We spent 4 days in the two towns of iguazu and iguacu paying the waterfalls a visit from both Brazil and Argentina.
Foz du iguacu and port du iguazu
Foz du iguacu
We started off taking the bus from São Paulo to foz du iguazu (Brazilian side). The bus station we arrived at was a little out of town so we had to get a taxi to our hostel. Although we have experienced some nice taxi drivers so far on our travels, we met the nicest one to date here.
He put on the meter straight away and even paused it as he dropped leah and I at our hostel whilst two other girls in our taxi waited to be driven to theirs. Throughout the 15 minute taxi ride he gave us tips on how to get to and from the falls (even after we said that we didn’t want a taxi) and told us that we would need Argentinians pesos to pay for the falls on the other side. It’s tips like this that might seem obvious but you feel pretty silly if you forget them!
The town of foz du iguacu is pretty small but has enough to occupy your attention for a few hours. We arrived here around lunch time so spent a while walking around here before visiting the falls the following day.
Due to the time of day we arrived we went for lunch in the best value buffet libre place we have found so far! The food was tasty and varied and included drinks, dinner and dessert all for 15 Brazilian floors (like £3!). Lots of the restaurants offered similar prices but this one was tucked down a little side street so it’s best to take a wander off the high street.
Unfortunately all these kind of restaurants are closed for dinner so it’s best to visit for lunch. For dinner we hit the only supermarket in town (situated just down the hill from mc Donald’s) and cooked back in our hostel.
The rest of the restaurants were a little prices for us and the falls we’re going to cost us enough money getting to.
Although the main town is constantly pretty busy, the same can’t be said for the surrounding area. I went for a run around the edge of town in the afternoon and was a little frightened by the area I had to run through. One street is full of old warehouses and petrol stations so it’s best to have a look on google maps before having a stroll once it starts getting dark.
Port du iguazu – Argentina
Compared to the Brazilian side, port du iguazu had a very rustic appeal. Both towns are very small but the Argentinian side seems a lot more compact.
After checking into our hostel on the Argentinian side we realised that we hadn’t drawn out any Argentinian pesos yet so went straight to the bank. In Brazil it was relatively easy to withdraw money from a cash point but this seemed to be a real problem in port du iguazu. We tried three banks and all refused/ wouldn’t register our bank cards!
By now we were starting to get a little desperate. It was gone lunch time and we didn’t have any money for water or food. We had one bank left to try and if that failed we would were (half) joking that we might have to walk back to Brazil…
Obviously the last bank had the biggest queue but after waiting in line for almost an hour it was finally our turn at the cash point! And it worked! Although it did only allow us to withdraw 1000 pesos at once (£50) and charged us 90 pesos per transaction (£4.50). Withdrawing the equivalent of £150 each we were charged £15 extra!
There are a few small cafes and restaurants in port du iguazu but the whole place is pretty bare. Annoyingly the big supermarkets close for a siestas everyday between 1.30pm and 6pm so we had to buy water and fruit for lunch in one of the smaller (and more expensive) shops.
The restaurants that are here are pretty expensive, the Brazilian side was a lot cheaper!
There are also a lot more stray dogs walking around on the Argentinian side. I went to go for a run in the afternoon again but came into contact with atleast 15 in the first 5 minutes!
Brazilian – Argentinian border crossing
We spent a day lay over in each of the towns before visiting the falls but a lot of people visit both sides on the same day. We chose to do this because we would be travelling around Argentina afterwards so would need to take all of our belongings with us (although realised later that the ticket offices at the waterfalls have luggage storage).
We took the ‘Argentina’ bus from the bus stop opposite Mc Donald’s in foz du iguazu and that dropped us at the border in under 60 minutes (price: 4 Brazilian dollars)
As we got off of the bus we were given a ticket to allow us to board the next bus with the same company for free after we’d had our passport stamped out of Brazil at the border.
After filling out a departure card everyone had their passport stamped pretty quickly and was back waiting at the bus stop almost 10minutes later. The only problem with this was that the bus company that we used must only come once an hour because we were all waiting a long for another one to turn up. In hindsight it would be worth just paying the next bus that comes along for another ticket.
Once on the bus we were driven another 10 minutes down the road (we asked about walking but apparently it was not recommended)- in essence it was no mans land- we arrived at the Argentinian customs office. Again we had to fill in a form (this time for entry) and was given an entry stamp with a 90 days visa shortly after (UK nationals don’t pay for this). This time the bus waited for us so once everyone was through the customs protocol we carried on our journey.
Almost 20 minutes later and we were at the bus station in port du iguazu (Argentina).
The falls compared – Brazil vs. Argentina
On the Brazilian side of the falls once you have bought your ticket you are ushered onto a bus to take you to the main site. From here you have the opportunity to walk along a pathway running alongside the falls or to head straight to the final lookout point. We chose the longer route and it was great because our excitement and wonder had the chance to build up for the main event – the Devils throat. We saw lots of waterfalls from afar along the way and even crossed paths with quite a few Coati’s (little animals) enroute.
Unlike the Argentinian side, there is only one point where you are close enough to the falls to feel the spray but from this perspective you are able to see the falls in its complete environment: amongst the rocks where it’s set with the river running below it.
There are a few more stops along the way/ way back on the bus but they were for boat trips and other extras we weren’t interested in.
In comparison, on the Argentinian side you get the opportunity to get up close and personal with the falls on numerous occasions.
From the outset you have the opportunity to walk through the park along the marked trails.
Starting with green path we walked past the trains station (taking you to the top of the Devils throat) and joined the yellow trail (lower trail) to walk amongst the falls from the outset. The pathways go through a little forest (where more Coati’s are running around) until you eventually step on the metal walkways which take you over and across the various waterfalls that are dotted throughout the park. All along this route you’re within 3 metres of the flowing water.
Once we had completed the yellow route and made our way back to the train station we realised that we would be out of time if we waited in the queue to see the devil throat from a different perspective. We had a bus to catch back in port du iguazu to our next location so couldn’t afford waiting in the queue for over an hour and missing our bus (as the queue would be one hour, plus walking around the top for over an hour, and queuing to get back down on the train).
Instead we walked the upper trail (red) and saw other falls from above. We completed this trail in just over an hour and even paused to stand under the part of one of the waterfalls to cool us down from the humidity of the day.
I think that both sides of the falls are really worthwhile seeing but if you’re just interested in the waterfalls the Brazilian side might be the most appealing. I on the other hand loved the setting of the Argentinian side in the park as we were able to walk around and ‘explore’ along the set trails a lot more!