Los Saltos del Mocona: A Guide to Argentina’s Mocona Falls
Have you ever seen a waterfall famous not for its height, but for it’s length? Los Saltos del Mocona, or the Mocona Falls, in Argentina, runs parallel with the river for nearly three kilometers, making them a truly unique geographical formation. The water from one half of the river pours down into the lower half.
The indigenous Guarani people named these powerful falls Mocona, which translates to “that which swallows everything.” And they weren’t wrong. Running the length of the river between Argentina and Brazil, the water gushes with such force that it’s as if it’s swallowing everything around it.
Los Saltos del Mocona
Argentina’s northeastern province of Misiones is filled with waterfalls, from Iguazu to countless smaller falls that dot the jungle landscape. So, out of all these waterfalls, why are the Mocona Falls worth your time? I promise, they are!
Los Saltos del Mocona are unique because they run the length of the river for to 2-3 kilometers. There’s a fault line that divides the Uruguay River. When water levels are low, the water from one half of the river falls down into the lower half of the fault line.
If the river is high, the water level of both sides of this fault line level out and the falls disappear. During dry season, the falls can reach up to 8 meters (or even more if we’re talking drought).
Our Visit to the Mocona Falls
I’m a big planner. It’s rare that I plan a trip without fully researching every detail of where I’m going. But I planned a road trip through Misiones almost by accident. A new budget airline started operating in Argentina in 2018. FlyBondi has changed my life by offering bargain basement flights in Argentina.
Leading up to Christmas in 2018, they had a 1 peso deal. You read that right, flights were 1 peso (plus taxes, of course). Taxes taken into account, flights came out to $10 US each way. I bought flights without even thinking about the dates, they were impulse buys. One of these impulse tickets was to Posadas in Misiones, which for me meant only one thing: Los Salos de Mocona (or Mocona Falls).
When to see the Saltos del Mocona
Since visibility depends on the water level, which can change from day to day, seeing these falls is never guaranteed. To see Mocona Falls, conditions have to align perfectly. The creek that feeds into the Uruguay River needs to be low enough for boats to get in to reach the dock.
Water levels will also affect how much of the falls you actually see, as these falls are famous for their length, not height. We visited at the beginning of rainy season and only got to see them at 2-3 meters in height. In the peak of dry season you may get lucky with 7-8 meters.
To allow yourself the best chance of seeing the Mocona Falls, stay in the area for at least a few days. There is a lot to do in the area and you’ll be glad for the extra time. We spent two nights here but a third would have been ideal. Read about how we spent our days in Misiones here.
How to see The Mocona Falls
The only way to see the falls is by a boat tour. They depart from the dock inside the park and from Mocona Virgen Lodge’s dock. Always check the official website here before planning your day. They update the page every morning with whether the park and/or paseo nautico (boat trip) is open or closed. It changes each day and won’t be announced until the morning of.
The boat tour cost us around the equivalent of $25 US. It lasts an hour and a half in total in a small speed boat that jets down the Uruguay River by the falls. You won’t get soaked but if you’re bringing an expensive camera it’s a good idea to have a light jacket or something to cover it from the mist when the boat gets near the falls.
Mocona Falls Accommodation
The closest town to use as a base is El Soberbio. There are a lot of cabins for all budgets here. The drive from El Soberbio to the Mocona National Park takes thirty minutes but the views are beautiful! The drives runs parallel to the river and there are a number of view points to stop at along the way. Click here to search for Mocona Falls accommodation near El Soberbio.
Mocona Virgin Lodge by DON
We stayed for two nights at the Mocona Virgin Lodge. It was a bit of a splurge for us but was well worth it. This lodge is located inside the Yabotí Biosphere Reserve, there is literally no better place to stay to see the falls. The room rate includes full board (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and activites including kayaking, zip-line, and hiking trails through the jungle.
The best part about the Virgen Lodge (aside from their tree-house-like rooms) is that the boat excursions depart from the hotel property. During our visit, the boats couldn’t reach the dock in the national park and could only depart from our hotel. As guests, we were given priority and put on the first tour.
We almost didn’t get to see the falls at all, before we arrived it had rained for days and the water levels were rising. The day after we left the water would be too high to see the falls at all. The hotel staff kept us up to date all day regarding the status of the falls and made sure we saw them. We were lucky to be there the one day it didn’t rain with visible falls. It really is just luck, this is why it’s best to stay for at least a few nights. Check availability here.
Chacra del Agua
Like the Mocona Virgin Lodge, the small cabins at Chacra del Agua are also located inside the nature reserve. They were my second choice for hotels near Mocona Falls, but I was won over by our hotel’s full board option. Chacra del Agua is a more affordable option but with the same beauty and ideal location as the Virgin Lodge. They have cabins for couples and families, so it’s great for everyone. Check availability here.
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