it, and just let you look at the pictures, with the warning that the pictures are far from doing the place justice. But one note: If you go, I really recommend going on your own, or using a tour just for transport. It’s impossible to get lost, as there’s nowhere to walk except on the paths, and if you go with a group you’ll be competing with a bunch of other tag-wearing camera-fiends for space at the view points, and trying to keep up with an umbrella-toting guide. I timed it perfectly my second day, and walked both the Upper and Lower Circuits with just one couple occasionally in sight. It was magical. Even the viewpoint at Devil’s Throat wasn’t too crowded when I got there, as most other people were probably eating lunch. If you want to go on an “adventure” involving rafts and 4x4s, you can sign up when you get to the park. But do put the falls on your must, or at least should, see list.