Iguazu Falls: Victoria’s Rival and home to millions of butterflies!

Posted by on May 25, 2011 in Argentina | 8 comments

When we got to our hostel in Puerto Iguazu there was fair amount of buzz surrounding a global online poll that allows online voters to choose the new Seven Natural Wonders of the World.

Click here to cast your vote New 7 Wonders of Nature, deadline 11/11/11.

28 Finalists were selected. Iguazu Falls made the cut while Victoria Falls, the only water fall on of the original Seven Natural Wonders of the World did not.

I had been to Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe side last year and it was nothing short of spectacular. So for Iguazu to beat Vic Falls out of the running in a global popularity contest gave me a very strong indication that I was in for a very special treat.

Iguazu Falls is a part of the natural border between Argentina and Brazil and can be visited on both international sides. Deciding which side to see it is a traveler’s nightmare so most travelers see it from both sides. But US citizens beware, we are required to have a Brazilian visa to enter Brazil, so if you don’t already have one like Ben and I did you might want evaluate if dropping an extra $140/person is worth it.

Here’s a quick break down of what to expect, the Brazil’s side is for viewing and the Argentina side is for adventure.  There are approximately 275 separate falls, the most impressive being the horseshoe shaped Garganta del Diablo or in English Devil’s Throat.

Devil's Throat

To get a panoramic view of all this water falling activity, the Brazil side offers the best all-inclusive view. But to get closer to the action and to explore the surrounding subtropical jungle and wild life the Iguazu National Park on the Argentina side blows the Brazilian side away and still offers stunning views.

The park offers two trails that visitors can take, the upper trail and the lower trail. The upper trail is the shorter trail that takes you to the top of the falls where you witness the calm of the Iguazu River abruptly open up into a furious sinkhole.

Giant Sinkhole

The lower trail is longer winding through the jungle it takes you right up to the bottom of the falls.

There’s also a tour company that operates out of the park called Iguazu Jungles that offers rafting trips, jungle tours, and boats to the falls, kind of like Niagara’s Maid of the Mist except in speed boats! We were going to do the Nautica Adventure, which is the 12 min speedboat tour. But the tour was shut down because 2 weeks earlier they had a fatal accident killing two passengers.

The park’s open-air passenger tram to the upper and lower trails would have been nothing special except that it was swarmed with thousands and thousands of butterflies.  It was dream like. Some would even fly along the tram for a few seconds before falling behind.

So many butterflies!

We then walked along the upper trail that was a series of catwalks and observations decks that zigzagged through the river and surrounding jungle giving one a “walking on water” experience.

Butterflies were plentiful here as well and not shy, landing on your out stretched hand if you stood still.

Butterflies love Me.

There were also plenty of exotic birds perched on near by tree branches, close enough to get clear pictures.

This is for you Aunt Sandy! My first bird photo!

As we approached Devil Throat, we saw the remains of one catwalk that had been in destroyed by the power of the river in a flood years ago.

Glad we didn't take that way.

And then we saw…Iguazu.

Us at Iguazu

When we were leaving the falls,  we saw a butterfly tornado, which was alittle difficult to capture by picture.  I need to start remember to use the video on my camera, but we are still learning to be bloggers/world travelers.

Butterfly Tornado

We also meet this coatis or Brazilian aardvark by the snack venders trying to charm his way to a free lunch.

He's cute, until he takes your food.

Since I have been to both Victoria and Iguazu. I will make a few observations about both. Iguazu offers paid tours of the park and the falls and is much more commercially built up then Victoria Falls, making it easier and more fun to experience the falls from different angles.  Victoria falls has more impressive wildlife on it’s main trail, like monkeys and deer that are not shy and come up to you to say hello or steal your food. Both falls are both fantastic.

Rainbow in the mist.

Note: 4 times a month during the full moon, the Iguazu’s Argentina National park is open at night. I really wish we could have done a full moon tour and would recommend looking into this if you are there at the right time.



  1. Love this post! Y’all look like you’re having a blast. The photo of the butterfly on your arm reminds me of that scene from Avatar. Can’t wait for your next post!

  2. Wow! Falls and all sounds wonderful! You gave some observations on each Falls, but didn’t say which you think is best. Heck, I thought Niagara Falls was great! I’m very impressed with your bird picture!! I can even see the bird. Are you able to identify any of the birds? I’ve taken lots of bird pictures and the kids say, “OK, here’s another ‘guess where the bird is’ picture of Mom’s!” Have you noticed how brilliantly colored many of the birds are? In tropical climates, birds are so gorgeous! Butterflies kind of tickle when they’re on your skin, don’t they? That’s a great picture of you with the butterfly! And Ben, I sat on a stump once for a picture and the fire ants came out! I jumped and yelped until I got them all brushed off, and most of them were just on my clothes and didn’t make it to skin. They are terrible!!!

    • I like Victoria falls the best but that’s because I love monkeys. I’ve been Niagara too but it was nothing compared to Iguazu and Victoria, sorry Niagara. Yes, We have definitely noticed the birds here are huge and brightly colored and as we travel more north I think the wildlife will get even more spectacular! The butterflies kinda freaked me out because they lick you. It was hard for me to stand still when the big butterflies were on me because it felt so weird. I would scream for Ben to hurry up and take the picture and he would just laugh at me.

  3. Yeah! The birds are pretty colorful here. We are looking forward to Bolivia and taking an Amazon tour should see some colorful birds there.
    Fire ants… grr.. yeah, i would scream as well if i sat on a stump full of fire ants. Bet that made for a good picture =)
    At the yoga park we had many encounters with fire ants, but they were really small ones, and it felt more like little burns when they bit at the yoga park. (while gardening I got a couple handfuls)
    But that little guy at the waterfall, not sure what variety of fire ant he was, but it felt like 10 bees stung me on the tip of my toe.

  4. One more comparison to add to Victoria Falls vs. Iguazu. Victoria Falls offers a dead hippopotomus floating on the river. What are the chances of seeing anything close it in Iguazu? Overall, the open blue sky, birds, rainbows, powerful devil’s throat and latin flavor makes Iguazu my favorite falls. Guys, tell me if you have any plans of going to Bariloche pretty please. I may want to meet up. Kisses, Maria

    • Dear Miss P.
      Ahhh Bariloche! I don’t think we’ll make Patagonia this trip, but Ben and I have decided we have to go eventually! You will be the first one to know when we decide to go. I’m obsessed with Patagonia so it will happen! Yeah it’s a tough one, but I think Victoria is slightly better, but only because of the monkeys but they are both fantastic! Awww and Thank for the comment on the picture, that one was Ben’s idea so I’m be sure to give him the compliment! Love you, L

  5. Hi Leah! I am really enjoying all of your posts and pics. Finally have had a chance to read them. So happy for you two. Keep sharing and stay safe. We miss you!
    P.s. That aardvark is cute!

  6. Hey Megan! I’m glad you are enjoying our posts. They’re fun to write. We are headed up to Bolivia tomorrow. Country numero 4! whoot. I miss you guys! I’m the slightly jealous one now. I miss the California sunshine in the high altitudes of the Andes, brrrrrr! Tell everyone Hi! and drink one for me at the beach! =p L

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