by Virginia Crivelli
Travel Specialist in Trips SouthAmerica
What else is there to do and visit in Iguazu and around?
In addition to visiting the imposing Iguazú Falls, there are several interesting activities to do in Iguazú and its surroundings on both the Argentine and the Brazilian side.
Thinking enough about all my experiences in the area, which I have visited more than 36 times as a tour leader, these are the 6 options that have caught my attention in each side:
1 – Mines of Wanda
This is a tour that takes between 1 and 2 hours maximum. Super interesting for geology lovers and, in my opinion, for general public, since in this place a good amount of semiprecious stones like amethysts, agates, topazes, jaspers and several types of quartz can be appreciated.
Times to Visit
Mar – Dec: 7:30 hs to 18:30 hs
Jan – Feb: 7:30 hs to 19:00 hs
These mines are located 51 km from Iguazú going towards the south (road to El Dorado and San Ignacio).
Anyone can do it.
There’s no age restriction.
These stones can be observed in gross, and also handcrafted in beautiful pieces, both decorative and in jewelry, in the commercial premises within the mining establishment.
Small-scale mines do not use heavy explosives and are an excellent place to learn more about the geological processes that make up gemstones.
2 – Ruins of San Ignacio Miní, World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The ruins of San Ignacio are the best preserved of the Jesuit missions of the 16th and 17th centuries. Around a central square they distribute the church, the Father’s House, the cemetery, the houses and the town hall. These facilities were constructed with big pieces of local stone, the red sandstone.
During this visit, that normally doesn’t last more than 1 hour, a guide (there are both Spanish speaking and English speaking, for the last ones it is necessary to request for them in the entrance), will take you to get around the mission and will explain the history of this place, why it was founded, which was the goal of this congregation of priests, how it was their relation with the original people (the guaraníes), what economic activities carried out, etc.
Times to Visit
Every day from 9 hs to 18 hs
San Ignacio is a small town with little infrastructure, doesn’t have first class restaurants nor hotels of great comfort.
Anyone can do it.
There’s no age restriction.
The Jesuits were very important in the construction of the South American nations, not only by its mission of evangelize, which has taken to all Latin Americans to be strong believers (mainly in the catholic faith), but they also brought with themselves many tools, forms of production, and even education (since the first schools and universities have been founded by them).
In order to better understand the influence of this congregation (mainly in South America) I recommend to whoever has interest in understanding our culture and history of Misiones Province, to watch the film “The Mission”. A film of the 80s with the performance of Robert de Niro and Jeremy Irons, and the exquisite sound track composed by the most excellent winning “maestro” of multiple prizes of international level like the “Oscars”, Ennio Morricone.
3 – Day at “Estancia Las Mercedes” + BBQ
Either if you’re on your way to Iguazú or San Ignacio I really recommend to make a stop at Estancia Las Mercedes”. This one belongs to the Lowe family, of English origin, and is taken care of by its own owners who, by all means, speak perfect English and Spanish.
In this beautiful ranch from the beginning of the last century there are 2 houses to receive guests, the main one, that has 5 rooms with private bathroom, and the guests’ house that has 3 rooms and 2 bathrooms. The house is made totally of wood and maintains the original furniture and old decorations. In its 650 hectares, Estancia Las Mercedes is populated with cattle, “yerba mate” crops, pines’ and eucalyptuses’ plantations, forest, crystalline streams and fish farming pools.
Times to Visit
Any time of the year.
You can go for a half day, a full day and
even stay there.
Anyone can do it.
Horseback riding, canoeing, hiking, swimmin, photographic safaris and observation of rural activity.
In addition to exquisite homemade meals such as the famous “asasado argentino”, made with meat produced in the former ranch, homemade salads and breads, English tea with scons, breads, homemade jams and typical “chipá”, very common in the Argentinean Litoral, the hosts offer different activities like horse riding and kayaking. For those who just want to relax and keep cool, they can enjoy the large pool in the backyard.
I hope you are lucky enough to meet the lovely Edith Lowe and hear the very interesting anecdotes and history of her family
To consider: This is an isolated place in a small town of the province of Misiones, if you’re looking for nature and relax, definitively, this is the place!
This is a working ranch, therefore, you will be able to observe the work it takes to maintain it daily.
The antique furniture, books and ornaments are immaculate, giving one an experience similar to traveling through time.
1 – Bird’s Park
Visiting the Iguazu Falls on the Brazilian side, normally, doesn’t take more than 2-3 hours. Then one has enough time to be able to visit the beautiful “Parque das Aves”, this one is about 200 meters from the entrance of the falls and to take a look around takes, approximately, one hour and a half.
When you enter the park you can observe all type of birds in the aviaries from golden parakeets, flamingos and macaws to harpy eagles, toucans, and cranes.
Time to Visit
Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 hs to 17 hs
Walk through the 12 acres of subtropical forest
Some of its huge cages are walkable galleries for visitors, where they can see macaws and toucans flying overhead! Also you’ll be able to enter a butterfly farm where you’ll learn and see everything about the metamorphosis’ process of these beautiful creatures. In addition to birds and butterflies, lizards and anacondas can be found in this park.
At the end of the trail you’ll find a shop that offers different souvenirs from the park and a fast food restaurant. Also there you’ll be able to get a picture with a macaw sitting on your arm, if you wish so.
- This park is a reserve for the conservation of different species, where they host and take care of rescued birds that have suffered trafficking and mistreatment, and that can no longer return to their natural habitat.
- In front of Parque das Aves is the heliport from where you can take a helicopter ride over the falls for some minutes.
- On the same day you can visit the waterfalls on the Brazilian side, Parque das Aves and fly by helicopter.
2 – Helicopter Ride to Admire the Falls
200 meters from the entrance of the Brazilian side of the falls and in front of “Parque das Aves” is the company that operates overflights around the falls.
It’s about a 10 minutes flight in helicopter, to contemplate the grandiosity of this natural beauty, considered one of the 7 natural wonders of the world. These helicopters are fairly new and very well maintained. Although it is an expensive activity, is something you’ll never regret to have done! How many times will you see these falls again? I say that if you are not traveling on a budget, it’s definitely worth the investment in an experience like this!
- This ride can be combined with a visit to the falls and “Parque das Aves”.
3 – Skydiving with views of the huge Itaipu Dam
If you are an adrenalin lover this is the activity for you! I will never forget the feeling when getting on the plane and starting to fly, then sitting next to the instructor on the floor to jump into the void. The initial fear, mainly being a person who suffers vertigo, and the sensation of total freedom once having jumped to the emptiness is something very difficult to explain. When one jumps, after giving a few turns in the air, the instructor opens the parachute and begins to pilot it. The happiness that invades you at that moment is something out of this world! After observing for a moment the landscape and the colossal “Itaipú Dam“, the instructor offers to take the reins and ride the parachute in the direction you want. Upon landing, the first thing I thought was “I want to do it again!” Definitely in this life, one only regrets what it hasn’t done and this is an experience that no one should miss.
What to wear
Wear comfortable clothing, preferably sportswear. Avoid jeans and flipflops.
Be over 14 years old.
People weighing more than 95 kg, must contact the company to coordinate a special jump.
- Avoid heavy food and alcoholic beverages before the jump.
- In case you cannot make the jump due to weather conditions, it is possible to keep and change the reservation for another day.
In case that you need more info or alternative activities, do not hesitate to contact us!
We look forward to receiving you in South America!!
Travel Specialist, Trips SouthAmerica.