Activities in Iguazu Falls
With the mighty falls thundering in the background, there is a wealth of activities to get up to
As one of Argentina's most important tourism destinations, it comes as no surprise that this is also an area that has an absolute abundance of activities to get up to while here. We usually recommend that clients spend a minimum of 2 nights in the area as many of the trips below can be combined into a full day, but there is certainly enough to keep you occupied for up to a week if necessary! Please have a look at some of the options below:
For your first view of the falls, walk to the Argentine side of the Iguazú National park and stroll along the lower Circuit. Just over a kilometre (half a mile) of paths running along the basin of the Devil’s Gorge that take you by turns under small splashing waterfalls or hopping over rivulets into the heart of the cascades with walkways that are only a few metres from the edge of the main falls, to be enveloped in the clouds of fine spray rising up from the raging torrent.
Continue on the small ecological train which chugs cheerfully through the rainforest, under the thick foliage inhabited by languid butterflies and lizards, while the sounds of birds and monkeys fill the air. At Estación Garganta there is another pathway rising above the other end of the Devil’s Gorge which leads to a panoramic point with stunning views of the broad upper lip of the falls.
The 90-metre Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Gorge) and the sight of vast curtains of white froth that seem to hang suspended in mid-air before plunging far down into distant spray instil you with a strong sense of vertigo, a terrifying attraction that draws you ever closer to the fragile rails of the balcony overhanging the main falls.
The Devil’s Gorge is possibly the most spectacular of the 275 waterfalls that make up this astounding complex of cascades arrayed in a 4 km-wide horseshoe shape across the Iguazú River which flows down from the Serra do Mar Mountain in Paraná, Brazil. This sudden deep drop was caused by a geological fault possibly the result of a volcanic eruption some 200 000 years earlier, although due to the natural process of erosion, geologists calculate that the actual edge has moved back 23 kilometres from its point of origin and will continue to do so.
Duration: 3,5 hours
Refreshments: Drinks, such as soft drinks, coffee or beer may be included or purchased independently according to passenger preferences.
Level of effort: This is a relaxed walking tour on catwalks with some stairs to climb.
Clothing recommendation:All guests must be advised to bring rubber-soled shoes as the catwalks are always damp and can get slippery.
Full day Brazil side and Macuco Trail
Drive to the Brazilian side of the Iguazú National Park in the morning and walk along the edge of the river gorge. Enjoy the diversity of views of the falls to be discovered from the maze of walkways that take you even closer to the edge. This side of the falls is a superb combination with a day on the Argentinean side as, on the Brazilian side you will be able to get great views and amazing photo opportunities!
Lunch at Porto Canoas Restaurant: The restaurant, located on the Brazilian side of the National Park, offers typical Brazilian regional dishes in a warm and friendly ambiance that reflects the beauty and harmony of its natural setting. The main dining room is air-conditioned and offers a sweeping panoramic view of the river, while the outside deck, almost overhangs the river, looking over the upper side of the Falls.
AFTERNOON: MACUCO SAFARI WITH BOAT TOUR
Located just inside the Iguazú National Park, the Macuco Trail is a great way to discover the magic sights and sounds of the jungle. Travelling in open carts pulled by electrical engines, means that you get a perfect view of the scenery along the trail, with guides pointing out examples of flora and fauna, such as orchids, bromelias, palms and trees that are centuries old, as well as monkeys and other animals that occasionally cross the trail.
Some three km down the trail begins the walking hike which leads to the Macuco Falls, 20 metres high, splashing down into a cool pool which is perfect for a dip on a very hot day. The last leg of the trail is the boat trip up-river in inflatable rubber dinghies to the base of the falls of Devil’s Gorge, an adventure in itself, as the boat leaps through the spray of the Three Musketeer waterfall ensuring all its occupants are well and truly soaked.
Half day Gran Aventura
An exciting adventure combining jungle and waterfall sightseeing. The tour begins with a 4WD open truck drive across the rainforest, along the Yacaratiá Trail sighting flora and wildlife. After an 8 km (5 mile) truck ride, a short climb of stairs leads to the platform where we embark on a thrilling boat ride upstream along the Canyon of the Iguassu River to approach Devil’s Throat Canyon, San Martín Island and the main falls: Three Muskateers, San Martín and Bosetti.
We arrive to the lower circuit and disembark. The catwalks shall take us back to the Hotel through tropical vegetation, exotic butterflies and birds, and imposing close-up views of the falls.
Duration: 2.5 hours
Refreshments: Drinks, such as soft drinks, coffee or beer may be included to be served on the Catwalks – on request.
Level of effort: The tour comprises 100 meters of stairs to climb. The ride is restricted to pregnant women and people with physical / medical problems.
Clothing recommendation: All guests must be advised to bring rubber soled shoes as the catwalks and boats are always damp and can get slippery. We strongly recommend wearing a lightweight water-proof jacket to help keeping as dry as possible when the boat approaches the falls. Before embarkation, passengers receive life-vests and plastic containers in which to protect photographic and filming equipment.
Be ready to be splashed and get WET!
Includes: Private transfer with English speaking guide. Entrance to National Park and regular boat excursion.
NOTE: If there is time the excursion can complete the Lower and /or Upper Trails if not done the day before.
Head across the border to the Brazilian side if the falls for a thrilling helicopter tour of the area. You’ll have a bird’s eye view of the spectacular falls, sparing over the massive block of cascading water. For those that are looking to have a truly memorable experience of the falls, there is absolutely nothing like looking down into the Devil’s Throat from 100 meters up!
The Iguacu Falls are formed by the Iguacu River which rises in the Brazilian city of Curitiba, the capital of Parana, and continues 1320kms from east to west, winding its ways through the state. Fifteen kms before joining the Parana river, the Iguacu flows over rough, uneven ground, and then, amidst exuberant forest, hurls itself into numerous and irregular falls extending over and area of 2700 square meters.
The Falls form a natural border between Brazil and Argentina. You’ll fly over the falls and the surrounding area, and through endless rainbows created from the spray. Next. Transfer to the Brazilian Iguacu National Park for a guided walk to the falls where you’ll be treated to spectacular panoramic views. Be ready to be doused with spray from the falls as you traverse the intricate set of walkways, bridges and stone staircases to views its most impressive segments, including Santa Maria, Deodoro and Floriano, and Devil’s Throat.
Iguazu Forest Adventure
Take a ride through the jungle in a jeep and stop off for rappelling down the falls, hiking the trails, and tree climbing. Get ready for jungle adventure! Explore the lush Misiones rain forest as you enjoy nature and adventure. Begin with an open truck drive deep into the jungle. Then, a short trekking will allow you to identify the different species of flora in the kingdom of Flora where ferns, giant stinging nettles, orchids and trees more than 150 years old such as cedars, ceibos, ibirapitás or María Preta, are seen surrounded by climbing lianas.
Climb to the top of a tree, and then get hooked into a zip line for a heart-racing, adrenaline- pumping trip out over the forest canopy. Fly like a bird from station to station, enjoying amazing views of the rain forest along the way.
Excited from your “flying” experience, next, you will be invited to go to a fantastic waterfall in the midst of the rainforest. This is the point of departure for rappelling down a vertical rock wall. After descending between waterfalls you can take a refreshing swim in natural pools. From the top (starting point) the view is pure wilderness, and the descent is exciting and fun.
All these activities are prepared for first timers and are assisted by skilled professionals so that everyone can experience adventure in Iguazú.
NOTE: Comfortable clothing is recommended. It is also useful to take a change of clothes with you, so that you will be able to change into dry gear after rappelling from a waterfall.
Includes: round trip transfer from Hotel in Iguazú, English speaking guide and 1 small mineral water per person. Canopy, wet rappel & trekking activities included. Security gear is provided.
Jesuit Ruins and Wanda Mines
A drive south to the village of Wanda, originally a community of Polish immigrants who travelled here in the early 20th century seeking peace and a new land in which to build their hopes. The nearby surface mines have borne semi-precious stones such as amethysts and other quartz into the light and their promising glitter can still be viewed today. The drive afterwards continues through the areas where reforestation is taking place to the ruins of the Jesuit mission of San Ignacio Miní, founded in 1610.
A significant period of the history of the Jesuit Church took place here in Misiones, set against the struggle between the Spanish and Portuguese crowns over their rights to territory in South America and immortalised in Roland Joffé’s 1986 epic film starring Jeremy Irons as the Jesuit priest intent on protecting the guaraní native Indians backed up by Robert De Niro as a converted slave trader, both grappling with Ray McAnally’s powerful church functionary sent by the King of Portugal to decide the future of the Jesuit missions and the native communities they ministered to.
The Society of Jesus, founded by the subsequently-canonized Ignatius Loyola in the mid-16th century, was set up to be a religious order of energetic well-educated young men as roving missionaries to preach and administer the sacraments wherever there was the hope of accomplishing the greater good. It was not long before they established themselves in Brazil, Peru and Paraguay, which included Argentina, Uruguay, parts of Bolivia, Chile and the south of Brazil.
They rapidly organised the small tribes of native Indians into Reductions or communities to be evangelized, setting up schools and carefully shaping their social and cultural development all the while respecting their innate rights. The system worked largely because the relationship between the Jesuits and the Indians was pacific and mutually respectful in nature and the communities were far from Spanish and Portuguese settlements which tended to clash with a civilization so different from their own. In their heyday, over 140.000 native Indians lived in some 30 Jesuit communities, of which 11 were in the area now known as the province of Misiones.
However, the Reductions soon came under the threat of Portuguese slave traders in the 1620s who carried out violent raids on the communities in search of men and women to be sold as slaves to the Fazendas and estates on the Atlantic coast. Finally, the Jesuit fathers decided to move southwards to the Yabebirí river where they re-founded San Ignacio Miní and Loreto, followed by Santa María La Mayor on the coast of the river Uruguay and Santa Ana deep in the thickets of the rainforest, all of which have been restored to a greater or lesser degree and may be visited today.
Jesuit’s exemplary task of evangelization and education which continued unhindered until the mid-18th century was not without its detractors and critics, particularly as the missionaries also excelled at trade with all sectors of society. The advance of the Enlightenment and the growing influence of the Freemasons in Europe encouraged ideological opposition to the Catholic Church and more particularly to the Society of Jesus, finally leading to the expulsion of the Jesuits from Portuguese territory in 1757 and from Spanish territory just 10 years later.
Once the priests had left, the Spanish could not find a way to get on with these religiously-organized villages and so these disbanded. The glorious mission buildings gradually fell into disuse and decay as the guaraní communities drifted away into social structures of a different kind, died or crept back into the jungle. Today, their descendants have merged with the immigrant white population, losing their language and culture, while the ornately decorated churches which enshrined their spiritual and social emancipation lie in ruins. At San Ignacio Miní a guided tour and a visit to the open air Museum will ensure you appreciate to the full the historical and social significance of these historic stone structures and the men who built them.
An ambitious restoration programme which includes not only a library and a workshop designed to reproduce ceramics in the Jesuit-Guaraní style, but also a project to recover the music of the missions is currently in full-swing at San Ignacio.
NOTE: Lunch can be included at a local restaurant along the road at an extra cost.
Clothing recommendations: Casual comfortable clothes Sneakers/tennis shoes/trainers
Other suggested items: Mosquito repellent Sunscreen
Parque de Aves
This programme takes you across the border to Brazil for a half-day adventure on the other side of the falls. Crossing the famed Tancredo Neves International Bridge, we arrive on the Brazilian side of Iguazú, where you’ll be led on a tour of the Parque das Aves, an amazing bird park that includes species of toucans, parakeets, macaws, flamingos and more. It also includes a special area dedicated to butterflies of South America.
This privately owned Bird Park was founded in 1994 by Dennis and Anna Croukamp. It was created to provide birds with the ideal breeding conditions, and it also guarantees the preservation of 16 hectares of native forest. Modern techniques and careful environmental planning were applied in the design of each aviary. This is currently the largest Bird Park in Latin America.
The park is home to rare and colourful birds that fly in the huge aviaries which have been built to blend in with the humid subtropical forest. Guest can enter these aviaries to come close to the birds. Other sights include alligators, anacondas, pythons, marmosets and butterflies.
HOURS: the Bird Park is open daily from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm and from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm in Summer (December to March)