The watery world of Misiones province in northeast Argentina is home to one of the planet’s most famous waterfalls – Iguazu Falls. An amazing place, without doubt but it also leaves in its shadow many other waterfalls that without Iguazu just up the road, would be tourist hot spots too. On our journey through the region, we explored a few, some quite popular, others less so.
Waterfalls in Argentina
Misiones province is flanked by 3 major rivers: the Parana, Uruguay and Iguazu. The iron rich soil gives the roads and surrounding landscapes a red colour that stands out so well against a green camper van! The province’s rough terrain is covered in the subtropical evergreen Atlantic rainforest and punctuated by canyons. Together the canyons, rivers and their tributories form a series waterfalls thought the region.
How to find waterfalls to visit in Argentina
So now you know the region has loads of waterfalls, take a look at your mapping software to find a few to visit. We decided we didn’t want to miss the big ticket attractions of Iguazu and Mocona but we also wanted to enjoy the landscape the region has to offer. This allowed us to explore less visited waterfalls. We’ve shared below the waterfalls we visited but our advice is to take a pick of a few in the area, and go explore them for yourself. And if you find some perfect waterfalls in Argentina, especially those hardly visited, then let us know in the comments.
Set in a protected area of over 13000 hectares, Salto Encantado is a 64 metre high waterfall set in a well run provincial park.
Cuña Pirú stream cascades 64 metres down a sheer basalt cliff face to the jungle floor below. It may not have a huge volume of water but it does have an exotic jungle feel.
Aside from the Salto Encantado waterfall, there’s loads of walking trails guiding you through perfect jungle, compete with butterflies, spiders and snakes! Some trails are easier than others, with well built wooden decked paths leading to lookout points for great views of the falls. Others are more demanding and can be closed if conditions aren’t great.
Admission to Salto Encantado is ARG$20 each (about 70p or US$1) and the park rangers are eager to answer any questions you may have about the park and trails too. If you visit, please say hi to Cecil from us!
Salto Alegre is a few kilometres from Salto Encantado but access isn’t so easy. When we visited, we drove 6 kilometres down a red dirt track through quite dense forest. The track is slippery when wet so take extra care.
Because of it’s location and lack of infrastructure, Salto Alegre receives few visitors. We arrived on a glorious sunny afternoon and found a flat grassy clearing to park. With such a beautiful landscape, a 20 metre high waterfall and our own camper van, there was no reason to leave. So we stayed for the night in complete solitude. Total bliss!
Of all the waterfalls in Argentina we visited, this on was by far our favourite. A combination of good weather, a stunning setting and having the whole place to ourselves, made for a perfect overnight stay.
Mocona Falls, also known as Yucumã Falls, must be one of the most unique waterfalls on the planet. Instead of cascading downwards and forwards, Mocona Falls runs along the length of the river Uruguay with water spilling off the side into a gorge. At 3 kilometres long, it’s the only waterfall in the world to run parallel to the river rather than perpendicular. Because the river Uruguay is a natural border between Argentina and Brazil, this unique geological feature is shared by both countries.
For half of the year the river is so full, the falls can’t be seen and the water in this stretch becomes like rapids. When the water levels drop, the sideways waterfall reveals itself. Because the falls face away from Argentina, the only way to see them is from the sky or the water.
The boat trip is a short but thrilling ride. From a floating platform, we donned our life jackets and boarded the RIB with 4 other passengers. We sped up river, the RIB fighting against the strong currents in stretches of water 140 metres deep. The skill of the pilot allowed him to manoeuvre us close to the cascading water, at times, nudging the nose of the RIB into the waterfall.
Mocona Falls are pretty remote in the Yaboti Nature Reserve but the drive offers some fantastic views along the way.
Iguazu Falls, Argentina
We saved the best ’til last on our tour through Argentina’s Misiones province. Our first glimpse of the colossal waterfalls was from a walking trail leading to several lookout points. There’s no way to hold back the smiles at one of the most wonderful places on earth. Even the late Eleanor Roosevelt was reportedly so impressed when she saw them she said “Poor Niagara.” Iguazu Falls cascades along the border of Argentina and Brazil. You can visit Iguazu Falls from both sides too with each park offering a different experience and perspective of the falls.
The legend of Iguazu Falls
According to local legend, a god planned to marry a beautiful aborigine girl called Naipí against her will. She escaped and fled with her mortal lover, Tarobá, in a canoe along the river. When the god found out, he flew into a rage, splitting the river in two, to create the waterfalls, condemning the two lovers to an eternal fall.
Geologists have a different version of how they were created, blaming a volcanic explosion millions of years ago. Regardless of which version is closest to the truth, Iguazu Falls are simply magnificent. Made up of 275 individual waterfalls, it spans an area 2.7 kilometres wide. The tallest of all the falls is Garganta del Diablo or Devil’s Throat, a U-shaped waterfall dropping more than 80 meters into a permanent cloud of mist.
Visiting Iguazu Falls
Iguazu Falls is almost twice as tall as Niagara Falls, and 3 times as wide. The amount of water pouring from them varies depending on the time of year. On average, a staggering 1500 cubic metres of water flows every second. That can increase to as much as 13000 cubic metres per second during the rainy season; a mind-blowing amount of water.
The trails on the Argentinian side of the falls offer not only fantastic viewing stations of Iguazu Falls but meander through the Atlantic rainforest. We spotted our first orange billed Toco Toucan, huge catfish, loads of naughty coati and even turtles during our visit on the Argentinian side.
There’s no denying the affect of negative ion charged air here. The park caters well for the million happy visitors it receives each year, though some spots along the trails are particularly busy. The first panoramic views of the falls are indeed awe inspiring but nothing prepares you for the close up experience at Devil’s Throat. There’s a 1 kilometre walkway over the river leading to the top of Devil’s Throat. From here, the views down the falls and along the river are phenomenal, the closest you can get to Iguazu Falls’ sheer power.
Mother nature did a mighty fine job with this natural wonder!
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