Iguazu Falls should be on the list of places to visit for Argentina or Brazil! The falls at Iguazu are twice as large as the Niagara Falls, and the parks surrounding them host a variety of animals.
Iguazu falls – three countries
The falls are located on the border between Argentina and Brazil. The border with Paraguay is in the same area. The passport stamp collectors amongst you will have a field day when going around the falls. And the lovers of waterfalls will not know where to start looking first.
Getting to the Iguazu Falls
I took an Aerolineas Argentinas (SkyTeam) flight from Buenos Aires (EZE) to Iguazu (IGR). The flight cost was about $260 all included. Flight time is close to 2 hours.
The weather in Iguazu can be pretty bad, you might often find this route having delays. On the day I flew there, it was pouring rain, so we left and arrived a bit later than announced. We landed in the rain, and it was a pretty foggy area. But the change of scenery from the busy city to this green forest is worth it.
Consider yourself warned
Wherever you go in the parks of Iguazu falls, on both sides of the border, you will meet Coati (Quatis). These little animals look uber cute. Many tourists found out the hard way that they can bite pretty hard when they’re seeking food. Keeping a distance, despite their cuteness, is how to behave. The Iguazu National Park is known for aggressive animals, but tourists seem to ignore.
Tourists are constantly taking pictures of these guys. But they are pretty aggressive, and do bite! Ignorance can ruin a visit to Iguazu Falls.
Visiting Iguazu Falls: the Argentina side and the Brazil Side
I went to see both sides of the falls. I visited the Argentina side first, and later the Brazil side. There is so much to see that I decided to do both trips on a different day.
The Argentina side of the Iguazu Falls has access to the top, middle, and bottom of the falls. Some boats that bring you close. You will need the best of a day to see all the angles and falls on this side. The boat ride was, however, a bit too wet for someone carrying quite a few cameras and no waterproof bag.
The Brazil side has way fewer walking paths, but it’s the best place to get an overall view of all the falls at once. The Argentina side of Iguazu falls allows for better panoramic views and shots.
Stay in Iguazu Brazil or Iguazu Argentina?
The village on the Argentinean side is a rather small, and considerable safe town. Don’t expect much of nightlife. I found a very cute hotel a block away from the main road. With the amount of rain here, getting away from the town center requires boots: the roads are not paved and the least bit of rain turns them to mud.
The Brazilian place, Foz do Iguaçu, is a large city. The criminality in the Brazilian side turned out to be much more present than in the Argentian Puerto Iguazú.
The border with Uruguay seems to attract a lot of (drugs) trafficking between Paraguay and Brazil. So, I choose to find a hotel on the Argentian side, in Puerto Iguazu. You can have a look at my review of Hotel Tupa in Puerto Iguazu.
Puerto Iguazu, Argentina
Puerto Iguazú is a frontier city in the province of Misiones, Argentina. The village of Puerto Iguazu is pretty small. The tourism industry, serving the demand for accommodation to see the falls, has taken over this town. When you enter from the Argentina side, you’ll notice several small supermarkets. Coming in from Buenos Aires, the prices are about the same.
When you stay in Puerto Iguazu, you can take the bus to the falls. There is a bus every 30 minutes. The bus stop in front of the supermarket “eos”, across the street. The “collectivo” will get you to the falls for 50 pesos. At the bus station, you’ll be approached by taxi drivers, offering to bring you to the falls. At my first trip there, if found 3 other people willing to go there. We offered the cab driver 50 pesos each, and he agreed to bring us to the falls. That saved us some time, at the same cost if we would have been on the bus.
Iguazu Falls admission rates are not cheap. It’s ARS170 / $34 entrance and another ARS150 / US$30 to ride the boat that brings you to the falls if you like going that close.
Foz do Iguaçu – State of Paraná, Brazil
The Brazilian side of the border is a different story. When talking to people here, it seemed this part of the border had way more crimes than the Argentina side. The city is many times bigger than the Argentina side (80,000 people on the Argentina side, compared to 260,000 on the Brazilian side), and its border with Paraguay attracts more criminality.
The views of the falls in Brazil differ greatly from what I experienced in Argentina.
When you are traveling and in need of cash: There is an HSBC here, that seemed to be the only ATM in the three border cities that took my US Debit Card.
You’ll be out another $22 to enter the Brazilian side of the falls.
Ciudad del Este, Paraguay
Three borders, eight stamps
I of course wanted to see the Paraguay side, so went there one morning. When you are willing to do the same, make sure you have 2 empty pages in the passport, and this will add 8 stamps.
- When leaving Argentina, the Argentinean border agent stamps my exit stamp in my passport.
- A little bit further, a stamp for entering Brazil is added.
- Approaching the Paraguay border, Brazil stamps my exit.
- The Paraguay agent makes sure to leave a mark as well.
- On the way out of Paraguay, I’m entitled to the exit stamp here.
- So I enter back into Brazil, and here comes stamp number 6.
- Driving back to the hotel, I get to the Brazil-Argentina border and I get the Brazil exit.
- And last but not least, entering Argentina is the last of 8 stamps: two pages in a passport for a day trip.
Koen Blanquart is a strategy consultant, journalist, and author.
Wanderlust is one of his driving factors, and he shares his travels here on Boarding Today. Koen is also the skipper of SV Bagabonda, a sailing vessel making a slow circumvention of the globe..
Koen recently published a book on how to manage a remote team: The Suitcase Office.