Is Iguazu Falls Wheelchair Accessible? The Argentine Side Certainly Is!
This is most certainly not the blog post I imagined writing for Iguazu Falls. But when Sarah, a friend I had met in Ecuador and been travelling with ever since took a fall in Buenos Aires and ended up on crutches, we suddenly had to work out just how we could work around her temporary disability and visit Iguazu Falls.
I’ve got to admit that when I first started to investigate just how we might manage to visit the National Park without her absolutely killing her ankle, I wasn’t feeling very optimistic about our options.
Luckily, we were pleasantly surprised and can attest to the fact that provided you have someone willing to push you around, most the Argentine side of the Falls are completely accessible to those in a wheelchair. We never made it to the Brazilian side so I can’t comment on how accessible that side might be. But from everything we have heard the Argentine side is superior so you don’t have to miss out on experiencing this natural wonder just because you happen to be in a wheelchair.
We began our day with a very short walk to the bus station from our hostel in Puerto Iguazu, the main access point for the Argentine side of the Falls. From here it is super easy and cheap to pick up a local bus to take you right to the park. Buses leave around every half an hour, cost 5 pesos and take about twenty minutes to reach the park. There is also a bakery and shop right next to the bus station that we stopped at to pick up some lunch.
Upon arriving at the park, we headed straight to the information booth advertising assistance for those with special needs. And just like that for the rest of the day the park staff helped us in every possible way to ensure that we could see as much of the park as possible.
The Argentine side of the Falls is a huge area and to get between many of the main sites and the main gate you need to hop onto a small train. The first way we were assisted by the park staff was a ride on a golf cart from the main gate to the little train station. This was great because at that point it was raining and we also get to skip straight past the line of people waiting for the train. That was a theme for the rest of the day. As soon as the staff at the train stations saw us rock up in the wheelchair or the crutches they would bring us to the front of the line and we’d be put in the first carriage, reserved for those with special needs.
Is Iguazu Falls Wheelchair Accessible?- The Devil’s Throat
We headed straight to the Devil’s Throat train station first. We wanted to head to this super popular spot before the crowds got too large. After arriving at the station, the park staff provided us with a wheelchair outfitted for the tracks and terrain of the Falls. It was essentially a garden chair with huge off-road looking wheels on it. I then had the fun task of navigating the crowds on the 1.1km trail to the Devil’s Throat. I gave more than a few people terrible looks when they got too close to the wheelchair and nearly (and sometimes did).
And we even bumped into some little friends along the way.
When we finally made it down the trail to the Devil’s Throat we were both so relieved that the accessiblity of the park meant that we could visit. I’ve visited my fair share of waterfalls but nothing compares to Iguazu Falls and the Devil’s Throat was our first glimpse of how spectacular they were. The rushing sound of all that water was breathtaking and even with our ponchos we got more than a little wet from the spray. The benefit of having a wheelchair was that we could push through the crowds to the front and take lots of happy snaps and videos of this natural wonder.
Is Iguazu Falls Wheelchair Accessible? The Upper Trail
Iguazu Falls is not just one waterfall but a series of waterfalls. Devil’s Throat is one of the most impressive parts, but there was still more to see. So we headed back down the trail towards the train station where we got on the ecological forest train to the next trail head. From the main station of Cataratas there are two main trails you can take; the Upper and Lower Trail.
We started with the Upper Trail because it was more accessible. We were able to make our way around the whole 1.8km circuit with the wheelchair as there were no stairs to navigate. The only difficulty was that some of the circuit had inclines and it was a little exhausting at times. But if you have reasonable fitness it will be fine (NOTE: I’m incredibly unfit). The Upper Trail took us through the rainforest and past lots of beautiful little waterfalls that all flow down from the Devil’s Throat the top. I must have taken hundreds of photos of the beautiful scenery.
Is Iguazu Falls Wheelchair Accessible? The Lower Trail
But the Lower Trail was my favourite. Navigating this trail by wheelchair was a little more difficult. Half of the trail has stairs so isn’t accessible by wheelchair. We ended up having to take a backtrack down a hill to meet the trail halfway. Because of the steepness of this trail it wasn’t permitted to take anyone down whilst in the wheelchair so Sarah got a lovely ride on a golf cart while I slowly walked the empty wheelchair down the hill. From here we could access half of the Lower Trail which included some really great spots. The waterfalls that we viewed from down here were much larger and majestic. They were my favourites because they weren’t the crazy rush of the Devil’s Throat but also large enough to look incredible.
Is Iguazu Falls Wheelchair Accessible? The Boat Ride Unfortunately is Not.
The one part of the trip to the Falls I had to do myself was the boat ride. The walk down to the boats requires going up and down a series of stairs, and you aren’t allowed on the boat if you have a physical injury. So Sarah hung out at the top of the trail while I went down to experience the boat ride and take enough photos for the both of us. The walk there took me past some really beautiful vantage points as well!
Arriving at the boat you are immediately given a dry bag and warned that you will get absolutely saturated while on the boat. I hadn’t been smart enough to bring a bathing suit like some people but I did take most of my layers and my pants off and just put my long rain coat on. The boat trip is a fast exhilirating rush around a few of the falls. They intentionally dump you straight into the middle of most of those falls so you basically get hundreds of litres of water poured on you. Be warned that you are going to go home very wet. But it was so much fun and worth the uncomfortable boat road back.
After I met Sarah back on the trail we were pretty much finished with our exploration of the park. We ended back to the train station and took the second last train of the day back to the main gate and got our courtesy ride on the golf cart again.
The day at Iguazu Falls was one of my favourite days in Argentina and I was so happy to discover just how accessible it was!