At first the thought of spending two days looking at a waterfall seemed absurd. Surely nothing could be that incredible that it deserved a whole weekend?
So wrong – it does. And if you’re one of those people thinking that you can do it all in one day, think again. Here are some tips for tackling Iguazu Falls.
Iguazu Falls from the Brazil side
We started on the Brazilian side, mainly because we were staying in Argentina and didn’t want to have to worry about crossing back over the border the day that we flew out (flight stress avoided). The day we flew in to Puerto Iguazu (the nearest town to the falls on the Argentine side) the border was actually closed due to a protest, so we were a bit nervous when we woke up on Saturday morning, wondering if we would get over to Brazil. Luckily, everything was cleared and we were good to go (although I don’t think the issue that resulted in the protest has been resolved).
It’s fairly straightforward to travel from Argentina to Brazil and it can be done by bus or hiring a taxi for the day.
The entrance to the falls is very modern, with clean bathrooms and a cafe. There is a bus service that takes you from the entrance to the various stops in the park, ending with the Path of the Falls Stop. There are two other stops which give you access to some jungle walks and boat trips: note that these are additional costs.
The 1.5 kilometre Path of the Falls gives you scenic views of the falls and across to Argentina, and takes you almost under the falls – prepare to get wet in some parts (you can purchase ponchos although some people are kind enough to hand theirs over once they’ve returned). You can take an elevator or walk up to the top of the falls where you will see the full power of the falls – the sound of thousands and thousands of litres rushing over the edge every second is incredible.
There are other things to do while you’re in Foz do Iguaçu: helicopter rides over the falls, a bird park (Parque das Aves) where you can see toucans and other bird life, and other museums along the road to the national park.
Cost: BRL52.30 (entrance to the park which includes the bus and access to the Path of the Falls). Credit cards are accepted
Time required: At least 3 hours, more if you wish to do the optional tours
Important note: Check if you need a visa to get to Brazil – many countries do. Australians and Americans require visas – and for Americans, it’s not exactly cheap. There are stories of people crossing without a visa if it’s just a day trip, but it’s risky and you may be turned back. If you’re a resident of the Mercosur countries (as we are) you can use your DNI to cross the border.
Iguazu Falls from the Argentina side
On day two we woke up bright and early, ready to hit the Argentine side of the falls. The park opens at 8am so by about 9am we were already on our way down to the Paseo Inferior. I recommend starting here – most people head straight to La Garganta del Diablo first, so if you start at the Paseo Inferior it’s fairly quiet and the early morning light is great for photos.
The Paseo Inferior is around 1.5 kilometres, and you can follow this by the boardwalks of the Paseo Superior (just under a kilometre long) which then takes you above the various falls that you’ve just walked under.
Then get ready to get wet by taking the Paseo Aventura Náutica (additional cost of ARS270) – a boat ride that takes you directly into the waterfalls. Literally. You will get saturated so avoid wearing jeans or other heavy clothes (or white shorts with a g-string – yes, my eyes were exposed to this). You receive a wet sack to put your valuables in and there’s time for photos before the boat speeds into the water. They film a video that you can also purchase afterwards for ARS300.
End the day with the biggest and most spectacular sight of the falls: the Garganta del Diablo. Standing over this gaping hole, listening to the roar of the water, helps you appreciate the power of Mother Nature. You can either take the train up to the start of the boardwalk or walk the 2.5 kilometres. By walking you’ll see many butterflies of all colours and sizes and avoid the long, long queues.
Cost: ARS260 for an adult (or if you have a DNI, like we do, entry is ARS160). Credit cards are not accepted here so make sure you have cash or you use the ATM at the entrance
Time required: 5-7 hours to do all the trails
Important note: Some nationalities need to pay a reciprocity fee to enter Argentina – check if this applies to you before arriving in Argentina.
My last tip… for God’s sake, PLEASE put down your selfie stick, your iPhone, your DSLR for at least a few seconds. This is an incredible place and it deserves a few moments of your undivided attention and contemplation on the power of Mother Nature.
Have you visited Iguazu Falls? Did you have a favourite side?