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Iguassu or Victoria Falls: which is right for you?

Written by
Emily Opie, Jennifer Richt, Byron Thomas & Jonny Humphreys

Iguassu Falls and Victoria Falls are two of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world. Both immense spectacles of nature, these natural wonders draw in visitors all year round.

Though they both provide plenty in terms of adventure and romance, Iguassu Falls is perfect for birdwatchers and nature lovers. In the heart of Southern Africa, Victoria Falls is the go-to destination for Big Five spotting and a touch of history.

To ease decision fatigue, our expert travel designers have put together this guide to help you decide whether to choose Iguassu Falls or Victoria Falls.

The Zambezi River and Victoria Falls

Which waterfall is bigger?

Both of these impressive natural wonders are situated on the border of enormous countries, so their scale is massive. Iguassu Falls straddles the border between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay while Victoria Falls lies between Zambia and Zimbabwe. There’s no easy answer to which waterfall is bigger; Iguassu Falls is wider, with 275 falls cascading across a width of 2, 700 metres.

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The width of Victoria Falls is still impressive at 1,700 metres, but Zambia and Zimbabwe house just five falls in total. Ultimately, it’s Victoria Falls that is officially dubbed the ‘largest waterfall in the world,’ though, as it’s home to the largest curtain of falling water in the world, with 550,000 cubic metres of water rushing by every minute.

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Which waterfall has the better wildlife?

Set between two major African safari destinations, Victoria Falls has truly wild surrounds. With Botswana a stone’s throw away too, any trip to Victoria Falls is sure to be rife with incredible African wildlife. The waterfall itself is located on the Zambezi River, which is a hotspot for hippo and crocodile sightings. Few safari experiences beat watching the hippos play in the river below as you dine on Livingstone Island.

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Although few places on Earth can rival Africa’s wildlife, Iguassu Falls’ surroundings do a pretty good job. Nestled in the heart of a flourishing landscape of jungle and tropical nature, a trip to see the waterfall is perfectly complemented with a trip into the neighbouring Misiones Rainforest. Here, travellers can wander amongst the lush land on nature walks, spotting up to a phenomenal 500 different bird species. Whichever waterfall you choose, the opportunities to spot wildlife are endless.

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Which is better for adventure travellers?

From zip-lining in Costa Rica to scaling Machu Picchu, Latin America is home to an infinite amount of activities for adrenaline junkies, and Iguassu Falls is no different. One of our favourite activities here is the Gran Aventura boat ride. The boat heads up to the very edge of the falls, getting passengers up close to the whirlpools, waves and chutes at the waterfall’s base. A trip to the Devil’s Throat – the Falls’ largest flow of water – is one of the standout features of this adrenaline-inducing voyage. This exceptional journey has an age restriction of twelve years old, so if you’re travelling with young children, it might be best to seek out adventure in Africa instead.

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Beyond the expected close up encounters with Big Five, thrill seekers in Africa are guaranteed to get their kicks at Victoria Falls. There’s plenty of hair raising activities to choose from – white water rafting, swimming on the edge of the cascades at Devil’s Pool and bungee jumping off Victoria Falls Bridge are just some of the options available. Although it’s a close competition, the best waterfall for adventure travellers depends largely on what type of travellers you are.

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Beyond the waterfalls

Aside from incredible waterfalls and opportunities for adventure, both Africa and Latin America have a wealth of other things to offer. To experience Victoria Falls in true luxury, travellers can enjoy a luxury train ride on the Zambian side of the Falls. The refined five-star luxury locomotive Rovos Rail transports passengers from Pretoria to Victoria Falls in true yesteryear elegance. With a stay on nearby Livingstone Island, travellers can then delve into the history of the region. In Livingstone town, history buffs can visit the local museum to gain an insight into one of the world’s finest explorers, Dr. David Livingstone.

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At Iguassu Falls, the luxurious Awazi Iguazu offers plenty of opportunity for relaxation. Situated on the banks of the river just 15 minutes from the famous waterfalls, there are 14 spacious villas sat on stilts here, all spread amongst the jungle. Each villa comes with its own plunge pool, outdoor shower and large living area, so guests can kick back and relax after a day of exploring the Falls. There’s plenty of options for both active and laid-back travellers alike; guests can choose from visiting archeological sites, trekking through jungle, bird watching or taking a boat ride for a sunset picnic.  

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Feeling inspired? Our expert travel designers are always on hand to help you make the most out of the world's best waterfalls.

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