Iguazu Falls is one of the Natural Wonders in the World that you have to see once in your life.
Iguazu Falls lies between Brazil and Argentina that both have different views of the waterfalls.
I flew from Sao Paulo to the Foz de Iguazu (the Brazilian side) and stayed there for a few nights.
My plan was to go north of Brazil so I would fly into Sao Paulo again and go upwards but there are many travellers who will do the Brazilian side and cross the border to do the Argentinian side – then stay in the Argentinian side.
There is a local bus that doesn’t cost much that can take you from the airport to the main bus station (it’s a tiny airport and the bus stop is outside the airport doors).
I stayed Che Largato that was like 8 minutes walk from the bus station so I was happy.
The same local bus that stops at the airport goes onto Iguazu Falls. This is the last stop and you can’t miss the signs so if you are on a budget, you can literally do this yourself without booking an expensive tour.
As you know, there are two sides to Iguazu Falls and they are different outlooks to this famous natural wonder.
The Brazilian side is really pretty, looks magical and even has the lush 5* Belmond Pink Hotel located here.
This can be visited in a morning or a couple of hours and then you can go to the Bird Park, Itapu Park (second largest power plant in the world next to China and one of the great engineers (see my posts below on these trips).
TIP: Trainers is much more ideal here than flip flops.
Iguazu Falls – Argentina side
You can opt to do this yourself but getting a local bus to the border, cross the border (they take a LONG time at passport control), pay your money and then catch another local bus to take you to Iguazu Falls. However, as I’ve coming back to Brazil and I didn’t want to have the hassle of trying to speak Portuguese to passport control, I just booked a day tour with my hostel that was about $20 USD.
If you book any tours, here are my tips as I felt like they scammed me:
- To pay passport control, you need to have Argentinian Pesos – if they told me this the day before, I would’ve got peso’s at a better exchange rate or took out more Brazilian Reals as Brazilian to Argentinian Pesos are similar exchange rates.
But instead, they take you to a bureau exchange that has the crappiest exchange rate and their card machine doesn’t work :|. Absolute nightmare!
- The tour company will say they the cash for entry to the park tickets – they do accept card but they play on this thing like ‘oh sometimes their card machines don’t work etc’ and make you feel you have to take out extra Argentinian Pesos at a ridiculous exchange rate. So I would say bring extra Brazilian Reals cash with you that you got from an ATM that has a good exchange rate or if you are willing to take the chance, just stand your ground and say you will pay by credit card.
Personally, I think that it’s a tourist spot that LOTS of people go to so they will have at least one machine that works.
TIP: This side is much more a day trip and you will be walking around a lot so wear trainers.
When I was leaving, there is a Melia Hotel onsite but I was there on quiet season so I don’t think it was open… but if you are interested, I am sure you could stay, eat or drink there.
THE BIG DEBATE
There is always the debate if you should see one or the other so here are a quick pro’s and con’s of each.
Pro – really pretty, can be visited in a morning or an afternoon. If you were to buy gifts, gift shop is large here and you can even buy some walking boots at good prices.
Con – there is a small food court but it wasn’t for me so bring your own sandwich or snack.
PRO – you need to spend a full day here because it’s bigger and you need time to get around to the various waterfalls.
There is also a little train you can get to move you around (included in your admission tickets) and you see some large rodents jumping in and out of the train – I found this particular entertaining but it may put others off.
As this place is bigger, there are more fast food and coffee options BUT it’s fast food that is only served. Some of the shops will also sell ice cream if that’s your diet (as it was mine 🙂 ).
CON: It’s not as pretty as for some reason, the water is brown whereas in Brazil it’s clearer.
As there are these rodents (that I don’t event know the name of), they can smell food within a metres so they will come after you to get your food. If you do not want your food to be snatched off, you literally need to eat in a human cage. In this human cage, you will see a door that needs to be closed, tables, chairs and bins. IT IS IMPORTANT TO CLOSE THE DOOR.
Overall, if you can visit both, then visit both places as they are different in it’s own way.
But if you had to pick one, it depends if you want photos or a day out. Brazilian side is great for photos. But Argentinian side is a full on day out that is also good fun.
ON BOTH SIDES – you can get on a boat that takes you up close to the waterfall and you will go under. If it’s a hot day, you actually dry quite quickly. This will need to be booked when you buy your tickets.
What to do in Foz de Iguazu?
- Brazilian barbeque restaurants everywhere – not many other food options available so if you are a vegetarian, stock up on something before you get here. There is a large supermarket that you can pop into and buy food to cook at the hostel.
- If you are coming on the weekend, next to the Che Largato hostel is a nightclub so you can stroll home drunk within minutes. This is the only option to party as there is nothing around.
- Itapu – You must buy tickets in advance as they run at specific times. We were aiming to get there for the 10am slot but they sold out so we ended up buying tickets for the 13:30pm slot, strict dress code as your knees to be covered (health & safety), you get a safety hat, there are lockers to put your bags in (no bags allowed) , the control room looked like the Captain’s Deck in Star Trek and you can literally stand in the line that splits Brazil and Uruguay.
Fact: this control room – half of this is in Brazil and the other half is Uruguay but you don’t need passports here – it’s just a white tape. To work in this place, you have to be able to speak Portuguese and Spanish as these are the languages that you would communicate with your colleagues.
It sounds boring but it was actually quite interesting for me.
- Buddhist Temple – very small, pretty, only needs 30 mins to an hour here . You can buy incense and a note from the small little store when you enter that you use in the small temple room.
Overall, I am glad I did both sides as they are very different views of Iguaçu Falls and was ready to catch my local bus to the airport and venture to a new place.