After three full days of hitchhiking and wild camping our way from Buenos Aires, we arrived at Puerto Iguazú exhausted but excited to see the famous Igauzú Falls.
Travelling over a year meant we had seen our fair share of waterfalls but with over 275 falling cascades, taller and wider than Niagara Falls, how could we not get a little pumped up for a visit to the Misiones Province? So we remained positive and believed that the long line of gushing waters, perfectly aligned in between Argentina and Brazil, wouldn’t disappoint.
Also, the fact that we had been city hopping our way through Chile and Argentina, we were in urgent need of some fresh air, lush green surroundings and a taste of the Amazon, so relied heavily on Iguazú to give us nature junkies the fix we needed.
Did it work?
Well, let’s just say that not only did the Iguazú Falls get a major thumbs up from us but it was also my personal highlight of Argentina, a day out that I cannot recommend enough.
Table of Contents
From Puerto Iguazú to Iguazú Falls:
From the town of Puerto Iguazú, the cheapest bus option is the Rio Uruguay public bus which leaves every 20 minutes from the Terminal Omnibus on
Services start at 7.30am and cost $150 (€6) return. If you are close to Avenida Victoria Aguirre, you can catch the bus at any of the stops along the main avenue. Flag down the buses with ‘Cataracas’ displayed on the front.
Note that you can only pay for a single ticket if you jump on the bus from the street but at the same price of $75peso (€3) for a single journey, so it makes no difference either way. The bus takes only 20 minutes to reach the Iguazu Falls entrance.
A Few Iguazú Falls Tips:
#1 Beat The Crowds
The Iguazú Falls is open from 8.00am – 4.30pm. We suggest arriving before 10am (at least) to beat the crowds and have the opportunity to find some moments of privacy as you hike through.
Ideally, jumping on the 7.30am bus means top of the line and a decent head start.
#2 Entry, Exit and Info
It costs $500 (€20) per person to enter the park. Free maps are available from inside the Visitor Centre. After you pass the gates, follow the path until you see the building on the right-hand side.
If you need one there is an ATM at the Falls entrance. Additional fees cost $119 (€5) per withdrawal and not all international cards will work.
There is also a tourist information desk before the main train station ‘Estacion central’ should you need it.
If you plan to revisit the Falls for a second day out, as you exit Iguazú swing by the ticket office and stamp your current ticket. This allows entry the following day for half the price but you will need to flash some I.D.
#3 Lunch It Up
As you would expect the prices within the Iguazú Falls gates are hiked high, tempting the tourist to spend a small fortune.
Be sure to pack a lunch as you will only find fast food joints with unworthy prices. Prep a decent-sized lunch as well as some snacks to munch on along the route.
There is no need to buy water there. Instead, bring a bottle and fill up using any of the drinkable taps found all around the park. Don’t worry, it is safe to drink!
There is a perfect little outdoor area for eating but watch out for hungry coatis. The cheeky chappies look like a cross between a monkey, a raccoon and an anteater. They run around freely and may disturb your eating for a nibble so mind your food, and belongings and don’t provoke them. They can scratch and bite.
While the $500 entry fee includes a small boat trip to San Andres island, to avail of any additional adventure you will need to splash out, literally.
The Gran Aventura starts with a quick 4×4 ride through the jungle before heading to the port on foot for a 15-minute race through and under the waterfalls, on a speed boat. At the price of $1,200 (€48), it was an insane cost for us so we decided to opt-out. What we will admit is that out of all the “extras” available, this is the one everyone talks about. A highly rated ride!
If you do go for the spin and splash bring a change of clothes as you will be drenched! There are complimentary waterproof bags available for any personal belongings.
Other add-ons include the ‘Off Road Jungle’ jaunt. A chance to ride “off track” in a 4×4 before taking a short hike through the thick jungle to spot some animals.
Don’t get us wrong it does all sound fun, especially the Gran Aventura, but it is not something we regret missing out on. Especially the jungle tour as there are far better opportunities to visit the Amazon for much cheaper.
#5 Storage and Transfer
We wondered if it was possible to visit Iguazú Falls and then cross into Brazil on the same day, avoiding the cost of another night’s accommodation.
Despite some online research, we were still unsure and slightly reluctant to drag our backpacks there. So we stayed the extra night in Puerto Iguazú and took the time to investigate whether it is possible.
The good news is that there are lockers available in different sizes including one big enough to fit say a 60 ltr backpack.
Unfortunately, we failed to find the exact storage prices but we imagine it to vary and roughly starting around $250 (€10).
With bags in hand, grab the 7.30am bus departing Puerto Iguazù to arrive at Iguazú Falls at 8am. Store the bags and set off for a few hours of sunshine and fresh brisk walks.
It is possible to explore all the walking circuits, avail of the free boat trip, enjoy some lunch and still make it across to Foz do Iguaçu by evening. However, if you wish to opt in for all the “extras” we mentioned above then you might be cutting it. In that case, it makes sense to visit the Falls across two days.
Even if you do decide to remain in the park until closing time, it is still possible to make it across the border once you don’t mind arriving after sunset.
Done and dusted with a day of chasing waterfalls, exit the park, grab your bags and jump the Rio Uruguay bus back to the Puerto Iguazú bus terminal.
From the Terminal Omnibus the main bus companies are Rio Uruguay, Crucero del Norte and Itaipu who have buses leaving at least every half hour to Foz do Iguaçu.
The bus costs $25 (€1.25) and should only take 2 hours, including two immigration stops.
It takes 10 minutes to reach the Argentina border where you will need to stamp out of the country. Board the bus again (it will wait for you) and you will soon arrive at the Brazilian border.
This time you will need to take your bags and queue a little so the bus won’t wait for you. Make sure the driver hands you a receipt so you can jump the next passing bus.
Fill out the visa forms provided and expect a swift and painless crossing. Once stamped, cross over to the nearby bus stop and wait. Note that you can only board the same company bus as your current ticket.
It only takes another 20 minutes or so on the Frontera to Foz do Iguaçu town.
Welcome to Brazil.
The Iguazú Falls Walking Routes:
Now, let’s talk about walking routes and how to make the most of the extremely large and lengthy national park.
It might sound repetitive but again arriving as the park opens is best so you can have the entire day to take your time as well as beat the queues.
Usually, tourists will head straight to the train to queue up. We’re not into crowded areas and so if you have arrived as the park opens, skip the train and enjoy the short walk to the start of the circuits. This will set your day off to a nice peaceful start as you find yourself alone in one of Argentina’s most popular tourist attractions.
The Upper and Lower Circuit trails offer completely different perspectives of the Iguazú Falls. I could go into such wonderful detail by pouring the electrifying feel as I stood among the thundering wonders into words. But you’re here for the information so let’s keep this short and sweet.
The Upper Circuit:
The Upper circuit “Circuito Superior” is roughly an hour, about a mile or so long and the shortest trail. It is a nice easy introduction to the waterfalls, at first sight, they’re extremely impressive but the fun element is knowing the best has yet to come.
Instead the Upper Circuit is exactly what you would expect, a trail that runs along the top of the waterfalls. It ends where the lower circuit begins, making it the perfect start to the day.
The Lower Circuit:
The Lower Circuit allows you to get up, close, and personal (and wet!) as you walk the trail along the base of the waterfalls. The trail itself takes about two hours but that depends on you and how many stops and how long you spend at each lookout point. It is possible to do this in an hour and enjoy the same sights as all, maybe even with fewer elbows and shoves from the ever-annoying tourists.
There are a number of lookout areas so you can marvel at the likes of Dos Hermanas including one where you have the chance to get up close and personal with Bosetti. Cooling splash-backs included.
Free Boat Ride:
Both circuits lead back to the train station which is where you will see signs pointing towards the small boat trip to San Andres island. But heads up! It could be closed depending on the time of year, weather and/or river levels. For us, unfortunately, it was closed due to high river levels but if it is open, catch it before it closes at 3.15pm.
The Devil’s Throat:
Once you have finished both circuits, it’s time for the main attraction.
Head back to station Cataracas and take the free tourist train to Estacion Diablo. The last train from Cataracas to Diablo station leaves at 4.10pm so take your time knowing that the later you visit, the fewer tourists. Although, don’t expect a second to yourself there. It’s almost always packed with selfie-shoving visitors.
The train is slow and so takes around 15 minutes. Following the short train ride is a beautiful 20-minute bridge walk across the river. And at the end lies the best bit.
The Devil’s Throat.
A noisy combination of falls together thrusting with brute force to create a whimsical smoke-like mist.
The tourists are harsh here, demanding photos, shoving their way in and forever standing in between shots. However, be patient. Wait for a break and claim your spot. Enjoy some time here, again, the later you visit the less busy it is.
The train from Diablo back to the Central station doesn’t leave until 5pm so make the most of it here. The large platform covers a variety of angles where you can peer into what we are convinced is the entrance to Never Never Land.
We didn’t make it to the Brazil side so unfortunately cannot comment on the age-old debate and question of ‘Which side is better?’.
But whatever you do decide most definitely take the time to visit the Argentina side. The fact it takes longer to explore this side proves there are far more views to offer.
Also, if you have yourself visited Foz do Iguaçu and have any info you feel our readers will benefit from, please do get in touch! We would really appreciate it.
Happy splashing, lads!