Being one of the 7 new wonders of nature, the Iguazú waterfalls are on the bucket list of many people. Well, when something is a must-see, I’m often reluctant to go. I don’t like crowded places where everything is much more expensive than it should be. On the other hand, I always felt sorry that I didn’t make it to the Iguazú waterfalls when I lived in Brazil in the 1990’s.
So when I was in Buenos Aires in September 2017 and knew I needed to be back there at the end of November for private reasons, it was a quick decision to do kind of a round trip: Buenos Aires – Colonia del Sacramento – Montevideo – Rio Grande do Sul – Iguazú Waterfalls – Buenos Aires.
On November 15, I headed to Porto Alegre’s central bus station and boarded the bus to Foz do Iguaçu. We left punctually at 7 pm but arrived almost two hours late the next morning. Not much of a problem since I just wanted to relax on that day. I had booked an AirBnB which turned out to be a cute little studio with great wifi.
The Iguazú waterfalls are located in an area of tropical rainforest and it’s rainy season from October to March. That doesn’t mean that it rains all day long (sometimes, it does) and every day. However, if you’re not in a hurry, plan two days for the Brazilian and two days for the Argentinian side. That really increases your chances to visit the falls on a dry day.
Where to stay – Brazil or Argentina?
I had booked 3 nights in Brazil and 3 nights in Argentina but it’s not really necessary. There’s a direct bus which regularly goes from Foz do Iguaçu to Puerto Iguazú and back. There are practically no controls at the border and it’s your responsibility to get off the bus for your exit and entry stamps. A big area between Brazil and Argentina is duty-free and there’s a shopping-centre between the two countries. Or you hop to Paraguay if you’re in need of electronics.
If good internet is important for you, stay in Foz do Iguaçu. The internet in Puerto Iguazú is lousy and there are frequent blackouts, especially when it rains. It may be different when you stay at one of the bigger hotels. I was told that they usually have contracts with one of the Brazilian internet providers although that is not totally legal.
The city of Foz do Iguaçu is quite boring and not very pretty. However, there are the Bird Park and the Itaipu Dam at the Brazilian-Paraguayan border which are also worth a visit. I didn’t make it to Itaipu but visited the Bird Park. It’s situated just a few meters away from the entrance to the waterfalls park and both places can easily be visited on the same day.
Puerto Iguazú in Argentina is a typical tourist town with lots of restaurants, cafés and souvenir shops. There are also a lot of souvenir sellers from Paraguay and Argentina at the Triple Frontier plus a free water light show in the evenings. If not for the bad internet and if you only want to visit the waterfalls and possibly the Bird Park, I would recommend staying in Puerto Iguazú and taking the bus to Brazil for a day.
Do I really have to visit both parks?
For some reason, I had always associated the Iguazú waterfalls with Brazil but to be honest, the Brazilian side was a bit of a disappointment. Yes, you have the famous panoramic view you know from postcards and many internet pics. However, the park itself is rather small. Unless you book extra tours (which also cost extra), you don’t need more than two hours.
The park in Argentina is huge and absolutely beautiful. You will need the whole day to see and enjoy everything. The entrance fee is also quite a bit higher than in Brazil and you will need to pay cash in Argentine pesos while in Brazil, you can pay with a credit card. Keep this in mind when planning your trip.
So if you have little time or are on a really tight budget, visit just the park in Argentina. There’s a train which connects the most important parts of the park and there are also routes which lets you see the waterfalls from different perspectives. The most impressive waterfall is definitively the Garganta del Diablo. You look down and simply can’t see where it ends. It really deserves its name, it’s as if you were looking into the devil’s throat and the noise this fall makes is also spectacular. Impossible to describe this in words. Go there and see yourself. I assure you that you won’t regret it.
Another highlight of the Iguazú waterfalls park are the cuatís, cute animals which are running around or resting on trees and are not shy at all. Signs warn not to touch them as they may bite. Well, I don’t know but for me, it was enough just watching them.
After returning from the park, I discovered that some insects had bitten me. I made a joke about it to a friend of mine and he scared me a bit by saying: “You’re in a tropical area, you need to use a repellent. These mosquitos may transmit all kind of diseases.” Well, I visited the Iguazú waterfalls almost 4 months ago and am still alive but taking a repellent with you might nevertheless not be the worst idea.
|Lonely Planet: Argentina
||Cook like in Argentina:
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