I recently had the opportunity to take American Airlines’ inaugural flight from Miami to Cordoba, Argentina. The moment I found out I would be traveling to Cordoba, I knew I had to make a short detour to Iguazu Falls. Recently named one of the New Seven Natural Wonders of the World, seeing Iguazu Falls was firmly at the top of my bucket list. Awasi is one of our preferred places for clients to stay, and they generously invited me to visit and experience their delightful lodge.
When I arrived at the airport at Iguazu Falls, it was under construction. Thankfully, I had no problem spotting my guide, Carlos, in his Awasi uniform. After a short drive to the lodge, the staff welcomed me at the door with a warm towel and a refreshing glass of juice.
I appreciated the light roast beef sandwich they offered before sitting down with Carlos to map out my activities. Since my time here would be short, planning my schedule allowed me to maximize my time and do as much as I could. We reviewed the maps of the falls, and Carlos explained the different paths and their vantage points. Awasi offers thoughtfully designed hikes with something for everyone, from shorter excursions to intermediate hikes, or fast-paced expeditions. Other than hiking, you can also ride bikes, visit a local village, kayak, paddleboard, or just relax at the lodge.
Awasi hosts 13 private stand-alone villas each with a private plunge pool. They also offer a Master Villa, which has two bedrooms, making it perfect for families or two couples to share. Each villa also comes with a private guide and vehicle, allowing you to craft a highly personalized plan of activities.
My villa during my stay at Awasi.
The first activity I chose was a sunset cruise on the Paraná River, which forms the border between Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. On our way there, Carlos and I made a quick stop at a butterfly garden.
My guide, Carlos, with one of the butterflies found near the falls.
This was a must-see for me, as there are over 600 different species of butterflies around Iguazu Falls!
Once onboard the boat, the staff from Awasi poured me a glass of local wine. After a toast, we enjoyed a spread of meats, cheeses, and other hors d’oeuvres as the guides discussed points of interest in all three countries.
After a beautiful sunset, we returned to the lodge where I enjoyed a five-course meal on the patio, complete with recommended wine pairings for each course.
The next morning, Carlos and I started our trek on the Upper Circuit of the falls. He recommended this trail to begin, as it is a leisurely walk into the park, and it serves as a great introduction to the falls and their wildlife.
I learned that there are over 275 falls, of which 80% are on the Argentine side. Our early start made it feel like we were the only ones on the trail through the jungle, except for another family who was also staying at Awasi. At our first overlook, I was amazed by the sound of the rushing water. The trail also offered plenty of opportunities to stop and take photos and videos of the spectacular jungle scenery surrounding the falls.
After the original walkways were washed away in a flood in 2014, the Argentines redesigned the paths into a loop to eliminate backtracking and congestion. I found this to be nice because it made the entire experience much more relaxing and tranquil.
Following a break for a pre-planned healthy snack that Carlos had brought from the lodge, we headed to the Lower Circuit which took us to the base of the falls. Being so close to the falls, I definitely got wet. I recommend bringing a poncho or raincoat when visiting the falls. Even with the spray, it felt like we had perfect timing—every waterfall appeared to have a rainbow near it!
Iguazu Falls on the Argentine side.
Carlos was even able to snap an amazing photo of me standing right underneath a rainbow. I didn’t find a pot of gold, but I still felt very lucky to have such a lovely memento of my visit!
After our morning adventure, I enjoyed lunch and a break at the lodge. Later in the afternoon, Carlos and I returned to the park to catch the train to the walkway out to Garganta Del Diablo, otherwise known as Devil’s Throat. This was when I started to realize just how large the Paraná River is! There is almost a mile of walkway out to the top of the falls. Standing at the top of Devil’s Throat was unbelievably impressive! It is over a 262-foot drop from the top to the bottom.
You cannot even see the bottom due to the amount of spray.
Devil’s Throat on the Argentine side.
On our way back, we stopped several times to watch the birds, butterflies, and coatimundis. Carlos is an avid bird watcher, and he was able to spot several Toucans in the treetops.
Toucan at the bird sanctuary.
Getting to see beautiful birds in their natural habitat was a highlight of my trip.
As my time at Awasi was coming to a close, I was eager to visit the Bird Sanctuary before continuing on my journey to Brazil to see the falls from another perspective. The Sanctuary is more than birds—they rehabilitate animals that have either been rescued from poachers or are healing from an injury, before returning them to the jungle. It was very interesting, especially since Carlos had firsthand knowledge of the rehabilitation process having previously been a volunteer! Awasi assists in the conservation of wildlife by donating and collaborating with the Sanctuary and other local entities to protect the ecosystem of the Atlantic Rainforest.
The ride to the Brazilian border was shorter than I expected, and the crossing could not have been any easier. The Brazil side of the falls was more congested since we arrived later in the day. However, having Carlos to guide me and transferring by private car meant we could bypass the long lines that are intended for busses, making it much faster to get into the park.
The day’s adventure began downriver from Devil’s Throat; the path hugs the hillside and at times was very crowded. One major difference on the Brazilian side is that this particular path had a lot more stairs, making it difficult for anyone with mobility issues. Despite the trek being harder, there were plenty of great opportunities to stop and take photos of the falls along the way. Carlos was quick to point out the places across the river that we had been the previous day. Today we walked out onto the observation deck at the top of the opposite side of Devil’s Throat. I was captivated by the roar of the water thundering down.
On the Brazilian side of the falls, I could see down to the bottom because there was not as much spray as there was on the Argentine side. Having been to Niagara Falls on both the U.S. and the Canadian sides several times, I can confidentially say Iguazu Falls left me far more awestruck. Both sides of the Iguazu Falls are worth taking the time to see. The Argentine side of the falls allows you to get close to both the top and bottom of the falls, whereas the Brazil side gives you panoramic views.
My Awasi experience came to a close, and I said goodbye to my guide, Carlos. I could not be more thankful for all of his excellent expertise sharing this beautiful part of the world with me. His keen eye for wildlife and knowledge of the area really helped me make the most of my time. Now that I have experienced the Awasi difference, I understand why Awasi is one of our most highly recommended accommodations to stay near the falls. From the moment you meet your guide at the airport until the time you leave, they cater to your every need, and I know my time would not have been as wonderful as it was without the vast knowledge and expertise of Carlos!
If Iguazu Falls is not on your bucket list yet, I highly recommend adding this must-see destination! With the Brazilian visa requirements recently lifted, there has never been a better time to plan your visit to both sides of the falls.