Iguaçu Falls is one of the most naturally beautiful spots on earth that I have ever visited. As a lover of waterfalls it was always to be expected that I’d love this place but it really was even more breathtaking than I imagined.
Firstly stepping off of the plane in Foz, the Brazilian town closest to the falls, all I could see was flat open land. Coming from Rio de Janeiro the flat lane was a welcome change to the normal mountains. Landing here certainly felt like a different part of Brazil. And I consider Rio a city blessed with natural beauty as well as a vast population.
What I found rather tricky about this visit was knowing how to get around, where to eat and the process for getting from Brazil to Argentina. Luckily thanks to my Lonely Planet guide book I managed to answer some of these questions, however, not all of the information was correct. To ensure you don’t go wondering around Foz looking for none existent restaurants or wasting time takings buses to Argentina I’ve put together everything you’ll need to know.
What you need to know to visit Iguaçu Falls
The Brazilian entrance to the park is extremely close to the airport and can easily be visited straight from the airport if you arrive around lunchtime or before. Due to the location of the airport there really is no need to go into the town of Foz only to return straight back past the airport to the falls. There are large sized lockers for storing luggage outside of the park entrance making it even easier to come straight from the airport.
The Brazilian side of the falls is small and easy to get around with a bus provided once inside the park to allow you to travel between the areas. If you exit the bus at the stop by the hotel (where most people exit the bus) then you can begin the short trail from here to the main viewing deck. The first views from here are incredible and will give you an idea of just how grand this waterfall is! Many of the views you will get along the trail are of the Argentinean side but they really paint an overall picture of this natural wonder.
At the end of the trail you will come to the main feature of the Brazilian side The Devils Throat. Here you can admire the view which on a sunny day includes the most gorgeous rainbow, as well as walk out towards the pool of the falls. The walk is exhilarating and you will get pretty dam wet – watch your camera if it isn’t waterproof. Despite this it was my favourite part of this side of the falls as you feel like you are right in the heart of them and the spray from the water really clears away the cobwebs!
At this end of the falls there are a few observation decks some on the lower level with the walkway as well as another higher up. The higher up deck can be reached by a panoramic elevator which lets you take in more of the gorgeous views on offer.
To eat – there are a few fast food areas where you can grab food or alternatively there is a buffet restaurant which serves a wide variety of dishes from a beautiful setting. The buffet is pricey at $R70 each, however, it is certainly worth the price. If you are visiting on a budget then the fast food options have you covered.
To get to the park – if you are coming from the airport a taxi will cost around $R15 or the 120 bus also services the park and costs $R3.60each. If you are coming from the town of Foz then you can also take the 120 bus for the same cost of $R3.60 or a taxi will cost around $R50 the same applies for getting from the park to Foz Centro.
Foz Centro is the main hub of accommodation options and restaurants. We stayed at Golden Park Hotel and had no complaints except it had no restaurants nearby. This end of town is close to the bus station but seems to be north of the centre of town which was near Av. Jorge Schimmelpfeng. Alternatively, in the north, Cataratas JL Shopping, is good for food and has a nice buzz about it. In general Foz is a sleepy town and there isn’t much to do here except the Iguaçu Falls.
This side of the park is much bigger than its Brazilian counterpart and has a lot more to see and do. To properly experience this side or the falls I would recommend a whole day here.
The park entrance is around a 15 minutes drive from the Brazilian border and further from the local town on the Argentinean side so be sure to leave yourself plenty of time for getting to and fro. Once you do arrive the set up to enter is pretty similar to the Brazilian side but you cannot pay by card here only Pesos. This is very important to note before arriving. However, once in the park you are free to pay by card for everything.
There are two main parts to the park. The closet one to the entrance which gives you access to the lower and upper trails around the falls as well as the boat trip on offer here. The second stop which is much further from the entrance is the gateway to the devils throat trail and another boat ride. We found getting out here and back took quite a while as the queue for the train was long and it only departed every 30 minutes. There is no possibility to walk there either so be sure to time your visit around the train.
My favourite parts of this side were the upper and lower trails, they provided so many different view points to the waterfalls and by late afternoon the light on these trails was gorgeous. You can also take a boat ride from the lower trail – this was something we ran out of time for but I would loved to have done!
To eat – Much like the Brazilian side there is a restaurant and fast food options. We chose the fast food option due to being short on time and as predicted it was expensive for what it is. However, they did have salad which meant I was able to eat something unlike your typical fast food choices! If you have time and money I would suggest heading to the restaurant instead. Ideally the best thing to do for food would be to bring a picnic with you.
To get there –
From Brazil – You can take the Argentina bus from across the road of the main bus station in Foz. This is cheap but not time efficient as you have to wait at the Brazilian border after being stamped out for the next bus. It is also not obvious where you have to get stamped out and therefore easy to miss. However, at the Argentinean side the bus will stop for everyone and wait until the process is clear. Once you arrive in Argentina you will need to catch another bus to the park, or like we did grab a car full of people and take a taxi for the same price. We found this whole process took several hours and wished we had opted for the easier option of taking a taxi the whole way!
To get home we ended up taking the bus from the park to the bus stop we were dropped off at in the morning, then walked from here to the border (it was much longer than we thought) finally we caught a taxi from the border to our hotel in Foz for around R$100. Although the taxi was expensive it was so much easier to do this than spend hours taking a bus. On a side note you need to take the second from last bus back to Brazil otherwise you will get stranded at the Brazilian border because the bus will not wait while you get your passport stamped.
From Argentina – (as far as I understand, we stayed in Brazil) take a Rio Uruguay bus from the town straight to the park. These run regularly and cost 60pesos each.
Have you been to Iguaçu Falls? Would you add anything else to my recommendations?