Iguassu Falls — One of the Great Natural Wonders of the World

There are many ways to enjoy and soak in this naturally breathtaking wonder of the world. Iguassu Falls can be accessed and seen from not only Brazil, but also Argentina and Paraguay (as seen in the photo below). The Brazilian entrance is in the city of Foz do Iguassu. Adjacent is Argentina’s Iguassu Park, which together with its Brazilian neighbor shares a UNESCO listing as a World Heritage Site. The third border to the falls is that of Paraguay, just a few miles away. Make sure to enter the park from all three border crossings. Each has it’s own breathtaking views and surrounding areas to explore.

We’re going to list our 10 must-dos while you’re at Iguassu Falls.

1. Parque National do Iguassu

The best views of the Iguassu falls, Brazil can be seen from here. The park was created in 1939, and is the 2nd oldest national park in Brazil. Parque National is centered around one of the largest preserved forest areas in all of South America. Start at the Visitor Center and hop onto a double decker bus to begin at the Brazilian walkway of the Iguassu Falls. The buses leave every 15 minutes, so you should have no problem getting on one without wasting time. The walkway starts in front of Hotel das Cataratas and goes to Salto Floriano (Floriano Fall). The whole walkway is less than 1 mile, so enjoy it and take it all in. You’ll find two look out points on this walkway, one at Floriano Falls, and one higher up. If you build up an appetite while you’re here, the part restaurant serves pretty good authentic Brazilian cuisine.

2. Macuco Safari Boat Ride

Warning: You will get wet on this tour – so save it for your last stop, or bring an extra change of clothes, and make sure they are securely tied in a plastic bag. Cameras and video cameras are safe, the tour guide will tell you when to protect them and put them away. The tour begins in wagons towed by jeeps, as you trekk through 1.5 miles of forest to get upstream and hop onto a boat. This is where getting wet happens, the boat will go upstream past the Three Musketeers Fall. Don’t let getting wet stop you from experiencing this journey, it’s one to remember. The entire tour will take about two hours form start to finish, and they run about every 10 minutes.

3. River Rafting Adventure with Macuco Safari 

You can add a second adventure on to your Macuco Safari boat ride. The company can add on a a 30-minute rafting trip which will begin after the boat ride ends. You’ll be transferred directly to the raft at that point.

Another adventurous option is the Iguassu Explorer, a 3.5 hour trip aboard a 40-passenger boat to the Paraguayan border of the Iguassu River. During the trip you will stop at the Moises Bertoni Museum (former home to the scientist). He moved his family here to dedicate his life to researching methods of preservation.

3. Helicopter Tour over the Iguassu Falls

Ok – this might cost you a penny ($40 USD/minimum cost per person), but the rush you get from flying high up over the falls is well worth the spend. This is the one and only way to get a bird’s eye view of the natural wonder. Helisul, a Foz do Iguassu company that has been flying over the falls since 1972 and over Rio since the early 1990s, will take you on this expedition. They have two helipoints in the national park, one at the entrance to Parque Nacional, and another near the Brazil side of the falls. Only 3 at a time can go in one helicopter (4  is the capacity including the pilot), and the minimum cost is $40 USD per person for a 10 minute ride atop the falls. Als0 – note that the chopper will only take off if it’s full (3 passengers), so you may have to wait a bit. If 10 minutes isn’t enough adventure for you, you can take a longer trip lasting around 35 minutes. This will cost $400 total for up to 3 people, and will additionally circle over Itaipu Dam and Foz do Iguassu.

3. Parque das Aves (Bird Park)

Parque das Aves (Bird Park) is a private park dedicated to wildlife preservation, education and research. You’ll find everything from birds, to butterflies, anacondas and alligators. It’s a relatively new park, founded in 1994. There are hundreds of species of wild birds, including macaws, hummingbirds, and toucans. The park is also well-known for its Butterfly House. The park can accommodate special needs – like wheelchairs.

3. Campo de Desafios (The Field of Challenges)

Campo de Desafios (The Field of Challenges) is a local adventure company located in the Iguassu Canyon and dedicated to outdoor travel experiences. They offer everything  canopy walking, rappel, climbing and rafting. The company’s staff can accommodate special needs, such as patrons with wheelchairs.

8. Moonlight Dinner Tour
This is a unique experience, and only offered on full-moon nights. Reserve in advance because as you can imagine this tour is very limited and often books very quickly (phone: 55-45-3523-1814). You will board a double decker bus from the Parque Nacional’s Visitor Center. From there you’ll be taken to Porto Canoas for an evening including full dinner at the La Selva restaurant in Argentia, live music and cocktails.
After diner, you will be guided on a walk to the Naipi site, where you’ll board an elevator that will grant you panoramic views of the falls. The full moon illuminates a silver rainbow over the water and is quite a special scene.
If you have some extra days to spare, and extra cash, from September to December, Brasil das Águas offers a moonlight tour to Devil’s Throat (Garganta do Diablo), dinner at La Selva restaurant, and a 4 night stay at the Rafain Palace Hotel in Foz do Iguassu. You’ll also get some extras included, such as dinner and a show at a local casino in Argentina.
9. Salto Monday in Paraguay
If you’ve gone all the way to the Iguassu Falls, why not visit all three neighboring countries. After all – you may very well never be back again. Cross the border into Paraguay to see another large waterfall. Salto Monday is the name of the largest of three waterfalls, which drops about 130 feet. Just 12 miles away from the Friendship Bridge, Salto Monday is located in Puerto Presidente Franco. Also nearby is another of Paraguay’s major attractions, Ciudad del Este. Check out all of these places, long considered to locals as places of great adventure and relaxation.
10. Bella Vista Sanctuary
Itaipu Binacional is the world’s largest hydroelectric plant power plant and manages eight biological reserves and sanctuaries in Brazil and Paraguay. Refúgio Biológico ‘Bela Vista’, is one of two sanctuaries they have in Brazil. Wildlife is abundant, and you’ll see jaguars, anteaters, capibaras, alligators and many other creatures. The sanctuary has reproduced captive conditions that very closely resemble the animal’s natural habitats.  Much different from a zoo, these animals are safe and comfortable in habitats like their own.
Take note that the sanctuary isn’t like the Nacional Parque, you can’t just walk in. You must reserve and schedule your visit in advance (phone: 45-3520-5642). You have two options for tour hours, 8am and 2pm. The tour includes a walk-through the Itaipu Hydroelectric plant. If you can, visit the plant on a Friday or Saturday night, because the lights will be on and the view becomes quite spectacular.