Iguazu Falls

23 - 24 July 2012. Filed under category Travel.
Map of Iguazu

Map of Iguazu

When Mother Nature created the Iguazu waterfalls, she abandoned her normal subtle grace in favour of raw awesome power. The result is one of the seven natural wonders and easily one of the places that you must see before you die. (You do keep such a list, right?)

Iguazu isn’t one big waterfall that you go to, look at, take a picture of and then leave. It is a lush subtropical jungle with about 275 discrete waterfalls for you to explore among butterflies and coatis. You can easily spend two days walking through this slice of paradise and boredom will not haunt a single step.

The Brazilian Side

Iguazu sits on the border of Brazil and Argentina. The Brazilian side is a pleasant walk along a tall ridge with stunning panoramic views of the waterfalls on the Argentine side. Since the Brazilian side shows the falls from afar, it is neither as visceral nor as impressive as the Argentine side, but it is still well worth the half day it takes to see.

The Argentine Side

The Argentine side has 80% of the waterfalls and it takes at least a day to explore. It is divided into four circuits, and I’ll list them in ascending order of ‘wow’.

  1. The lower circuit takes you first through dense jungle before leading you up to the middle of a great waterfall. Standing there, with a wall of water only meters away, you feel very small indeed.
  2. The San Martin Island lies in the middle of the Iguazu falls and is only reachable by boat. Some steep walking up the island rewards you with spectacular views of the falls and gets you close to the many vultures nesting in Iguazu.
  3. The upper circuit takes you to the top of a long ridge of waterfalls. The views here are so exquisite that it can be hard to believe that such a perfect vista can exist anywhere but the imagination of a most creative and imaginative artist.
  4. The Devil’s Throat lies at the furthest end of the ridge of waterfalls seen from the upper circuit. It is the biggest single waterfall in Iguazu, and it will hit you in the gut with its raw power. Slack-jawed, I could do nothing but stand at the head of this monster and stare in bewildered wonderment. (The Devil’s Throat can become congested, so go here early in the morning to beat the queue!)

The Boat Ride

For the most direct and intense experience of the falls, take a boat ride right into them. Yes, into the falls! These crazed boats go into and underneath two of the medium sized falls, and every single one of the screaming tourists will get thoroughly soaked.

You can take the boat ride from either the Brazilian or Argentine side. The Brazilian side is more expensive but worth the extra cost as it can be hard to do both the boat ride and see everything on the Argentine side on a single day.

You can also take the boat ride as part of a ‘Great Adventure’ package, which cost more money and wastes your time by padding out the awesome with a whole lot of dull, such as a truck drive through the jungle.

Ignore the Guides

Best bus in the world!

Best bus in the world!

There is no reason why you should pay extra for a guide or book anything in advance. Public transport to and from the falls are frequent, and it is more fun and engaging to explore alone and at your own pace. After all, the raw awesome beauty of Iguazu requires no explanation.

Getting There by Bus

Most people fly to Iguazu, but if you come from a place with a bus connection then take the opportunity to experience the excellent South American busses. It is cheaper and more interesting than flying. The bus ride from Buenos Aires is 16 hours long, but don’t let that scare you. The cushy seats fold down to a comfortable 180-degree horizontal position, bedding for a surprisingly good night’s sleep. On my bus there was also a bus steward encouraging me to take full advantage of the complimentary and bottomless wine and whiskey service.

Travel Updates

I went to Iguazu with my brother and mother, who came to visit me in Buenos Aires. They’ve returned to Sweden now, and I’m frantically trying to catch up with my blogging before I too leave Buenos Aires to go to the US in a few days.


Most people find commenting quite painless. Go on, try it!

Skip to bottom
  1. Pauline says:

    Beautiful pictures! I’ve always wanted to go to Brazil and Argentina just to visit the Iguazu Falls. Heeding your advice of not acquiring guides, I suppose the falls are pretty easy to navigate on your own?? Also, did you stay near the falls? Or were they day trips from your accommodations? Not that I’m going anytime soon, but it’s good to know these things 🙂

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      Iguazu is very easy to do on your own. The Brazilian side is a one-way walk with no turns, and the Argentine side has plenty of signs marking out the four circuits. I’ve included a map at the top of the article.

      As for getting to the falls, there are buses to and from both the Argentine and the Brazilian side, so no need for any guides there either to take you.

      There is a small town on the Argentine side where I stayed with plenty of hotels and hostels, and I imagine the same is true for the Brazilian side, although I haven’t stayed there.

      PS. The waffle looks delicious!

      1. Day says:

        Maybe you should travel for Northeast Brazilian country, Bahia for exemple have great beachs and beatiful places like Chapada Diamantina or river Valley São Francisco. I Agree with you about the coust of the guide and other things, but same places could be worth. Ps. I´m brazilian and one day I want travel for your country. I liked your blog

  2. Jen says:

    Thanks for the post, this looks like FUN! It also looks like it’s LOUD!

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      Yes, I forgot to mention that. There is a pervasive rumble wherever you go, and close to the falls the noise is impressive! The whole experience hits you across all the senses, not least the hearing!

  3. Alden says:

    Great post! One day I’ll make it down there. Love the blog!

  4. Tyler says:


    Great post, definitely on my list.

    I arrive in BA on Saturday, flying in from SFO. Up for a beer with a fellow traveller, hacker, blogger, semi-nomad?

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      Depending on when you arrive, maybe I’ll see you at the airport! My flight for New York leaves 20:15 on Saturday! It would be poetic for two nomads to have meet at an airport. 🙂

  5. Robby says:

    Wow, from the look on your face I have to wonder if the water was COLD? Awesome pics as usual. So are you gonna travel the US or is NY just a stop over to other shores?

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      I’ll be in New York for ten days visiting friends, then I head to friends in Long Beach to prep for Burning Man. After Burning Man, I’ll hang around California for a while before I move on. Not sure where I’ll go after that. Suggestions are welcomed!

      1. Robby says:

        OMG so you will be there this year. Awsome, I hope our paths cross. I will be staying with 10 friends in Kamp KoKopelli. I will contact you off line to show you our camp logo so you can keep an eye out for us.

  6. Jose Luis says:

    Love the blog!…Beautiful pictures

  7. Joel Oswaldo says:

    OMG, what a really beatiful pictures Gustav, definitely, after Teotihuacan´s, this is my favorite post.

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      Thank you Joel! Remember to share it if you like it! 🙂 (Hope the church restoration is going well!)

  8. Craig Brown says:

    Gustav, this is one of my favorite posts ever. It’s not as philosophical as some, but it is an extremely convincing endorsement for a bucket list item. Your pictures are amazing. Your expression is one of the best ever. But mostly, it is the best plain “How to see Iguazu Falls” guide I have ever seen. It leaves no doubt about how to do it. I’m goin!
    How nice to see your Mum.

  9. Crys says:

    got to this one late, LOVE it. How wonderful for me to see you with your mom and brother. Your mom’s smile and joy in sharing the waterfalls with you is beyond perfect. Thank you for this particular set of photos which are not only beautiful, but speak of so much more than just the scenery.

  10. Brother Henrik says:

    Yes Iguazu falls was great to explore particularly with Gustav and Mom and the boat ride was AWSOME.

  11. Brother Henrik says:

    Maby you can tell the reader how you have take 2-6 pictures and put them together in a computer pogram and got these nice panorama picures.

    1. Gustav, the Modern Nomad says:

      That is on my list of things to write about. If anyone is interested, be sure to subscribe to know when I post it!

  12. Anne says:

    Ok.. It’s now on my bucket list 😀
    Just hoping I’ve got the stamina to cover every where I want to see.. That’s considering I’ve got almost 15yrs before I can bring myself to leave Australia, is ok is not like time doesn’t speed past.. Still feel like a teenager & yet that ship has truly set sail.. Aus has many gorgeous landscapes I have yet to explore. Am sure I will enjoy the time while I choose to remain :D..
    Gustav.. It is so true that a picture is worth a thousand words.. Your pic’s are truly awe inspiring..
    Enjoy the adventure that is your life!!

  13. Torsten says:

    I always wanted to see the Iguazu Falls – loved my time there.
    Incidentally they had 50% more water than usual currently. This made for
    a lot of white water 🙂

  14. Jo says:

    Finally a post that makes sense! 🙂 I was hoping you could help…i was planning to fly in from Rio to Iguassu then fly out of Iguazu to BA (to save costs) how easy is it to get from one side to another? Is it worth staying one night on each side? Or should i stay two nights on the one side? Just seen your blog for the first time, looking forward to checking it out. Thanks 🙂

    1. It is super easy to cross the border. Totally up to you if you want to stay on only one side or not. I’m not a travel agent though and I have no idea if the flights line up anymore. But, I did exactly this itinerary 7 years ago.

  15. Jo says:

    Awesome! Good to know, thank you!

Most people find commenting quite painless. Go on, try it!

Click to see allowed HTML.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong> <ol> <ul> <li>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.