Straddling the border between Argentina and Brazil, the Iguazu Falls make up the largest waterfall in the world. They are an undeniably spectacular and jaw-dropping sight that justifiably attract thousands of people from around the world. And it’s not just the falls that make this area incredible. The area is part of the unique Atlantic forests ecoregion which is one of the most biodiverse habitats in all of South America. Each side of the falls is surrounded by protected areas of forest – the Iguazu National Park in Argentina and Iguacu National Park in Brazil. These forests support an incredible diversity of wildlife including coatis, capuchin monkeys, parrot snakes, caimans, and a growing population of jaguars!
You can read about our experience wildlife watching in Iguazu here. Both sides of the falls offer spectacular views and are worth a visit in their own right. For wildlife, the Argentinian side seems to be less busy and has a greater number of trails where you can go wildlife spotting.
Average rating: 4.0 (very good)
Average cost: entry to the falls costs around $20 each side although the exchange rate can vary significantly! It’s possible to visit both sides of the falls in 24 hours although it is, without doubt, a rush. If you try to do it we’d recommend hiring a driver for the day. This costs around $40 each and can be organised by hostels in the area.
Best time to visit: the falls are spectacular year-round and there’s no bad time to visit. Although it’s worth noting that January, February, and the Easter period are the busiest months.
How to get there: the falls can be reached from two main towns – Puerto Iguazu in Argentina and Foz do Iguacu in Brazil. Given their remote location, most people fly from Rio or Buenos Aires. If you have time, you can take a bus direct from Buenos Aires although it is a 16-18 hour trip. Once you’re there it’s easy to get across the border and see the falls from both sides. There’s a nice guide here.
Typical activities: animal watching, bird watching, hiking, jungle trek, walking
Number of reports: 1
WILDLIFE IN Iguazu
According to reports submitted to WildSide, the most popular species that can be seen here are:
Caiman – 100% OF VISITORS (1/1) REPORTED SIGHTINGS
According to the IUCN, there are four types of caiman that can be found in and around the waterways of Iguazu. On the Argentinian side, are a large population of spectacled and dwarf caimans. While on the Brazillian side you can find dwarf and broad-nosed caimans. Other reports also suggest that yacare caiman can be found floating in the rivers and swamps or basking on the nearby shores. The large number of caimans makes them relatively easy to spot on either side of the park. Your best bet is to head out on one of the trails away from the crowds of tourists. We saw caiman on the Upper Circuit trail (Argentinian side) which also has spectacular views of the falls. The Macuco trail and Lower Circuit trails also look like a good bet.
Jaguar – 0% of visitors (0/1) reported sightings
The Atlantic forest crossing Brazil and Argentina once supported a population of around 400 jaguars. Sadly, by 2005 there were only 40 left – with just 8 in the Brazilian side of the park. However, thanks to joint law enforcement by both countries to tackle poaching, researchers have found that jaguar numbers are in the increase – reaching over 100 in 2018! This success means that you do have a chance of seeing jaguars in Iguazu – although sightings are rare. You need a lot of luck to spot one – especially if you’re sticking to the tourist trails. Reports on TripAdvisor suggest that the Belmond Hotel das Cataratas on the Brazillian side of the falls is a good spot for looking out for these beautiful cats.