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TAKE IT BY THE THROAT
One of the world's biggest falls – actually there's 275 of them – the mighty Iguazu Falls lies on the border of Brazil and Argentina, and to appreciate the full spectacle, you must see them from both sides of the border. Devil's Throat, on the Argentinian side, is the highest of the falls, reached via a lengthy boardwalk that takes you right to the very edge of the thundering curtains of water. It's noisy and utterly spectacular. The calm of the Iguazu River, which stretches at eye level into the distance, contrasts with the pounding, spraying torrent in front of you. A series of waterfalls forms a horseshoe-shape around Devil's Throat, plunging 80 metres below. www.iguazuargentina.com.
GET TO THE HEART OF THE ACTION
It's one thing to stand back and take in the powerful landscape; it's another altogether to fully immerse yourself in it. And the only way to do that is to get wet. From the Argentinian side, navigate your way to the lower canyon, then pile into a large speedboat for a 12-minute adrenaline rush. The driver is on an elevated platform at the back of the boat; everyone else is up front – and he nudges you so close to the falls you get a pummelling. You do it five or six times around various falls, each approach drawing squeals of delight from the completely soaked crowd. Pack a poncho if you want to stay dry.
Aventura Nautica boat ride, from $40 a person. www.southamericatourism.com.
TAKE A STEP BACK
Iguazu Falls is split between two national parks: Iguazu National Park (Argentina) and Iguacu National Park (Brazil). On the Argentinian side, there's only one hotel within the national park: Sheraton Iguazu Resort and Spa. Not surprisingly, the entire enterprise is designed around the main attraction, its bank of rooms and balconies all fronting the falls, like the side of a cruise ship. Whether you overnight there, or just stop in for lunch, as we did, before ambling up a path to catch the Jungle Train out to the falls, that first sight of the falls is something to behold. At a distance of 1.6 kilometres away, you're close enough to appreciate the full panorama: the spraying jets of water set against the dense emerald green rainforest. Rooms from $395. www.sheratoniguazu.com.
GO THE FULL BRAZILIAN
Over on the Brazilian side, the dashing Hotel das Cataratas gets exclusive national park rights for that side of the border – only here, you're so close to the falls you can hear them resonating through the rainforest and get the full spectacle from the front of the hotel. Accessing them is just a matter of walking across the road, and along the shaded path that leads you down through the rainforest to the falls. The hotel itself is pure Colonial Portuguese splendour, a luxury destination in itself. After hours, when the park is closed to other visitors, you still get to experience Iguazu Falls. Rooms from $409. www.belmond.com.
BLAZING THE TRAIL
To fully appreciate the magnitude of the falls, which stretch for 2.7 kilometres in continuous cascades along the river, you need comfortable walking shoes. Most of the hiking is on the Argentinian side, where 80 per cent of the falls are. There's an upper and lower circuit that weaves through the rainforest, offering several encounters with the tumbling falls. On the Brazilian side, the suspended platform that stretches out across the falls is not just an engineering marvel, but the most exhilarating vantage point, with 360-degree views of tumbling falls and spray, and a soundtrack to match.
Two-night Iguazu Falls Stopover tour, from $625 a person. www.southamericatourism.com.
GET A BIRD'S-EYE VIEW
The only way to get a proper perspective on the size and scope of Iguazu's 275 waterfalls is from above, and the most exciting aerial view is by helicopter. It's 10 thrilling minutes of ducking and weaving around the falls, zooming in for a close-up then pulling out and up for a run along the length of the falls. Leave it as the grand finale, the closing act to one of nature's most breathtaking spectacles. Flights from $130. www.helisul.com
Isobel King travelled courtesy of South America Tourism Office and LATAM Airlines.