The roar of the falls became louder as we continued down the slick path of the Lower Argentine Trail. Mist rained down on our hoods and eyelashes and soaked into the crevices of our sleeves, and socks. Power. There is no better word to describe the sound of 2 million liters of water per second, pouring over an edge and plummeting hundreds of feet down into the Rio Iguazu Paraná .
Travel and photography have two very important things in common. Both offer their audience a chance to change their perspective of the world. As a photographer I wanted a higher vantage point on the falls, so we booked our helicopter tour though Helisul Taxi Aéreo on the Brazilian side. Tours run expensive but are absolutely worth the multiple dive passes taken by the pilots over the falls and surrounding jungle. Book with your preferred credit card that offers bonus points for transportation. Our little air excursion was filed under transportation because of the company’s name conveniently containing the word “taxi.” Arrive early in the morning to book your spot, avoid long lines and sold out flights.
Most tourists take a weekend to see Iguazu but we wanted time to see everything without feeling rushed. We had heard all about the different sides of the falls. The Argentine side is more “3D” with its winding paths over, under, and around the falls, while on the Brazilian side, it’s mostly a really awesome 2D panoramic photo. These descriptions were mostly accurate except for one Brazilian overwater trail that lands you right in the middle of Devils Throat. It is truly amazing! Although very windy and wet, this platform hosts the best almost 360 degree views of the falls. See the video below of the Brazilian platform.
Part of our Grand Adventure Green Passport Tour (more on the tour company below) included an Ecological Boat Trip but I don’t recommend booking this. This portion of the excursion was uneventful and offered nothing different from what we had already seen by walking the trails other then a lizard and some river weeds. If you are a flora and fauna enthusiast there are many beautiful butterflies and flowers to see but I recommend just bringing a guidebook.
Consider grabbing a snazzy lunch poolside at The Belmond on the Brazilian side. We stayed for hours sipping cocktails out of coconuts on a particularly hot day. Keep track of your lunch though. We watched a couple’s sandwich be devoured by a casual Anteater. The woman screamed and jumped out of her lounge chair while her husband, naturally, leaned back and snapped a selfie. We could not stop laughing. (Belmond pictured directly above, and bottom right.)
If you are interested in doing some water activities, both sides of the park offer boat rides into the rapids at the base of the falls. I recommend booking through Argentina, as they seem to have more exciting pickup and drop-off points. The Grand Adventure tour booked though the park’s exclusive travel company Iguazu Jungle, combines a 5K jungle jeep tour with the chance to glimpse groups of monkeys, Capybaras, or the South American Coati (anteaters), with a 40 minute adrenaline spiked boat ride into the falls. At the loading docks for the boats, large rubber bags were provided to keep belongings such as cameras dry. Don’t forget to include your shoes and socks in the bag!
Minutes into the upriver ride with battling rising rapids, the captain gave us some time for photos in the mouth of the falls before warning us to stow away our cameras. Similar to overheated children at play with sprinklers on a hot summer day, never have I heard such screams and squeals of joy coming from adults as the boat geared up and went full throttle into a white wall of mist and spray of the San Martín waterfall. We entered a blinding fog of precipitation. Amidst the joyful screaming and spouts of profanity, an internal dialog emerged. What if the tip of the boat actually hit the falls? We would flip. Turns out our guides were great and no one died. Kent and I laughed later about sharing identical thoughts of doom on the ride. The boat tour ended at the bottom of the Argentine Lower Trail where we slowly hiked our way up the rocky path past platforms offering plenty of majestic photo opportunities. (See top picture of Waterfall Salto Bossetti.)