Compared to the Argentinian side you would be forgiven for thinking that a quick hop over the border to the Iguazú Falls Brazil wouldn’t be needed; but you would be wrong!
True, there isn’t nearly as much to see on this side of the river than it’s Spanish speaking cousin but the little section that occupies Brazil has one or two things that you can’t get in Argentina.
Iguazú Falls Brazil: Border Crossing and Visa Entry
Crossing the border is very easy. If you are on a tour the tour leader will take your passports and get them all stmaped for you. You can sit on the bus, you don’t need to be present. The same is true for every taxi I have taken across the border, the driver has left me in the car while they sorted the passprts for me.
Depending on your resident country, an expensive visa may be required as is currently the case for US Citizens which, due to the cost, prevents a great many of them from venturing over this side of the river. Holding a British passport, I can currently travel freely between the countries without cost. Before your visit please check your entry requirements on your government website. 90%-95% of the US vacationers I met while there said the cost of their visa (over US$100 in 2016) prevented them from visiting.
Iguazú Falls Brazil: Other Attractions
The panoramic view of the Devil’s Throat from the dramatic walkway teetering on the edge of the falls is a highlight of anyone’s day for sure but you also have the Macuco Trail (very similar to what is offered on the Argentinian side). If you fancy a little exercise head for the Poço Preto Trail for a 9km eco-adventure that you can do on foot, on a bike or in a wagon.
A hidden gem of this section though, particularly if you have children, is the Bird Park; Parque Das Aves. One of the first stops on the bus transport that ferries visitors from the Visitor Centre to the main area near the falls, Porto Canoas. The Bird Park was founded in 1994 and has grown to include over 1300 birds from 143 species set out in walk through aviaries in 16.5 hectares of Atlantic Rainforest (it’s the largest bird park in Latin America).
Iguazú Falls Brazil: Helicopter Tour
Between the border and park entrance you may have noticed a helipad on your left. Operated by Helisul this is where you can, for a price, get a 10 minute flyover the falls for a truly unforgettable experience. While the view will vary (best seat is in the front) the experience will last with you. It is expensive but you have to ask yourself when are you going to get another opportunity like this? If you have never been in a helicopter then its going to be tough to top what you will see here.
Iguazú Falls Brazil: Foz Do Iguaçu Park
Boarding the double decker open sided bus (with flaps for when the rain inevitably decides to make an appearance) at the sprawling Visitors Centre, you are a 15 minute drive from the falls. If you are not on a tour you will have the time to stop off at the Parque Das Aves or explore the Poço Preto Trail but most of the visitors are here for one thing only; the Devil’s Throat.
The one way trail leads from the (very plush, very expensive) Hotel das Cataratas along the river’s edge gradually revealing the waterfalls on the far side of the river 1km away in Argentina. The platform by the bus stop is filled with constant “oooh’s” and “aaah’s” as people see what must be one of the best panoramic vistas on this planet for the first time.
The first time I stood here, I couldn’t move for 5 minutes. I just wanted to live in the moment. I didn’t get my camera out, I didn’t check in on Facebook. I just stood, motionless, staring at the raw power on display in front of me. It was one of the few times in my life I have been left speechless.
The trail that leads to the falls isn’t all that well signposted but it’s easy to find (left hand side of the platform as you’re looking at the falls); just look for the slow moving line of people and follow their lead. The views are all off to your right hand side to begin with as you walk parallel to San Martin Island which also has its own impressive collection of falls cascading down its sheer sides. Wait around for 10 minutes and you will see a boatload of people getting a soaking on the Nautical Tour that runs from both sides.
You can hear hundreds of macaws chirping away in the trees and millions of insects going about their daily lives. The sound of falling water is all around you, gradually getting louder and louder until you reach a junction in the trail.
Iguazú Falls Brazil: Devil’s Throat Lookout
Turn right and head out over the river for a 90 degree view of the falls in all their glory but be prepared to get a little wet. Sometimes soaked depending on wind direction and the ferocity of the falling water from the left edge of the Devil’s Throat that is thundering over the 80 meter high lava outcrop at an alarmingly fast rate at this distance. Depending when you visit, the amount of water cascading down could fill up to five olympic size swimming pools every second.
Looking right, there is another 100+ foot drop off under the ledge as the water drains into the Lower Iguazú River. The spray is so dense over the main bowl that you will be able to make out the clearest rainbow you will ever see on sunny days. It’s exhilarating being in the presence, and being so close, to Mother Nature at her most powerful. These are, after all, the largest waterfalls on the planet by annual volume.
Making your way up 2 levels towards the exit and a very well stocked souvenir shop for its size you are given one last glimpse of the falls, this time so close you almost feel you can touch it. You can certainly feel the force of the water on the surrounding air when you stand at the railing on the top level.
Sitting on the bus back to the Visitors Centre, my head was awash with all the stunning images I had just witnessed. So many places fail to live up to their expectation in your mind but Iguazú Falls not only lives up them but blows pretty much every image you had in your mind into the stratosphere. The colours are more vibrant, the entire ecosystem is humming.
Life is all around you from the squawking macaws, toucans and harpy eagles in the sky, caiman in the river to the ever elusive jaguar and the abundant coati that roam the tourist trails without fear. Iguazú Falls is life and if you only visit one side, you’re missing half the story.