Located on the border of Brazil and Argentina. Iguazu Falls is the biggest waterfall system on the planet, with over 270 mesmerising drops. The border of the two countries cuts straight through the Iguazu River slicing the Wonder in two. On the right bank is the Brazilian territory,. Which has just over twenty percent of the jumps and falls, and on the left side is the far bigger Argentine territory, which makes up the other eighty percent. Given UNESCO world heritage status in 1984 and 1987, Iguazu truly is one of the natural wonders of our planet and a must see if you are in this part of the world.
Getting to Puerto Iguazu
Located in the North East corner of Argentina, the falls are in the beautiful province of Misiones. Iguazu is accessible only by a long haul bus ride of many hours, or by the easier option of flying. Unfortunately, Puerto Iguazu is not an easy place to reach. Puerto Iguazu is the name of the town on the argentine side. However keep in mind that if you are arriving on the brazilian side, you will be staying in Foz do Iguaçu.
Standing on the brazilian side of the Iguazu river, looking at Salto Bossetti
Arrive by Bus
If you are not in a hurry you could take the slower but cheaper option of the tourist buses. For anybody who has not travelled in South America, the tourist buses are state of the art double-decker buses which travel the length of the continent. Buses from Buenos Aires depart regularly from Retiro station with the average journey taking around 18 hours.
Arrive by Flight
We chose to fly to Iguazu, paying in total 350$ for a return flight from Buenos Aires (the capital of Argentina) to Iguazu Airport. Flying takes only 1 hour and forty minutes.
For those that decide to fly, once you have landed you will grab your luggage and be walking out of the building before you know it. Iguazu Airport is a tiny place, only really here to bring tourists to the falls. As soon as you walk out into the arrivals hall you will be met by the local Taxi drivers offering fares of 350 Pesos for the 17 kilometer journey to Puerto Iguazu. If you are travelling on a budget there is another option. In the arrival hall there is a kiosk called Four Tourist Travel. They provide a bus which will take you to the town for 120 Pesos per person. They also provide a pick up service to take you back to the airport. Ask at your Hotel/Hostel the day before you leave and they will book you a place.
Another view of Salto Bossetti
When you first arrive
On your journey from the Airport, or when you arrive by bus you will stop at a small building by the side of the road. Here you will be asked to pay 25 Pesos for an Eco ticket. This small fee helps to protect and maintain the area and also funds services in the local town. Keep your ticket on you at all times because you may be asked to show it at various intervals.
Whether it is a 5 star hotel you are looking for or a backpackers hostel, you will not be short of accommodation in Puerto Iguazu. Beautiful hotels line the main road leading into town, but if you are after a cheaper option you should stay in the town itself.
Situated just a couple of blocks from the main bus station, Nomads Hostel Iguazu is a cool little budget place to stay. Clean, safe and if you are travelling alone a great place to meet fellow travellers to chill and make friends with. They also offer an unlimited free breakfast to fill you up for the day ahead.
Nomads Hostel Iguazu
Choosing which side to see
So you have decided to visit Iguazu. Now you need to decide whether you want to see both sides or just the one. Many people choose to just see the argentine side because of the hassle of acquiring a Visa for Brazil. If you are South American or a UK citizen like we are, this will not be a problem. If not, check to see what the Visa rules are for your nationality before you go. Even though the brazil side is a lot smaller, taking only a few hours to see, it is still definitely worth the visit. They also offer helicopter rides over the falls. The argentine side takes a full day to see, offering a lot more views, falls and activities. If it is possible you should definitely visit both parks, each is spectacular in their own right.
We will start with the brazilian side, as that is the side that we visited first. We landed at 11am, caught the bus to our Hostel and at noon we set off to the local bus station. When we arrived we were told the next bus leaves at 12:30. We bought our tickets with Rio Uruguay Transport, costing only 40 pesos each way. Buses run frequently to the brazilian side, one leaving every hour. We boarded the bus and within ten minutes we were at the Argentine border, stamped out and painlessly heading across the bridge and into Brazil. On the other side of the bridge is Brazilian Immigration. Again, quick as a flash you are stamped into Brazil and on your way to the park. The journey from the border to the park entrance takes 20 minutes, first stopping at the Parque das Aves, a bird Zoo.
Hiking along the cliffs of Brazil
Entrance to the park
The Entrance fee for the brazilian side is 64 Real, or 20 US Dollars. The park opening hours are from 9am until 5pm. Once you have bought your ticket you will enter the park and jump onto an open top bus. This will take you into the park and drop you at Trilha das Cataratas, the only hotel in the park. Where the argentine side of the river is all about getting up close and personal to the falls. The Brazilian side is about the breathtaking panoramic views. From here you will take the beautiful 1200 meter trail along the cliffs to see the waterfalls spilling out of the argentine jungle, down into the river below.
As you walk along the trail you will see many Coati wandering around searching for food. A member of the Racoon family, be careful with these cute looking creatures. If they think you have food they will bite.
At the end of the trail you will come to the base of the Devil’s Throat. Shaped like an upside down letter J. The waters come roaring down from the top of the cliffs painting the valley below with stunning rainbow filled views.
A view of the brazilian side of the Devil’s Throat
After the Devil’s Throat it is a short walk back up to the main road. Here you will catch an open top bus which will take you back to the park entrance. Or if you are still feeling energetic after the falls, you can also take the Poço Preto Trail, a 5.5 mile (9 kilometer) walk, that leads down through the forest to the water’s edge. This is not an easy walk. If you are not completely comfortable climbing up and down hills, do not go.
The brazilian view of the Devil’s Throat
A few of the other activities that are available are boat rides, rafting, jungle hiking and fishing.
To catch the bus back to Argentina, wait at the stop where you were dropped off when you arrived. This is right outside the park entrance so you will not get lost. From here you will be taken back across the border with the same comfortable ease and dropped back in Puerto Iguazu.
To reach the park entrance you will again head to the local bus station and from there catch a bus. The Argentine opening hours are a little longer than Brazil’s. Open from 8am till 6pm. Buses to the argentine entrance also run more frequently than those that go to Brazil. One leaving every twenty minutes in the morning. You will pay 65 pesos one way. Not having to pass through any borders this time, you will be at the park entrance in twenty-five minutes.
A view from the Upper Circuit
The entrance fee for the argentine side is 500 Pesos, 30 US Dollars. This side is a lot bigger, with a lot more trails and activities to fill your day. The park itself is fairly well-organized, with different colour codes for each circuit. There is also a free train line that you can take from the main entrance to the start of the circuits.
Green – Sendero Verde
Sendero Verde is a short 600 meter walk through the jungle, which connects the entrance to the beginning of the main walks. Here you will get a chance to see your first glimpses of the Coati’s.
Blue – Lower Circuit
The lower circuit offers the best views of the waterfalls with eight designated lookouts along the trail, including the lookouts at Dos Hermanos and Salto Bossetti. It is on this circuit where you can catch a free ferry to San Martin Island. You can also pay to ride a speedboat to the base of one of the falls. Just remember that you will get wet.
Getting up close and personal with the falls
Red – Upper Circuit
The Upper Circuit is 1750 meters long and takes you along the upper rim of the waterfalls and allows you to look out over the edge of the waterfalls. At one point, the walkway stretches out onto the Rio Iguazu (river). Here you can get a general scale of the sheer size of this mighty river. On this upper walk there is also a chance to see crocodiles resting on the banks, so keep an eye out.
Yellow – Isla San Martin
Isla San Martin is accessible by a free ferry. The Island has two main lookouts to different sides of the falls. It is also a great place to see the 450 species of birds that call this place home. Also lookout for the Eagles which soar high above the raging waters.
Orange 1 – Sendero Macuco
The Sendero Macuco trail is a great little hike you through the rainforest, which ends up at the Arrechea waterfall. Taking a hike along this trail is a good way to get away from the crowds. This is a 7 km return on an easy path filled with the nature of Iguazu. When you arrive it is also possible to swim beneath the fall, so do not forget to take your swimsuit.
A slideshow from the top of the Devil’s Throat
Orange 2 – Garganta Del Diablo
Garganta Del Diablo (The Devil’s Throat) is accessible only by the park train. This is the No. 1 attraction in the park. Take the walkway stretching 1 kilometer across the beautiful Iguazu River, looking out for fish, turtles, birds and butterflies until you arrive at the main horseshoe of the falls, the Devil’s Throat, where the roar of the water is incredible and the spray fills the air with rainbows. See the slideshow above.
Dos Hermanos, the Two Brothers
Other incredible activities that this side of the falls has to offer is the Iguazu Jungle Experience. This is a company which offers trips which include the highly recommended boat excursions into the heart of the falls and trips down the river. They also offer 4X4 off-road trips through the park jungle. However you will have to pay extra for these and the prices can soon add up.
At various points in the Park you will find restaurants, even a Subway. These can get a little pricey though. The better option is to bring a packed lunch, just make sure that the Coati do not smell your food, they will surround you if they do.
A few Pictures of some Coati’s, and Silvana being a little softy
When leaving the park, you can catch a bus back to Puerto Iguazu right outside the entrance, just show your return ticket and they will take you straight back into town. There is a special show room for Rio Uruguay connected to the main park building which is impossible to miss. Wait here for your bus.
Tips for eating out in Puerto Iguazu
There are many bars and restaurants in the town, the two main streets being Avenida Córdoba and Avenida Brasil.
Before getting on your bus to one of the parks you might want to go to the bakery which is on the corner next to the bus station. Filled with both savory and sweet things this is a great place to stock up on some nibbles for the parks.
If you are looking for a great place to eat in the evening, head over to Avenida Brasil to the markets. There you will find shops selling salamis, cheeses, wine and many other delicious delicacies. Find Barraca de Mirian, a restaurant in the Market and order a Picada, a plate of different cheeses and meats, you will not be disappointed.
We hope that you have a great time visiting this Wonder of the World and that you found our Guide helpful. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask. Send us an email and we will try to help in any way we can.
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