Iguazu Falls are the largest waterfall system in the world. It is comprised of 275 separate waterfalls along 3 km of the Parana plateau which straddles both Brazil and Argentina. Even with our limited time in South America we wanted to make sure to visit Iguazu Falls Argentina with kids. We opted to fly from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu, the closest city to the falls. It was a quick 1 hr 50 min direct flight. To see Iguazu Falls Argentina with kids, we spent 3 days and 2 nights in Yvy Selva Lodge, Puerto Iguazu. We made arrangements beforehand using a local tour operator, SayHenque.
Tip: For those with more time or on a budget, a cheaper alternative is a 15-hour bus ride.
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What to do in Iguazu Falls Argentina with kids
To fully appreciate the size of Iguazu Falls we visited both the Argentina and Brazil side on two separate days. First up, Iguazu Falls Argentina with kids! We started the day early and drove the 15 min drive to the entrance of Iguazu Falls National Park with a tour company. Although we were there early, the park was already busy with visitors.
Tip: Only Argentinian Pesos are accepted as payment for the entrance fee. At the time of our visit, the fee was Ar$215.
A few meters from the entrance is the visitor’s center which houses a small eco-museum. The museum has two rooms. One focuses on explaining the diversity of the jungle surrounding Iguazu Falls. The second is about how man interacts with the area. We spent only a few minutes in the museum as the train to take us closer to the falls was about to arrive and the children were anxious to get going.
Riding the Ecological Train
The eco train is a very slow locomotive that traverses the park from the entrance (Central Station) to two stops within the park: Estacion Cataratas and Estacion Garganta del Diablo. Although the train is supposed to run every 20 min, it doesn’t follow the schedule strictly. Often, it will not leave the station until it is full. We chose to take the train to save our energy for hiking. For those that don’t want to take the train or have more energy than us, there is a trail from the visitor’s center, Sendero Verde, which is a jungle route to get to the next train stop, Estacion Cataratas. We opted to go to the end of the train ride and got off at Estacion Garganta del Diablo. The train ride itself was not very exciting. Surprisingly, the jungle scenery did not lend itself to spotting much wildlife.
From Estacion Garganta del Diablo there is an elevated bridge path that winds through 1100 m of wetland and rivers. The path leads to 3 overlooks that give an up close view of Devil’s Throat. Just like Niagara Falls on the border of the United States and Canada, Devil’s Throat in Iguazu Falls it is a giant horseshoe-shaped waterfall.
It has been said that when the first First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt saw Devil’s Throat, she exclaimed, “Poor Niagara”. No wonder, at 80 m high and 150 m wide it dwarfs Niagara Falls by approximately 30 m.
The viewpoint for the Devil’s Throat was very crowded. Because it is the focus of many tour groups, there is a lot of maneuvering of crowds trying to get group photos. We also found the official photographers on ladders that you could pay to take group photos to be a bit of a frustration. They stand right in the middle of the viewing platform blocking traffic from easily getting through.
Tip: There is a snack bar and restroom at the beginning of the trail but there are no services along the trail.
After getting our fill of the spectacular overlook, we made our way to our next adventure, boating on the Iguazu river (see below under “Boating”). The ride ended at Tres Marias port which is a quick walk to Estacion Cataratas. From this train station, you can either do the upper circuit or lower circuit or both. The upper circuit provides more of a panoramic view of the falls. There is a 650 m boardwalk that is built over the waterfalls so you are looking down at the falls.
By contrast, the lower circuit is almost three times longer at 1700 m. It also has 8 viewpoints. Some of the viewpoints are larger and have spaces for you to sit down and have a quick snack. Just be aware of the coati that are in the area just waiting to steal food (sometimes right from your bag).
Although swimming is no longer allowed in the National Park, the lower circuit allows you to get up close and personal with several waterfalls including the Two Sisters.
For those that want to hike further, there is another trail, Sendero Macuco, that has a trail head near the visitor’s center. This 7.2 km trail (roundtrip) brings you close to the jungle and to Arrechea Waterfall, a less visited waterfall in the park.
Tip: Bring your own food, drinks, and snacks as there are no food vendors on trails.
There are four boating activities on offer at Iguazu Falls Argentina by Iguazu Jungle. Most provide a way to get up close to the falls and guests get very wet! These include the Nautical Adventure which gets very close to San Martin waterfall and the Great Adventure which includes a trip in the jungle and a ride through some rapids. However, these activities are restricted to persons over 12 years of age. Even with painted on mustaches, there was no way C and D would pass!
There are two boating options however that are available to families with kids. The first is a boat ride to Isla San Martin, an island located in the middle of all the waterfalls in the National Park. The boat ride is free and accessed via a path from the lower circuit. Unlucky for us, the island was closed to visitors during our visit.
The second option is the Ecological Ride also by Iguazu Jungle. Instead of a boat, we boarded a raft for a slow 30-minute ride along the upper Iguazu river. It was the first time for the boys to be on a wildlife spotting adventure that required them to be near silent for an extended period of time. They were so occupied with trying to spot fishes, turtles, butterflies, and birds that they forgot about their constant need to talk.
Besides wildlife spotting on the boat. We also spotted other wildlife along the trails. The butterflies that congregated around the puddles excited C the most. D enjoyed trying to follow iguanas into the forest. While hiking the pathways of the lower trail, we spotted several monkeys. This was the boys first time seeing monkeys and the loved it- until the monkeys tried to eat the GoPro!
Iguazu Falls Argentina with kids- worth it!
Iguazu Falls had been on my personal bucket list even before it became one of the new seven wonders of the natural world. So, when C requested that we visit a country with penguins for our next adventure, I knew it would finally be my chance! What I didn’t know was that it would be so costly. Seeing Iguazu Falls Argentina with kids is not a cheap venture. It is out of the way of all the other highly visited sites. However, I can say that for us, visiting Iguazu Falls Argentina with kids was worth the cost of the detour.
Once there, the falls are very easy to navigate with kids. The pathways are well marked and a guide is not necessary. We chose to have a guide as we wanted to learn more about the flora and fauna. Plus, it is always helpful to have another adult around as D loves to climb fences. Next stop, Iguazu Falls Brazil with kids! Have you visited Iguazu Falls?
Having experienced over 20 countries across 4 continents Christina is well versed at travel planning and thrives on sharing that information with others with the hopes of encouraging more families to experience this incredible world that we live in.