Iguazú Falls is the largest waterfall system in the world. It’s a chain of nearly 300 waterfalls in the Iguazú River that tumbles over the Paraná Plateau in between Argentina and Brazil. The powerful waterfalls—you can hear them long before you can see them—are surrounded by Iguazú National Park. The rainforest-covered land hides unique animals and plants. It’s now one of the most popular destinations in South America.
But most people only spend a day, two at the most, in the national park. They fly to Puerto Iguazú on the Argentina side or Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil, follow the crowded walkways overlooking the waterfalls, spend the night in a nearby hotel, and then return to Buenos Aires, São Paulo, or Rio de Janeiro the next day. They don’t see the bridge that connects Argentina and Brazil. They don’t visit the spot where the two countries meet Paraguay. And they don’t explore the jungle that was once the home of the Guaraní people.
So, once you find a modern hotel, you decide to lengthen your trip. Loi Suites Iguazú sits on the outskirts of Puerto Iguazú in Selva Iryapu La Reserva. The 1,500-acre reserve borders Iguazú National Park. While the hotel is stunning. Its five stone-clad buildings are connected by suspension bridges. They overlook a three-tiered pool that’s surrounded by rosewood trees. A bondinho (elevator) descends to a pier on the Iguazú River. Plus rugged trails wind through the jungle and the reserve.
You arrive at the hotel after its complimentary shuttle picks you up at the airport. A welcome drink and friendly service await your arrival in the elegant lobby. With its wooden floors, leather chairs, exposed beams, and small pond, the open space has a Southeast Asian vibe. That feeling is confirmed when you see Indonesian hardwood furniture in your spacious room. You upgrade to a villa for its view. You can see the river—with Brazil on the other side—from the jacuzzi on the balcony.
It would be easy to just enjoy the water—from your oversized bathtub, in the jacuzzi, and with the river view—in your villa. But, remember, you came to explore. Check out the rest of the hotel first. There’s a water circuit at the SPA Namasthé. You’ll move between a steam bath, a Scottish shower, and another jacuzzi before a pampering massage begins. A Hawaiian-themed Tiki Bar overlooks the pool. Its freshly squeezed juices will feel refreshing in the afternoon heat. Naipi, the restaurant, serves local fish, including surubí and pacu. While the trails lead to a figure of the Virgin Mary, around palo de rosa trees, and by colorful toucans. You might see butterflies, hummingbirds, or coatis, as well.
By then, you’ll be itching to see Iguazú Falls. Even though it’s crowded, you should start on the wooden balcony. It offers a panoramic view of the awe-inspiring waterfalls and quickly covers you with mist. After taking way too many pictures, you should move on, though. Follow overgrown trails and little footbridges to see high cliffs, deep canyons, and noisy monkeys. Smaller waterfalls, which you’ll probably have all to yourself, seem to pop up along the way. This is the side of Iguazú National Park that few people take the time to experience.