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Destination Guide: Iguazu Falls

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It’s not the highest waterfall in the world (that would be Angel Falls in Venezuela). Or the widest — that honor goes to Khone Falls in Laos. But Iguazu Falls is, in the opinion of many, the most spectacular waterfall you’ll ever see.

On the border of Argentina and Brazil, 275 separate cascades plummet from the Iguazu River into the Parana River. The tallest is an awe-inspiring column of water called the Devil's Throat. The Iguazu waterfalls are surrounded by a rare remnant of the subtropical Atlantic Forest.1

Getting there isn’t easy. The quickest (and most expensive) way to travel to Iguazu Falls is to fly: take a 90-minute flight from Buenos Aires or from Sao Paulo to Puerto Iguazu. From there you can take a bus or a taxi to the visitor center in National Park. No matter how you get there, Iguazu Falls is an experience that’s well worth the journey.

Things to Do at Iguazu Falls

Boat tours of Iguazu Falls aren’t the sedate rides you get at Niagara. You’ll board a high-powered speedboat, seal your possessions in a dry bag and zoom underneath one of the waterfalls. If that’s not enough of a thrill, splurge on a helicopter tour. A 10- to 15-minute flight gives you a breathtaking aerial view of the falls.

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You don’t need a motor or a rotor to appreciate Iguazu Falls, however. The Lower and Upper Circuit trails in the national park on the Argentine side lead to several amazing lookouts, as well as opportunities to sunbathe or splash in the river. Although a Brazilian tourist visa is expensive, a trip across the border allows you to get a panoramic view of the entire falls, giving you a new appreciation for this natural wonder.

One tip: While you might be tempted to bring your drone to get some breathtaking footage of Iguazu Falls, we don’t recommend it. Drones are not permitted within the Argentine national park.2

Another big attraction for tourists is the wildlife of Iguazu Falls: crocodiles, catfish and especially the coatis (coatimundis). These cute, furry, ring-tailed creatures have been half-tamed by tourists. Snap a picture, but don’t feed them! The coatis will bite.If you miss your chance to see tropical birds and monkeys inside the park, make a trip to the GuiraOga wildlife rehabilitation center nearby. It’s not a zoo — don’t expect to see a large, exotic menagerie — but it’s a great opportunity to learn about local fauna.

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Iguazu Falls Hotels

The premier hotel in Iguazu Falls is the Sheraton Iguazu Resort and Spa. Travelers say the rooms are spacious and comfortable, though the furnishings are a tad dated. But why waste a second inspecting the sofa when you can open the curtains and look out over the falls? The hotel’s location inside the national park means you can be the first, or the last, to enjoy the waterfalls each day.

On the Brazilian side, the Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas is a fabulous luxury hotel inside Iguaçu National Park. Enjoy the spa, the pool and fine dining. And if you’re lucky enough to be there during a full moon, take a guided nighttime walk to the falls to see a rare lunar rainbow.

Avoid the madding crowds at Iguazu Falls hotels by staying at the Don Puerto Bemberg Lodge, a serene hotel in a rainforest reserve 35 minutes from the waterfall. The hotel boasts a sandstone pool, lovely gardens, authentic local food and knowledgeable guides.

The Best Restaurants Near Iguazu Falls

Because both Argentina’s Puerto Iguazu and Brazil’s Foz do Iguaçu are tourist towns, some visitors complain about mediocre and overpriced food. Go to the right places, however, and you’ll find delicious local specialties, like pacu and dorado pulled from the river and fresh passion-fruit juice.

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La Vaca Enamorada in Puerto Iguazu is a hospitable place with a small, ever-changing menu. You might find grilled pacu, homemade pasta or the house dessert, grape fondue. If you’re looking for a traditional Argentine steakhouse, Aqva Restaurant is a favorite for perfectly seared beef and fish.

On the Brazilian side, Restaurante Porto Canoas offers tables overlooking the falls and an all-you-can-eat buffet of roasted meats, beans and rice, salad and traditional dishes. For seafood, try Trapiche Restaurante, known for its Brazilian fish stew and sushi.

Excited about your Iguazu Falls adventure? Travel insurance from Allianz Global Assistance is a must for trips to remote areas to protect you in case of injuries, illness or other travel mishaps. Travel happy!

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Aug 02, 2016