Iguaçu Waterfalls, Brazil, Argentina

The breathtaking Iguaçu Falls between Brazil and Argentina are the widest waterfalls in the world. The enormous water masses thunder up to 80m into the depths over an area of almost 3km.

Do you know Niagara Falls between the USA and Canada? They are almost puny compared to what Argentina and Brazil have to offer! The Iguaçu Falls in the national park of the same name are among the largest waterfalls in the world and definitely hold the record for the widest waterfall on earth with an extension of almost 3 kilometres.


The spectacular falls are on our lists of the top 10 places to visit in Brazil and Argentina and are among our top 10 most beautiful waterfalls in the world.

The name "Iguaçu" comes from the Guaraní, the official language of Bolivia and Paraguay, and means "great water". According to legend, the jealous snake-god Boi carved this gorge into the riverbed of the Iguaçu in search of a fleeing virgin.

PICTURES: Iguaçu Waterfalls

Photo Gallery: Iguaçu Waterfalls in Brazil and Argentina

Iguaçu Waterfalls: Enormous numbers

A boat trip gives you a lasting impression of the huge masses of water thundering down the Iguaçu Falls, Brazil/Argentina - © Eduardo Rivero / Fotolia
© Eduardo Rivero / Fotolia

At a width of 2700 metres, the water masses plunge up to 80 metres into the depths amidst a unique primeval forest scenery. In total, more than 250 waterfalls can be counted. This number fluctuates because it depends on the water level of the Iguaçu River. The highlight of the waterfalls is the Devil's Gulch. It is 700 metres long and 150 metres wide.

Opinions differ on the amount of water that rushes down the waterfalls per second. Up to 13,000 cubic metres of water per second are reported.

The different spelling of "Cataratas do Iguaçú" (Portuguese) and "Cataratas del Iguazú" (Spanish) is due to the fact that the national border between Brazil and Argentina runs right through them.

Visiting Iguaçu Falls - which side is the best?

A boat trip to the Iguaçu Falls is an indescribable experience for any visitor and is sure to remain a lasting memory, Brazil/Argentina - © jacek_kadaj / Fotolia
© jacek_kadaj / Fotolia

The Iguaçu Falls can be admired from the Brazilian and Argentinian sides. About ten percent of the Iguaçu Falls are on the Brazilian side. The Brazilians are not sad about this because they have a fantastic view of the Argentinian side of the Iguaçu Falls. Therefore, the Brazilian side is the better choice to visit the Iguaçu Falls.


However, if you want to experience the waterfalls up close rather than at a glance, you should opt for the Argentinian side. Jungle trails lead you very close and you can look the 80-metre-deep Devil's Mouth right in the mouth.

The most spectacular sight of the thundering masses of water is, of course, directly from a boat from the water. Boat tours are also offered on the Argentinian side. When the weather is fine, the waterfalls, together with a majestic rainbow, make for an impressive souvenir photo.

Of course, the best photos are taken from above! Helicopter tours give you a bird's eye view of the Iguaçu Falls. They only last about 10 minutes, but they guarantee goosebumps!

How do you get to the Iguaçu Falls?

From the Argentinian side, you can reach the waterfalls via footbridges. Buses start in Puerto Iguazu and stop directly at the entrance to the national park.

Buses to the boardwalks also start from the Brazilian side at the Visitor Centre. Over 1 kilometre long with several stops and optional detours, you can enjoy the view of the waterfalls.

When there are large numbers of visitors, long waits at the bus stations are not uncommon. Alternatively, you can walk the whole way. Signposts show all visitors the way to the waterfalls.

Tip: In some places you can get very close to the waterfalls. Due to the intense fine spray, you should put on a plastic skin, otherwise you will be completely soaked very quickly. Unfortunately, these are not provided on site and you have to take them with you.

Iguaçu National Park

The Iguaçu Falls are among the largest waterfalls in the world and definitely hold the record for the widest waterfall on earth, stretching almost 3km, Brazil/Argentina - © Eduardo Rivero / Fotolia
© Eduardo Rivero / Fotolia

Besides the thundering masses of water, the enormous biodiversity of animals and plants is an attraction in itself. One of the last remnants of the Atlantic rainforest is home to birds, monkeys, coatis, caimans and 800 different species of butterflies. If you are lucky, you may even spot a jaguar in the distance.

More than 7 million visitors are counted in Iguaçu National Park every year. The national park on the Brazilian side has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986, and the Argentinean side followed suit in 1984.


Related links:

Official website of the Argentinian Iguaçu National Park
Official website of the Brazilian Iguaçu National Park