Take your time in Iguazu Falls and spend a magical three days strolling the trails and doing activities on both the Brazilian and Argentinian side!
Iguazu Falls is a South American landmark I am sure you have heard of. As the biggest waterfall on the continent, it stands worldwide alongside Victoria Falls (Africa), Wallaman Falls (Australia), Niagra Falls (North America), and Rhine Falls (Europe). All of these falls are on D’s and my bucket list BTW. Iguazu Falls spans nearly 3 km and is 82m tall. If you are like me, those numbers mean next to nothing to you. But trust me, Iguazu deserves a spot on your bucket list.
Getting to Iguazu Falls
D and I flew to Puerto Iguazu from Buenos Aires. We were planning on bussing, because we thought that would be cheaper (and more in line with our “backpacking” travel style), but in reality, a flight was not only 13 hours less travel time, but $140 (Canadian dollars) less expensive (EACH!).
As far as (budget) places to stay, Puerto Iguazu is a bit lacking. We stayed at 125 Hotel and it was clean and offered free breakfast and wasn’t a ridiculous amount of money. That’s about all I can say for it however, but really what more do you need (I say this, but I also ideally need a comfy bed and good coffee. But again, this doesn’t always fit the whole “backpacker vibe”, and travelling teaches you to make sacrifices…lol). BUT!!! I would have slept in a Styrofoam cooler under a bridge if it was the only way to see Iguazu Falls.
One can visit Iguazu Falls from both Brazil and Argentina. As I have mentioned, we were based on the Argentinian side. I personally feel that this is a better place to stay, as there are bussed available both to the Argentinian side, and straight through to the Brazilian side (there are not buses directly to the Argentinian Falls from Foz de Iguazu – the Brazilian waterfall port).
Busses from Puerto Iguazu to the Argentinian side of the falls cost $150 (Argentinian Pesos – about $10 Canadian) per person (including return trip), and run every half hour starting at 7:20am. The journey takes about 45min each way. The bus station in Puerto Iguazu is very user-friendly, we just walked (a block from our hotel), up to the station and bought our tickets on the spot from Rio Uruguay.
Busses from Puerto Iguazu to the Brazilian Side of the falls also are super easy to book from the Puerto Iguazu bus station. We again travelled with Rio Uruguay. Round trip tickets for this trip cost $80 (Argentinian Pesos per person – $5 CAD), and busses leave every hour starting at 8:30am. This trip does involve crossing a border, and you do have to go through immigration twice (to leave Argentina, and to enter Brazil – and vice versa on the return journey). IMPORTANT: CANADIANS TRAVELLING TO BRAZIL NEED TO HAVE A VISA! This can be obtained from the Brazilian consulate website, but you have to apply AT LEAST 5 days before your trip. Overall, the trip takes about 1-1.5 hours.
Exploring the Falls: Argentina and Brazil
A debate that D and I have been having since our visit is: which side of the falls is better. We have talked to a lot of travellers, all of whom have different opinions. After much consideration, we have very diplomatically decided that they are equally great for very different reasons.
We spent 2 days exploring the falls on the Argentinian side. There are a lot more trails in this park, as well as a train that takes you to the largest, most dramatic part of the falls Garganta Del Diablo (Devil’s Throat). We did the train to Devils Throat, along with the Lower Trail on Day 1. On day two, we walked the Upper Trail and did a boat ride up the river and literally under the falls.
Note: the Argentinian side of the falls can TOTALLY be done in one day. We just had just been super lazy in the mornings (after travelling 5 months already, in 5 different time zones), and had a bit of a later start. However, two days does give you a leisurely amount of time to hit all the trails (several kilometres!). Fortunately, if you get your ticket validated at the ticket booths when you are leaving the falls, the next day entrance is half price!
We started by taking the train out to the Devils Throat viewing deck. The train is included in the price of the park ticket. After a short stroll along a boardwalk, tWe spent our second day walking the Upper Trail, admiring the wildlife of the park, and boating under the falls.
On our third day, we ventured to the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls. We actually started our time on the other side at the bird sanctuary– Parque des Aves – right across the street from the entrance to the Foz de Iguazu Park. This was kind of cool, but a bit of a rip off money-wise. I did however get to see my first ever toucan, which I was pretty excited about. After 2 days exploring the Argentinian side of the falls, we were pretty skeptical that the Brazilian could top what we had already seen. But like I have said, you really can’t even compare the two. The Brazilian side offers amazing panoramic views of the whole falls! We feel it was a perfect summary to our days in awe of Iguazu.
I think that in order to really experience everything Iguazu Falls has to offer, you have to visit both sides. You just have to!