Foz do Iguassu Destination Guide

Foz do Iguaçu, with all diversities attractive, represents one of the most beauty tourist destinations of the world. With an incomparable natural wealth, as the National Park of the Iguaçu, who is considerate as Natural Patrimony of the Humanity and where the Iguassu Falls are located. The city has an ample hotel park, system of transports, gastronomic centre, support desk to the tourists and places for accomplishment of the most varied events. Options do not lack to make Foz do Iguaçu are unforgettable.

The city still has cultural attractive as well, with emphasis for the religious architecture, with Churches, the Buddhist Temple and the Muslim Mosque.

Our Foz do Iguassu destination guide below will give you an idea of the main attractions around the falls. Travellers can also book exciting Foz do Iguassu tours or activities with us, or take a look at our Brazil Country Guide for your travels our the greater Brazil.

Things to See & Do in Foz do Iguassu

The National Park of the Iguaçu is a real Foz do Iguassu highlight and makes use of interpretative trails and ecological activities: rafting, rappel, scaled in rock and strolls of boat in way to the falls. It is possible also to fly over the Cataracts by helicopter.

Itaipu Dam one of the Foz do Iguassu tourist attractions, stimulates the local tourism and is the biggest hydroelectric plant of the world in energy production. The Tourist Complex of Itaipu, the tourist can visit the Eco-museum, biological refuge, they are also able to seed the Monumental Illumination of the Plant.

Another point you can't lose is the three landmarks where there is the meeting between two important rivers: Iguassu and Paraná Rivers. They divide three different countries: Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, on this meeting point you can appreciate three landmarks simultaneously. The name of Foz do Iguaçu comes from this meeting point, the meaning for Foz do Iguaçu is: the end of big water.

Follow the links to the right or scroll further down the page for details on some of the many interesting tourist attractions in Foz do Iguassu:

Bananeiras Trail Top

This tour starts with a 1.6 km trail that can be covered on foot or on a bicycle. Here, nature lovers can see the native flora and fauna of the Iguazu National Park. There is extensive vegetation and small ponds are replete with aquatic birds. The next part of the tour includes navigating bi-motor boats on the upper Igauzu River to the Black Well Docks (Poco Preto). It also includes a visit to the 10-metre high observation tower from which the Black Well Alligator Pond (Lagoa do Jacare do Poco Preto) can be seen. This pond has a number of amphibious animals. The tour then leads up to the Bamboo Island Archipelago (Arquipelago Ilha das Taquaras) where you have the option of using inflatable kayaks (or ducks) to go around and see the sights. The return trip ends up at the Banana Tree Port (Porto Bananeiras) or the Canoe Port (Porto Canoas); the tour group is always accompanied by skilled guides.

Bird Park Top

This bird park of world class standards covers four hectares of second-growth subtropical forest. There are over 500 birds on display, both of indigenous and foreign origin. The park is looked after by professional biologists, veterinarians and agronomists. Tourists can be in direct contact with them because there are no restrictions of cages and nets. A vital breeding programme is ongoing at the park for some of the endangered species of birds.

The park has over 900 birds belonging to 150 different species; a majority of them are Brazilian birds. One third of this total number comprises endangered species. All the birds arrived here from zoos or IBAMA-authorised breeders. Under no circumstances will the bird park accept any birds from unknown sources or birds which have been obtained as a result of animal trafficking. All animals are duly registered and a report is sent annually to the Brazilian Zoo Society and the official IBAMA. Some of these birds have been rehabilitated and they cannot return to their natural surroundings.

A tour can be carried out from well identified pathways which meander through native vegetation. These walkways lead tourists to numerous huge aviaries which are 630 m2 in area and 8 metres high. These are replete with bridges, cascades and vegetation where the tourist can observe the behaviour of different species without the hindrance of nets or screens. Smaller aviaries exhibit species from south-west Asia, Oceania and Africa. Regional butterflies and humming birds are sheltered in fragile and colourful aviaries. In another natural environment which is reserved for reptiles, tourists can also spot caymans and boas.

Check out our Iguassu Falls bird park tour.

Boat ride of Iguassa Falls Top

You could enjoy any of the many magnificent boat rides that take you under the waterfalls; the Safaris from the Brazilian side, however, can be more expensive. You can avail of wild water rafting, sailing and other activities at a better price if you go all the way to the "Las Cateratas" station on the Brazilian side. You can also get a very good rate if you reach just before the activities close for the day or when the authorities are not busy, by easily bargaining with them.

From the Argentinean side:

The Iguazu Falls are definitely one of the key tourist spots in Argentina, if not the whole of South America. The size and force of the falls is overwhelming and neither prose nor photographs can really substitute for being there in person. When you stand on the rocky edge and look down, you will be able to feel the vibrations of the water crashing down below through your own feet! If you endeavour to go on one of the walkways built over the abyss on either side, not only will you get a better view of the falls, but you will also get drenched and have the thrill of hanging in mid-air over vast clouds of water spray!

The website of Iguazu Jungle Explorer offers good boat rides (highly recommended) and tours through the park in a 4X4 truck (not very interesting). These can be booked near the entrance or on the "circuito inferior" before going down to the ferry.

Check out our selection of boat rides on our Iguassu Falls activities page!

Canopy Tour Top

This tour is carried out in the heart of the subtropical forest at a height of 8 metres from the ground. The main aim is to maintain your balance throughout this tour while walking on steel cables and poles, then on a net which is suspended in mid-air, across a suspended wall which has handles that can be held while climbing and finally across a zip line spanning 25 metres.

History Top

Archaeological research carried through by the Federal University of the Paraná in the Brazilian space of the reservoir of Itaipu, before its formation, had pointed out in 6.000 B.C. the vestiges of the most remote presence human being in the region.

The last ones, that they had preceded the Europeans (Spanish and Portuguese), had been the Indians. In the simplification that divide the History of America in before and after the discovery for the white civilization, later it starts for Iguassu in 1542, discovery year of the waterfall of the Iguaçu by Álvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca" one of the Spanish adventurer.

Alvar Nuñez left Spain with an expedition to the south of Brazil with 400 men search new land he had required to the Crown of Spain. He arrived in the Island of Santa Catarina, he was ventured into the continent. In 1542 he arrived at the Iguaçu River Land guided by Indians. He discover the Cataracts without been alerted by its existence by his guides. His expedition escaped of being swallowed by the alert that he received from the boom of fog waters and clouds that sighted of the deep one of the precipice.

He baptized the fantastic phenomenon of the Santa Maria and followed trip for Paraguay, without leaving track of any form of occupation of the area. Of Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca in the region it was only the register of that he was discover man of the Cataracts.

After, Jesuit missions and disputes between Spaniard and Portuguese for the ownership of the territory are succeeded, the Saga was until the ends of century XIX, when finally starts the occupation.

For disinterest or incapacity, the Portuguese had allowed that the Spaniard, using the Jesuits missions, to posses the situated region between the rivers Paranapanema, Paraná and Iguaçu. It was Bandeirantes task to obtain this territory for the Portuguese domain.

In 1619, a São Paulo flag commanded by Black Manoel made first cleaning operation. Of hunting to the indians and destroying of the Jesuits missions in the region. The operation was completed by the Bandeirante Antonio Raposo Tavares, between 1629 and 1632. With in army of 69 men of São Paulo, 900 mamelucos (mix between white men and Indians) and 2,000 aboriginals, Raposo Tavares has annulled the Spanish pretensions. But the Portuguese was limited in the conquest and they had not effectively occupied the territory.

The guarantee of this territory to the Portuguese crow came with Madrid's tread, celebrated between Portugal and Spain in 1750. But It it wouldn't be enough to start the occupation of this land . An attempt was fair in 1765: the creation of a military establishment in the border of Brazil with Paraguay and Argentina was suggested to guarantee the Portuguese domain on the area. The proposal was not materialize and the region continued relegated and forgotten.

Only more than one century later, in 1876, the captain Nestor Borga in species of discovering expedition, with the pretension to incorporate the domestic territory a considered province lost. It was the first step of occupation, that was not consummated. New fact, however, occurred in 1881: Iguaçu received the two first come habitants to be - the Brazilian Peter Martins Da Silva and the Manoel Spaniard Gonza'les. Shortly afterwards the Goycochéa brothers had arrived, who had started grass-kill to explore it. Meanwhile, the Ministry of the War, in Rio De Janeiro, argued the necessity to establish a military colony and a detachment of the Navy in the Iguaçu river.

The Ministry of the War was worried about the growth of the Argentine and Paraguayan population in the region the predatory exploration of grass-kills and the wood. The old fight to guarantee the integrity of the Brazilian territory in this point of the map had not finished. The moment to give to a definitive impulse to the occupation for Brazilians of the strategically ground position of the border with Paraguay and Argentina was fond.

Iguassu Falls Top

The sight of the Iguassu Falls is breathtaking as huge amounts of water are thrown over cliffs and the mist rises amidst the trees in the forest. The Iguassu Falls are taller than and twice as wide as the Niagara Falls. Eleanor Roosevelt, on her first visit here, is reported to have said, 'Poor Niagara!'.

It is definitely worth spending a day on either side (Brazilian and Argentinean) of the falls.

From the Brazilian side, you can get an excellent view of the Devil's Throat and other waterfalls, from the top and the bottom. It will cost you R$20 pp but is cheaper for Brazilian residents.

The word Iguaçu means 'big water' in the Tupi-Guarani etymology. The Iguaçu River, which forms the Falls 18 km before the river meets the Paraná River, succumbs to uneven ground and plunges 72 m with a width of 2,780 m. Its geological formation dates back to approximately 150 million years.

The Iguaçu River is 1,200 m wide upstream from the Falls and downstream it narrows down to a 65 m channel. The total width of the fall in the Brazilian territory is around 800 m and 1,900 m on the Argentinean side. Depending on the river flow, the number of waterfalls ranges from 150 to 300 and the height of the waterfalls ranges from 40 m to 82 m forming a 2,700 m semicircle. The average water flow of the river is around 1,500 m3, with a velocity ranging from 500 m3/s during the drought season to 6,500 m3/s during the flood season.

There are 19 large waterfalls; three of them are on the Brazilian side (Floriano, Deodoro and Benjamin Constant) while the remaining ones are on the Argentinean side. The position of the waterfalls, most of them on the Argentinean side and facing Brazil, makes the Brazilian side more desirable for viewing the Falls.

After taking a wide turn, the bulk of the water plunges into a deeply eroded gorge, Devil's Gorge. This 85 m high waterfall is the one most appreciated by tourists; its shape resembles a horseshoe.

Be sure to check out our Iguassu Falls tour!

Iguassu National Park Top

Created by federal decree number 1035 on January 10, 1939, the Park comprises a total area of 185,262.5 hectares and a length of about 420 km, 300 km of which are natural borders with water bodies. The Brazilian and Argentinean parks together comprise nearly 225,000 hectares.   

On November 17, 1986, during the UNESCO conference held in Paris, the Iguaçu National Park was listed as Natural Heritage of Humanity and is one of the largest forest preservation areas in South America.

The Iguaçu National Park owes its name to the fact that it includes an important area of the Iguaçu River (approximately 50 km of the length of the river and the world famous Iguaçu Falls.)

It is the most important park of the Plata Basin and, since it is a haven to an abundance of animal and plant species, it was the first park in Brazil to receive a Management Plan.

The Iguaçu National Park is spectacular as well as pioneering. The first proposal for a Brazilian national park aimed at providing a pristine environment to 'future generations', just as 'it had been created by God' and endowed with 'all possible preservation, from the beautiful to the sublime, from the pictures to the awesome' and 'an unmatched flora' located near the 'magnificent Iguaçu waterfalls'. These were the words used by Andre Rebouças, an engineer, in his book, 'Provinces of Paraná, Railways to Mato Grosso and Bolivia', which began the campaign aimed at preserving the Iguaçu Falls in 1876, when Yellowstone, the first national park on the planet, was four years old.

In Brazil, the Park has boundaries with the following municipalities: Foz do Iguaçu, Medianeira, Matelândia, Céu Azul, São Miguel do Iguaçu, Santa Terezinha de Itaipu, Santa Tereza do Oeste, Capitão Leônidas Marque, Capanema and Serranópolis.

As suggested by Rebouças, the park's basic goal is the preservation of the highly relevant ecologically and scenic natural ecosystems, thus enabling scientific research and the development of environmental education and interpretation activities, recreation in natural surroundings and ecological tourism.

The Park is located in the western-most region of the state of Paraná, in the Iguaçu river basin, 17 km from downtown Foz do Iguassu. It borders Argentina, where the Iguazu National Park, which was founded in 1934, is located. The border between the two countries and their national parks is made by the Iguaçu River, whose source is near the Serra (mountain range) do Mar near Curitiba and runs for 180 km through the state of Paraná. The river estuary is located 18 km down-river from the Falls where it flows into the Paraná river. This meeting of rivers forms the triple border of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.

The area of the park most visited, and where the concession areas of Cataratas do Iguaçu S/A are located, accounts for approximately 0.3% of the total area of the park.

The most spectacular sightseeing in the park is the Iguaçu Falls, which form a 2,700 m wide semi-circle, where the waterfalls fill visitors with awe as they watch the water plunge down from a height of 72 m.

The number of waterfalls ranges from 150 to 300 depending on the Iguaçu river flow. Besides the exuberant waterfalls, there are other attractions such as rich fauna, the Poço Preto (the Black Well), the Macuco Waterfall, the Visitors Center and the Santos Dumont Statue (a tribute paid by VASP (an airline company) to the 'Father of Aviation' who lent all his prestige and efforts in turning the falls area into a National Park.)

Nightlife Top

The intersection of Victoria Aguirre Avenue and Avenida Brazil is a lovely place for an evening stroll. There are numerous bars and restaurants lined up to please different tastes. You will also find rather exotic night clubs like Puerto Bambu, which plays reggae music and is decorated entirely with bamboo, as the name suggests.

Up Avenida Brazil, crossing into Paraguay, there are a number of bars which seem to be the stop-off points before heading to the topmost disco in town, the Cuba Libre Disco Pub. Other night clubs include 'Jackie Brown's' which is famous for its cocktails and DJ chill-out nights on weekends, and Puerta del Sol and Electra, which are famous for piped music and beer.

Other night clubs include Café Central, Jokers Pub, which is famous for pool, Oba Oba and Cristal Casa de Show, which is known for its live shows.

Poco Prieto Trail Top

This tour begins with a 320 metre suspended footbridge right in the middle of the Iguazu National Park. A 9 km one way trail follows, which can be covered on foot or on a bicycle. On this stretch, you can see beautiful flora and fauna native to the park. At the end of the trail, take a short break to rest. Here, there is a suspension bridge followed by a 500-metre rustic trail which leads to a 10-metre high observation tower. The tower provides a panoramic view of the forest, especially the Alligator Pond (Lagoa do Jacare), which has a concentration of a large variety of aquatic animals. The navigation of the upper Iguazu River follows, passing by the Bamboo Archipelago (Arquipelago das Taquaras). There is also the option of taking a trip in an inflatable kayak followed by snorkelling to view aquatic vegetation. The whole tour is made with the help of skilled guides. The return trip is via the rapids which pass by Parrot Island (Ilha dos Papagaios), where thousands of parrots take flight at sunrise and sunset. Disembarkation is at the Banana Tree Port (Porto Bananeiras) or Canoe Port (Porto Canoas).

Rafting Top

Rafting on the Iguazu River starts from San Martin Island, which is preceded by a gripping tour on a Macuco Safari motor boat. Here, tourists are transferred from the motor boat to a rubber raft which is propelled by paddle. This is the beginning of the trip downriver along the rapids which are formed due to the narrowing of the river and the waterfalls. All through the entire tour, a support boat follows the raft, ensuring additional security to everyone on the raft. Before this tour starts, a professional guide explains the basics of rafting, showing the equipment and the boat, basic manoeuvres to be taken as well as security measures. This guide leads the raft, giving instructions to participants during the entire route.

The Legend Top

Legend has it that the Caigangue Indians, who inhabited the banks of the Iguaçú river, believed that the world was ruled by M'Boy, a god in the shape of a serpent and who was the son of Tupa. Igobi, the tribe chief, had a daughter named Naipi, who was so beautiful that the water of the river remained still every time she looked at herself in them. Because of her beauty, Naipi had been promised to M'Boy and lived solely to worship the god. However, there was among the Caiguange tribe a young warrior named Tarobá who fell in love with Naipi.

On the day the beautiful Indian maiden was to be consecrated, while the chief and the witch doctor drank cauim (a drink made of fermented corn) and the warriors were busy dancing, Tarobá took the opportunity and eloped down river on a canoe with beautiful Naipi. When M'Boy realized that Tarobá and Naipi had run away together, he became furious and dove deep into the ground, twisting his body and producing a large gorge that gave birth to a huge waterfall.

Engulfed by the water, the canoe and the escapees fell from a great height and disappeared forever. The legend says that Naipi was turned into one of the rocks in the center of the falls which is permanently flogged by the raging waters.

Tarobá was turned into a palm tree standing at the edge of a cliff, leaning over the river gorge. Under this palm tree, there is the entrance of a cave under the Devil's Gorge where the vengeful monster lies eternally watching his two victims.

Trike Flight Top

This is a thrilling flight over the reservoir of Itaipu Hydroelectric Power Plant. The flight departs from the Tres Lagoas Airclub, which is located 15 km from downtown Foz do Iguassu. The runway is just an airstrip made of grass. This flight gives a panoramic view of the Itaipu Dam and lake from an altitude of 600 metres. The Iguazu Falls lie just 30 km from the airstrip and it is possible to see the mists formed by them on a clear day.

Rappelling Top

The descent for rappelling Iguassu falls starts from an iron platform built strategically on the basalt rock wall, with its base on the right bank of the Iguazu River. This exhilarating descent gives a spectacular view of the awesome Iguazu Falls, the Iguazu River and its gorge forming incredible rapids, the basalt rock walls, and the extensive subtropical forest and its animals. The rappelling instructor first gives instructions on the technique used for the descent and the safety equipment to the participant on the platform, after which the participant has to descend alone. After the descent, the participant can opt for the rafting tour which begins from a boarding point on the riverbank which is 400 metres from the rappel platform. Else he has to return to the starting point which involves climbing a 350-step ladder situated at the iron platform.

Rock Climbing Top

A sum total of 33 rock climbing routes are located in the rocky wall of the Iguazu River, the right bank of which is on the Brazilian side. These routes set in natural surroundings give a spectacular view of the Iguazu Falls, the Iguazu River and its rapids.

First Timers who have never done rock climbing before will be accompanied by two experts in rock climbing carrying the entire equipment.

Experienced Climbers will have to go through a test on the artificial climbing wall to prove the validity of his/her experience. If there is only one climber, he/she will be accompanied by an expert on rock climbing and equipment. If there are two climbers, they will be allowed to climb on their own but the assistance of the technical staff will always be available. Experienced climbers who want to climb alone will have to use their own equipment.

After climbing, the person can opt for rafting down the Iguazu River. This can be done from the port located on the banks of the river, near the rock climbing site. In this option, the climber will have to rappel down along the same route.

How to GO to Iguassu Falls by bus Top

Which bus station of the big towns of Brazil you can find tickets to Iguassu Falls (Foz do Iguaçu), and which place the price depends but for sure is the cheaper way to get here? They have the Leito Buses that are the better ones and the Conventional buses. The distance from Curitiba is about 650 km, and São Paulo is about 1200 km to Iguassu, 1500 km from Rio de Janeiro, and 1700 km from Belo Horizonte. No matter the way you get here, the important thing is that by getting here, you cannot lose the opportunity to see this great amazing work of the nature.

How to GO to Iguassu by Airplane Top

We have two companies that operate to Iguassu Falls: GOL and TAM. Gol is the newest company that offers, sometimes, best rates, and Tam is the biggest company from Brazil so you can find more regular flights to Iguassu. The rates depend on the season and where you are and the flight from São Paulo is about 1 hour 20 minutes and Rio de Janeiro is about 2 hr. Those places offer direct flights.