One of the great natural wonders of the world, the Iguaçu Falls (Portuguese: Cataratas do Iguaçu, Spanish: Cataratas del Iguazú, Tupi: Y Ûasu "big water") are situated near the border of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. The area is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Access to the Falls is usually done through one of the three cities in the so-called tri-border between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.
The city on the Brazilian side is Foz do Iguaçu - big, but less secure. The town on the Argentine side is called Puerto Iguazu and is small and pretty. Although the falls are between Brazil and Argentina only, Ciudad del Este, the city on the Paraguayan side, is just across the bridge from Brazil. It's a hectic (but exciting) centre for contraband and cheap electronic goods.
Border crossing between these countries is fairly relaxed - authorities assume most people are on a day trip across the border and won't even stamp your passport. So, if you are crossing into another country for good, you will have to persuade them to stamp you passport (otherwise you could run in to problems later). US passport holders may require a visa to visit the Brazilian side of the falls.
The Brazilian as well as the Argentinian city have airports close-by (see there for details). Domestic one way flights are reasonably priced so if you are traveling multiple countries you might fly in on a domestic flight from Argentina bound to the airport on the Argentine side and fly out on a domestic flight from the Brasilian river.
Buses from all major cities in the country arrive in each of the three towns (see there for details).
From Puerto Iguazu and Foz do Iguaçu there are frequent buses to the entrance of the respective side of the falls. It is not uncommon for policemen to check passports in the Argentinian side of the falls, even during domestic journeys. It is advised to carry some documentation of citizenship, when needed.
On the Argentine side of the park there's a small train leaving about every half an hour from near the entrance going all the way to the beginning of the trail to the Garganta del Diablo.
The Iguaçu Falls are an awesome sight as tons of water throw themselves over cliffs and the mist rises amongst the jungle. They are taller than Niagara Falls, and twice as wide, for which Eleanor Roosevelt is said to have exclaimed on her first sight of the Falls: "Poor Niagara!"
It is well worth spending a day on each side of the falls.
On the Argentine side (40 AR$ pp, second day for half price if you get your ticket stamped before leaving on the first day, subsequent days are free if you tell them you are staying at the Sheraton). Wear waterproofs and protect your camera as it can get quite wet on some viewpoints.
There are five main tracks all of which are paved and well marked with the exception of Sendero Macuco:
Circuito Superior - is a short walk to some nice viewpoints along the upper rim of the waterfalls
Circuito Inferior - is a longer walk on the bottom end of the falls with the main attraction being the lookout to watch Salto Bossetti and Dos Hermanas. This pathway leads also to the free ferry service to Isla San Martin and the tour operators.
Isla San Martin - has two main lookouts to different sides of the falls. There are also a lot of birds. Access by boat only (free).
Garganta del Diablo - The main attraction of the Argentine side. There is a free train running up to a 1 km-long walkway across the river to stand just back from the main horseshoe of falls where the roar and spray are most tremendous.
Sendero Macuco - is the trail with the most abundant wildlife (including mosquitos) and a good way to get away from the crowd. It's about 7 km return on an unpaved but easy path starting at the Estacion Central.
On the Brazilian side (20 R$ pp, cheaper for Brazilian residents) you get an excellent overview of Devil's Throat and the rest of the falls, from both above and below.
Spectacular boat trips can be made under the falls, but they are kind of pricey, if you take the Safaris offered on the Brazilian side of the Falls. If you go all the way to the "Las Cateratas" station on the Brazilian side, you will be offered e.g. wildwater rafting & abseiling activities at better rates. When you arrive shortly before the activities close for the day or they're just not busy you can easily bargain about the price and get a really good rate!
From the Argentine side:
- Iguazu Jungle Explorer, email@example.com, : offers excellent trips, including boat rides (recommended) and rides on 4WD trucks through the park (not so interesting). To be booked near the entrance or on the circuito inferior before going down to the ferry.
- http://planitbrazil.com/ Plan-Interactive adventure tours specializes in adventure sports travel related to eco-tourism in
brazil´s south, like Magic Island of Florianopolis and the famous Brazilian Green Canyons of Rio Grande do Sul. Plan>It Interactive Brazil Adventure Tours offers activities such as rockclimbing, river rafting, paragliding, hang-gliding, cascading, canyoning and more, along with a taste of Brazilian culture and its world famous nightlife. (In US 925 270 4190)
On the Argentina side, there is a really nice hotel that serves a good buffet. You can see the mist coming out of the falls and also generally see toucans and other birds flying around.
On the Brazil side, there's a buffet that stands right next to the throat at the Porto Canoas station at the end of the walking trail. The food is good, the view of the river makes for a surreal sight as you know the falls are really close by but you can't really see them other than the mist and the noise. In addition to the buffet at R49.50 you can grab a (burger) combo meal at one of the outlets right in front of the buffet restaurant for around R10.
The following two options are the only hotels close to the waterfalls. However, they are far from everything in the evening. Most people prefer to stay in either Foz do Iguaçu on the Brazilian side or in Puerto Iguazu in Argentina, where a large number and range of accommodation options can be found. Transport to the falls during daytime is an easy 20 min bus ride.
- Hotel Das Cataratas,Iguacu National Park, Parana. ++55 45 2102-7000,. Stunning location inside the Brazilian National Park, perched atop the falls. Walk to Brazilian observation points and Porto Canoas. Traditional luxury hotel with upscale appointments, gourmet dining rooms, outdoor swimming pool and tennis. Observation deck on the roof. 203 guest rooms. An unforgettable hotel.
- Sheraton Internacional Iguazú Resort, Iguazú 3370, ++54 3757-491800,. Amazing location within the Argentinian National Park, walk to the Argentinian falls. Newly remodelled pool/ gym/ spa area. Observation deck on the roof. English speaking. 180 rooms. double jungle view/ falls view $305 US/ $365 US per night. Be sure to keep your patio door closed in the early morning, or the monkeys may steal things.
This page was last edited at 17:57, on 15 February 2009 by Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Based on work by Roland, Hendrik Scholz, Daniel Cowan and Tim Sandell, Wikitravel user(s) DorganBot, Feitosa and Episteme, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.