We flew from Rio on an internal flight to Foz do Iguacu. Iguazu/Iguaçu falls was high up on our bucket list. It’s considered one of the natural 7 wonders of the world; spans 2 countries, has 257 individual waterfalls, comprises a width of 2,700 metres, and has an iconic waterfall called The Devil’s throat with an 80 metre drop! While we were fully aware that the area was renowned for its tropical weather, no one could have prepared us for the thunderstorms and rain that greeted us on arrival. We were literally wading through water on the streets. Fortunately, our year trip allows us flexibility so we ended up jumping between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay for about a week! Our planning was a little tricky as we were amazed how little information of bus timetables/prices there was online. (We took photos of the bus timetables and put them at the end of this post in the practical info section for any future travellers).
We got the bus to the Argentinean side of the falls with the intention of going back to the Brazilian side later. They say you should allow 7 hours for the Argentinian side as there are various circuits and viewpoints to fully admire the surroundings. Therefore, we arrived too late so we visited the Triple Frontier instead where the border of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil meet and where the Iguazu and Parana rivers converge.
Puerto Iguaçu, Cataratas de Iguaçu – Argentinian side
The following day we caught a bus early from the main bus terminal in Puerto Iguaçu to the falls (see practical information for more info). The entrance to the park costs $500ARS pp and annoyingly, after withdrawing money the previous day, they had a card machine at the till!
There are three main walking circuits; lower circuit (1.4km’s), upper circuit (1.75km’s) and the Devil’s throat (1.1km’s). We decided to embark on the lower circuit first, partly as all the tour groups seemed to be heading for the upper circuit, but also as we were both in agreement that waterfalls tend to look more impressive from the bottom up. We had both read about the various animals you can expect to see at the falls, including jaguars (although incredibly rare), and shortly into our walk spotted two toucans nestling in the trees, along with several Coatis which are sort of racoon/anteater/badgers. There are warnings throughout the park not to feed or approach the coati’s as they have a nasty bite and carry rabies. However, on the contrary to what we had read, they seemed incredibly docile and tolerant of annoying people harassing them. Along the way, we got our first glimpse of the spectacular falls. Unfortunately, due to the heavy rain earlier in the week, the water was a dark brown colour although the sheer volume and velocity of the falls still made it such an impressive sight.
We then caught the train (price included within the entrance to the park) up to the Devil’s throat. The walkway takes you right to the mouth of the waterfall where the falls drop 80 metres. Every time the wind blew, we got absolutely soaked! From here we were easily able to see the Brazilian side a short distance across the falls. We stopped for a picnic on the benches before catching the train back down towards the beginning of the upper circuit. It was at this point that some kind of insect stung me on my arm, leaving me in (no exaggeration) excruciating pain. Dave pulled out the sting, shook off his hand and stupidly went back to eating his sandwich without checking if it had actually fallen off. It must have still been on his hand as it pierced his lip and he proclaimed he would rather be kicked in the balls than stung by whatever that insect was. And he didn’t even get the full sting! We didn’t see what it was but it must have been some kind of Brazilian wasp.
After catching the train back down we then did the Upper circuit which gave a slightly different perspective from what we had seen earlier in the day. Overall, we felt it was definitely worth it to complete all three circuits given the different view points and chances to see wildlife and rainbows in the mist! There is also the option to do a boat tour for $900ARS. However, as I was still in pain from the insect sting and both of us were quite tired by this stage, we decided to leave it until the Brazilian side. In hindsight, definitely do it on the Argentinean side if you get a chance as we later found out that the cost of the boat tour on the Brazilian side was over double!
We decided to get the bus across to Ciudad del Este and then head back on ourselves to tick off the Brazilian side of the falls. The bus ticket to Ciudad del Este cost $40ARS (£2), a bargain when you consider it crosses three borders as there is no bridge between Argentina and Paraguay so you have to drive through Brazil. The bus only stopped to stamp us out of Argentina and not at all in Brazil. We were hoping to jump off at the Paraguayan border and get our entry stamp. However, the bus didn’t stop there either – probably the most lax border control we have ever encountered! We dropped our bags off at our hotel and were feeling a little concerned that we had technically entered the country illegally, so we walked back across the bridge to Brazil and then re-entered as legal immigrants.
Foz do Iguazu – Brazilian side
After our first border crossing by foot, we continued walking onto the main bus terminal on the Brazil side. From here you can catch the 120 bus to Parque Nacional for $3.45BRL (see the bus timetable below). The falls are the last stop so you really can’t go wrong. The entrance to the park costs $64BRL and this includes a return coach transfer to where the walkway begins. The Brazilian side gives a completely different perspective, you are further away from the falls and higher up giving a much wider view. Unfortunately, our luck with the weather had run out and it was spitting throughout our visit. The walkway along the canyon is fairly short, finishing with a walkway out onto the lower basin of the Devil’s throat. There are several stop off points along the way but it seemed much more congested and crowded than what we had encountered on the Argentinean side. We went through the Brazilian side much quicker than the Argentinian, half a day to complete and admire the walkways on the Brazilian side was more than enough.
Practical information – Prices & Bus timetables for Iguaçu falls October 2017
- Puerto Iguaçu (Argentina) to Ciudad del Este (Paraguay) –
$40ARS, 1 hour and a half, bus only stopped to stamp out of Argentina
- Foz do Iguazu (Brazil bus station) to the waterfalls: 120 bus to Parque Nacional for $3.45BRL, 40 minutes
- Puerto Iguaçu (Argentina) to the waterfalls [Cataratas], return ticket costs $150ARS, 35 minutes
Thanks for reading, join just next time as we head to Paraguay!
Sophie & Dave