How the mighty falls

Iguazu Falls is one of the natural highlights of South America. You can see them from either the Brazilian or the Argentinian side. So which is best?

Written by Michael Turtle

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle. A journalist for more than 20 years, he's been travelling the world since 2011.

Michael Turtle is the founder of Time Travel Turtle and has been travelling full time for a decade.


Best place to see Iguazu Falls

You hear Iguazu Falls before you see them. The sound of constant crashing sneaks up on you, slowly increasing in volume until you abruptly realise it’s drowning out the sounds of birds and insects around you.

The source must be close, you think.

Just a few more turns along the path between the trees and then the cascading curtains reveal themselves. Footsteps falter, exclamations are uttered, and eyes meet with the same look of awe.

The waterfalls at Iguazu are before you and they truly are one of the most spectacular natural wonders on this planet.

Best place to see Iguazu Falls, Argentina or Brazil
Best place to see Iguazu Falls, Argentina or Brazil

In fact, a few months ago the Iguazu Falls were named as one of the 7 New Wonders of Nature in a global competition. There has been some controversy about the process, as Michael Hodson detailed so well in this blog post.

But regardless, there’s no denying that they deserve a place on any list of amazing destinations.

The statistics speak for themselves. At the top of the falls, the water flows through a chasm called Devil’s Throat, which is 82 metres high, 150 metres wide and 700 metres long.

Along the entire length of the site, there are about 275 waterfalls of various sizes. And the highest ever recorded flow of water was more than 12,000 cubic metres a second (if that figures doesn’t mean much to you just know that it’s much more than the highest flow ever recorded at Niagra Falls or Victoria Falls).

Best place to see Iguazu Falls, Argentina or Brazil
Best place to see Iguazu Falls, Argentina or Brazil

Is Brazil or Argentina better for Iguazu?

The facts and figures are one thing – seeing Iguazu for yourself is another. There’s no room for numbers when you have the immense power and beauty of nature so close.

One of the constant conversations I’ve had, though, is which country is the best one from which to see Iguazu.

The river system forms the boundaries of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. Poor Paraguay doesn’t really have a view at all but the other two nations have established amazing viewing opportunities and if you only have one day to spend there you pretty much have to choose a side.

Most people I’ve spoken with say Argentina is the best choice. I, however, disagree. This may be as controversial as the 7 Wonders competition (although probably not) but I’m going to recommend Brazil.

Best place to see Iguazu Falls, Argentina or Brazil

The Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls is nothing short of breathtaking, don’t get me wrong. About 80 per cent of the waterfalls are on the Argentinian side and the paths for visitors take you up close to the action.

In fact, you can even take a boat underneath some of the waterfalls which is about as close as you could get (and as wet as you could get too, I can attest!).

Standing metres from the cascades lets you experience the power of the water – you can feel the energy coming from it. And nowhere is this more the case than at the very top of Devil’s Throat where a wall of water, larger than you could have imagined, seems to come alive as the torrents plummet down from the river above.

Best place to see Iguazu Falls, Argentina or Brazil
Best place to see Iguazu Falls, Argentina or Brazil

From the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls, though, you get the overview of the whole waterfall complex and, for me, this is where the true awe lies.

It’s when you realise the scale of not just the individual cascades but the entire system that you appreciate this experience.

The white animation of the water contrasting with the brown cliffs, the striking clouds on the blue sky mimicking the colour of the water, and the green of the jungle bringing it altogether… it’s a photographer’s dream.

I couldn’t stop my camera, it was like it had a life of its own, and from every new vantage point there seemed to appear new angles that needed to be captured.

Best place to see Iguazu Falls, Argentina or Brazil

There is no right way to see Iguazu and there is no wrong way to see Iguazu. There is wonder, awe and amazement from every perspective.

The most important thing, in my humble opinion, is to make some time in your life to go there and appreciate what nature can do.


You’ll find staying closer to the centre of Puerto Iguazú more convenient because that’s where most of the tourist infrastructure is.


Fun and lively, The Host Puerto Iguazú has comfortable dorm rooms and an outdoor pool.


Although it also has dorms, Eco Hostel Iguazú has great private rooms and a friendly communal atmosphere.


For a bit more space, 273 Avenida Victoria Aguirre has a nice view and a good location.


Along with mountain views, the Panoramic Grand has a lush garden, pool, and free breakfast.


This site is on the UNESCO World Heritage List!
I'm on a mission to visit as many World Heritage Sites as I can. Only about 800 more to go... eek!

42 thoughts on “How the mighty falls”

  1. I saw Iguazu Falls from the Argentina side, and I can say without a doubt that it was one of the most incredible travel experiences I’ve had. I loved the walk through the jungle, and hearing the falls and feeling the mist before I actually saw them. Taking a boat right up to (and underneath) the falls was exhilarating as well. I didn’t go to the Brazil side, but I don’t think it could beat the Argentina side. Seeing both sides would make the experience that much better though, for sure.

    • Yeah, feeling the mist and being so close to the water is definitely one of the best things about the Argentinian side. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to go to the Brazil side another time (any excuse to go back!!).

  2. I’ve been to Iguazu a couple of years ago and it was stunning. I stared at them from both the Brazilian and the Argentinian sides, from the top, from the bottom, from “underneath” when we had the boat safari that brought us almost under the fall, and they are awe-inspiring wherever is your location!

  3. Such a wonder of nature! I think the Brasilian side must be best too, because you can enjoy the whole falls panorama, instead of being up-close. Who says you can’t do both, though? 😉

  4. I’m thinking of taking a side trip to the falls while I’m in Rio. How did you get there? How long did you say? What I guess I’m asking is, do you think it could be a long day trip or will it need to be an overnight trip? I would be flying, of course.


    • If you were just going to do the Brazil side you could do it as a day trip – but you’d need to leave early and be prepared to head back late. You definitely couldn’t do both sides on the same day and fly there and back. You could stay overnight and do both, though. I’d say you need about 3 or 4 hours on the Brazil side (including the bus there and back from the ticket office) and about 5 or 6 hours on the Argentina side.

    • There was a lot of water (unfortunately coming from the sky as well). I can’t imagine it with low water levels. I’m sure it’s still spectacular but it wouldn’t have quite the power.

  5. Nice post about the waterfalls at Iguazu. It’s definitely on our list. I appreciate your insights on which country to view the falls. I would rather have some distance to get a full appreciation of the waterfall system instead of being underneath it.

    • You’ll love the falls! I went into Paraguay from there but getting into Argentina is really easy as well. You could pop into Paraguay for a couple of days and then go into Argentina, if you were interested.

    • I would recommend a full day on the Argentinian side and half a day on the Brazilian side. That lets you cover it all pretty well. You could, of course, spend a bit longer on either side, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Hope that helps – let me know how you go!

  6. Great post and stunning pics! So, someone can easily stay somewhere closet to Iguazu in Argentina, take a day trip to the waterfalls, come back, and next day go to the Brazilian side? Which outfitter did you use and how did you pick it?


    • Hi Stan. yeah, it’s very easy just to stay in one country and make the trip into the other one. I think staying on the Argentinian side is the best – I stayed at a place called Hostel Inn which was a nice budget place. There are lots of options, though. You can just use public transport to go to the Argentinian falls from there. To get to the Brazilian one, you can also use public transport. But if you ask your hotel you’ll also find there are heaps of bus companies that will take you directly to the Brazilian side and do the passport control for you. You don’t really need a tour guide once you get to the national park on either side. Good luck and enjoy!

  7. I really enjoyed this post! We are going tomorrow and what I really liked was that your post didn’t gave – you must do this or that, just your own experience, we are going to the Brazilian side of the falls tomorrow and so we will see if we agree!!!


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