Guide to the Iguazu Falls – Brasil vs Argentina
Iguazu falls one of South America's naturals wonders, it is taller than Niagara Falls and twice as wide, so as you can imagine it falls into many travellers must dos. But as the falls is situated on the Argentinian and Brazilian border, you can imagine there is a battle of the sides. If you listen to the masses you will only do the Argentinian side of the falls, but my personal opinion is do both! They offer different perspectives, and if you have come all this way, why the hell not. If you still need convincing here is a breakdown of what each side offers.
Brazil – Foz do Iguaçu
Time. You only need to set aside a half day to wander around and take in the sights at all the main viewing points.
Panoramic Views. As stated before the falls are wider than Niagara so you're never going to get the whole falls in a single frame, but Brazil gives you a pretty damn close overview. Oooo and it's spectacular!
Devil's throat. This was my personal favourite, getting right up close to the Devil's throat falls, experiencing its incredible power. Be warned, you will get very wet here so be prepared. We were lucky that we timed our visit very close to closing time so we got the whole platform to ourselves, while the sun was slowly disappearing.
The town. Foz do Iguacu, is far more developed than its neighbour, providing fancier accommodation with working wifi, access to supermarkets and great restaurants. Personally I preferred my stay in Foz do Iguacu better.
From Foz do Iguacu, you will catch bus L120 from the bus terminal or from the array of bus stops along av. das Cataratas. You go via the airport before continuing to the final stop, Iguazu. The cost is $R6.40 return.
From Puerto Iguazú (Argentina). Border crossing woohoo. Beware of the costly visa fees into Brazil especially for Americans, Australians and Canadians. Head to the bus terminal and go for Rio Uruguay who runs hourly buses to the Brazilian falls, it waits for you at both borders YAY, and the last bus leaves at 17:00. Cost is around ARS80.
Some people told me if you're only visiting for the day you do not need to get off at immigration but I’m unsure how legal/true this is. We didn't do this as we stayed on both sides.
We stayed at Concept design hostel and we couldn't recommend it more, clean, modern rooms with great wifi and facilities ooo and of course a pool. Around $R45 a night per person.
Argentina – Puerto Iguazú
Time: You need a full day (or two) to see it all and walk all of its trails. Get up early so you can get the most of the opening hours.
Get up close and personal. You get to walk amongst the falls, see them from different angles and appreciate the different parts of the falls. Following the lower circuit to get close to the smaller, quieter falls. Then head to the upper circuit which allows you to see the powerful, majestic falls from the top.
Isla San Martin. Visit a small island via free boat which has two lookouts points of the falls. Note the boat ride stops around 4, so make sure you go early if you want to head across.
Devil's throat. You get the opposite view to the Brazil side, here you get to see the falls powering downward through a forever cloud of watery mist. You get an idea of the sheer scale of water that is flowing over every second.
The town. The town is what people call more ‘authentic’, a smaller town with a handful of restaurants and a more local feel. Though the wifi was spotty at best and the accommodation was far less appealing to be fair.
From Puerto Iguazú head to the bus station, there is a bus that leaves every 20-30 minutes. You will be able to tell your at the right place when you see a gathering of fellow tourists. The cost is ARS130 return.
From Foz do Iguacu (Brazil), you will need to cross the border. Busing is a the cheaper option for crossing the boarder but a taxi will be the quickest and easiest way to go. If you want to bus, catch the bus labeled Puerto Iguazu Argentina the bus will drop you off at the border for you to get your passport stamped, but it will not wait for you. So hold on to you ticket and wait for the next bus to pass by. This bus will drop you off at the Argentina bus station, here you need to follow the instructions above.
We stayed at mango chill hostel. A popular hostel amongst backpackers, it has nightly dinners from BBQ nights to pizza nights including all you can drink for an hour. There is a pool here also but unfortunately it wasn't clean when we were here. Though as I said early the accommodation was less appealing than its neighbouring side, it does the job for a couple of nights. Cost is around ARS210 per person per night.
Bonus: The animals
The falls aren't the only attraction, keep your eyes pealed for animals climbing the trees or even wondering around on the ground. You might be lucky to spot a Toucan in the tress or a monkey handing in a tree. Though be cautious of the coatis and monkeys, they may look cute when it comes to food, but they will attack a small child who has a plastic bag of food in a instant so keep your food safely zipped away in your backpack.
Helpful hints and tips
- Pack your lunch. It’s a tourist trap in there with food costing far more than usual. So grab a sandwich and some fruit/snacks in the town before heading to the falls.
- Beware of the coatis/monkeys when it comes to your food. My recommendation is; one keep your food in your backpack and two don’t eat in the food court areas as they are swarming with them, find a quiet place on the track that is coati free.
- Wear comfy shoes. Especially on the Argentinian side you walk a small marathon so you want to be able to walk the next day.
- Raincoat. Both sides you will get wet so pack your waterproof gear, this includes rain covers for your bag if possible as you don't want to get your camera or worst passport wet.
- Money. The Argentinian side especially as they don’t accept card, and though there is a ATM there, it is very likely to have no money in it.
Note. All prices were valid for June 2016, some prices may change over time.