Iguazu Falls: Brazil versus Argentina - which is the best side to see the waterfall from?

The mind-blowing Iguazu Falls

The spectacular Iguazu Falls, crashing through the boarder of Brazil and Argentina, are like no other waterfalls on earth.

Even for those who have visited other great waterfalls of the world, Iguazu Falls has the power to shock and awe. Former US first lady Eleanor Roosevelt is said to have been so impressed by the natural wonder, she uttered, "Poor Niagara!".

Wider than Zimbabwe's Victoria Falls, taller than Niagara and flowing, at peak times, with enough water to fill an Olympic pool in one second, Iguazu's 275 waterfalls put on an unforgettable nature show. Some say the torrents should have received a nomination for best supporting actor in The Mission, the 1986 film shot there, starring Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons as 18th century Jesuit missionary priests in South America.

The mighty Iguazu River borders the Brazilian state of Parana and the Argentine province of Misiones. Naturally, there's heated debate over which country offers the best views of the river's hundreds of falls. With more than a million visitors to the region every year, there's much more at stake than bragging rights.

In South America my host Andrea is Argentinian, and our local guide is from Brazil. Diplomatically, they both declare it impossible to pick a best side, making the case for staying an extra day to enjoy the views from platforms on both sides of the border.

That's just what we do, flying in to Cataratas del Iguazu airport on a LATAM domestic flight from Buenos Aires, then flying out from Foz do Iguacu airport on the Brazilian side a couple of days later. It's a good opportunity to relax in one of the most scenic, laidback places in South America.

Staying at a resort near the Iguazu National Park, we have time to swim in natural thermal pools, take spa treatments and enjoy a cultural dinner-and-show at the spot where the borders of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay converge.

On the Argentinian side, we walk along a lengthy boardwalk to reach the very edge of Devil's Throat Falls, deafening and spectacular as they thunder to the river below. We're close enough to get wet from the permanent mist, and enjoy the sense of almost walking on water as the boardwalk skims over shallow rapids in parts.

Brazil turns it on the next day with perfect weather conditions for exploring. Much is made of the fact that while two-thirds of the Iguazu Falls are in Argentina, many of the best spots to  view them are in Brazil. We're even treated to a double rainbow. Easy walking trails through the national park will appeal to most visitors; access to over-water viewing platforms via a lift is a plus for those with mobility challenges.

Adrenalin seekers won't want to miss the opportunity to get close – very close –to the falls on a speedboat ride. Suited up in orange lifejackets, guests are divided into two groups: those who don't mind getting a bit wet, and those who want to get fully drenched by the roaring force of the falls.

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In the end it's a subtle distinction, as the boat captains seem to take great pleasure from ploughing into the waves they create, sending massive sprays into the boat, to the delighted shrieks of those on board.

TRIP NOTES

MORE 

traveller.com.au/brazil

traveller.com.au/argentina

visitbrasil.com

FLY

LATAM Airlines flies from Sydney and Melbourne to Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires, with connections to airports close to Iguazu Falls. See latam.com.

STAY

Mabu Thermas Grand Resort, on the Brazilian side of the Falls, has family-friendly rooms and thermal swimming pools. See hoteismabu.com.br

TOUR

Collette's Highlights of South America tour includes two nights in Iguazu Falls, experienced from the Brazilian and Argentinian sides. See gocollette.com.au

Kristie Kellahan travelled to Iguazu Falls courtesy of Collette.

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