A trip to South America, especially if in Brazil/Argentina already, would not be complete without a visit to Iguazu Falls.
Though not as big as Niagara falls in terms of volume, Iguazu is (in our opinion) more beautiful to behold. You can visit the falls from the Brazilian or Argentinian sides with different experiences to be had from each.
There are many ways to get to Iguazu Falls, tours for example. We are going to tell you about our experience, and how you can go about visiting the falls on your own.
Having arrived on a bus from São Paulo we began in Foz do Iguaçu on the Brazilian side. As it was Cheryl’s birthday, Scott booked the 4-star San Martin Cataratas Resort and Spa. This would allow us to enjoy a little pampering after our first few weeks of budget travel. It was also within walking distance of the falls entrance so we wouldn’t have to worry about getting there.
The problem was that we now had to worry about getting to and from the town centre for anything else (dinner, for example). This is one of the reasons that Scott doesn’t book hotels any more!
We arrived on the Friday after our longest bus to date (18.5 hours overnight, surprisingly comfortable though!). We relaxed in the hotel and got an early night ahead of our visit to the falls the next day – Cheryl’s birthday).
Iguazu Falls – The Brazilian Side
We walked down to the entrance where you buy your tickets and get on the park’s bus down to the falls. There are stops along the way for separate walks/tours but we headed straight for the main event. Most people will get off a little before the end of the bus journey as you can walk along the edge of the river (on a platform) and take in a front-on view of the hundreds (literally) of separate falls that are there. The ‘main’ falls are at the end of the walk, but there are beautiful views of the secondary falls on the way.
At the end of the path, you come to a platform that goes out in front of the falls. Here you feel the force of the falls with all of your senses and see right into the Devil’s Throat. If you weren’t wet already, you will be now!
From here you’ll head up to the lunch spot. It has a few fast-food restaurants, souvenir shops, and the bus back to the main entrance. We stopped here for our packed lunch (still in full ‘ham and cheese’ mode) before heading to the bus. Be prepared to queue!
Time to Relax
We went to book massages for the next day only to find out that the ‘spa’ was closed on Sundays. (Another reason Scott doesn’t book hotels). Fortunately, the ‘spa’ had two spots left for this afternoon. We took them and had our, pretty average, massages before heading into town for a rodizio. This is a must-do for meat lovers in Brazil!
For our lazy Sunday (minus the closed spa) we decided to chill out at the hotel. Though too cold to use the outdoor pool, the hotel has an ecological hiking trail in its ‘back garden’ so we went to explore. The trail was longer than we had expected and led all the way to the Iguazu River. Here there was a lookout point with benches where we were able to enjoy our sandwiches. Despite being only a few hundred metres from the falls, the river was very calm and there wasn’t a sound to be heard (just the way we like it!).
On the way back we saw some native birds, plenty of insects, and even a coati.
Crossing the Border into Argentina
When it comes to crossing the border from Brazil to Argentina, you basically have two options; taxi or bus.
The bus is cheaper, but you have to get to the bus station and maybe a connection in Puerto Iguazú. You also have to get through immigration with everyone else on the bus. This includes disembarking and re-embarking with all of your luggage. A process that just seemed lengthy to us, especially as Cheryl had her birthday flowers in tow!
We chose the taxi option.
It was perfect for us and not crazy expensive. It took us from door to door and our driver helped us at the immigration checkpoint. He even stopped for us to get a picture on the bridge across the river, the exact point where you cross from Brazil into Argentina.
Uber is not an option for crossing the border, we did look into this but it wasn’t a viable option.
Our first hotel (Hotel Posada La Sorgente) in Puerto Iguazú had a nice pool, so when we arrived we had a dip. We had some dinner locally and got an early night in preparation for an earlyish start at Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls.
Iguazu Falls – The Argentinian Side
From the bus station in Puerto Iguazú, you can get a bus to the Argentinian falls entrance. It’s a specific bus and you can get a return ticket from a counter at the bus station. You buy your entry ticket to the falls on arrival the park. If you keep it, you can come back the next day for half price. It should be possible to get the main parts done in a day though.
Walking Around the Falls
The main walking routes are the upper and lower (named; superior and inferior) paths. They are accessible from near the main entrance to the park. The Devil’s Throat walkway is reached with a further 30-45 mins walk, or on the train which takes about 10 mins and works on a ticket system (it is included in the entrance price though).
The lower (inferior) path takes you in front of the secondary falls. It allows great views up to the higher falls and down to some others such as the Dos Hermanas (two sisters – right, below). The upper (superior) path leads around the top of these secondary falls. We much preferred the lower path for the views it has. You really get a sense of how powerful the falls are. Note that both paths can be pretty slippery, especially with the waterfalls splashing them, so wear good grippy shoes!
After completing these two paths, we headed back to the entrance to take on the boat ride…. Not a budget-friendly activity, but certainly a worthwhile, not to mention once in a lifetime, experience.
The tour started with a 4×4 ride through the jungle to get to the jetty. There’s nothing really to see but you get a little information about the park from the bilingual guide. 30 minutes later you’re ready to board the jet boat. You’ll get a waterproof bag for your bags and shoes (definitely use it!), a life jacket, and you’re good to go!
A few hundred metres heading upstream into the rapids, dodging rocks, gets you used to the boat. Then you get up close and personal with 2 different parts of the falls, getting VERY wet in the process!
Back on dry land, and a 20 minutes 4×4 journey back to the main park, we were ready to check out the Devil’s Throat.
Note that there used to be two boat trips going from the Argentinian side, however, the boat to Isla San Martín is no longer in action. The jetty on the island side washed away. If you are keen to do a boat trip, we highly recommend the trip we did. Alternatively, they do operate boat trips from the Brazilian side too.
The Devil’s Throat
The Devil’s Throat (or Garganta del Diablo in Spanish) is the monumental section of waterfalls that you see at the top of Iguazu Falls. At busy times you might wait 30-40 minutes for a train up to the top of the park. This late in the day we just had to wait 5 minutes for the next train to arrive. 10 minutes on the train and you’re at the entrance to the viewing platform. Now you have a good 10 minute walk over the water to get there. The platform will be busy, and more so at peak times, but this is a close as you’ll get to the precipice of the most powerful single waterfall in Iguazu, and you can see right down it’s throat.
We headed back to town and started planning the next steps of our South American adventure! Check out our other posts for much more!
In a Hurry? – Check Out Our Quick Tips and Useful Info for Visiting Iguazu Falls on Your Own
What to See
The best panoramic views of the falls.
Get up close and personal with many different parts of the falls
Get even closer to the action with a boat ride up to the falls, available from either side
- Getting to the falls on the Brazil side – From the main bus terminal in Foz do Iguaçu (or along the route) you can get the 120 bus all the way to the entrance of the park. Uber is available here but is not as popular as in some the larger cities.
- Getting to the Argentinian side from Argentina – Book a return ticket on the bus from the terminal in Puerto Iguazu.
- Moovit mobile app – Very useful for working out local bus routes. Download it here.
Food at the Falls
- There are many food outlets around the parks. On the Brazilian side they are located at the main entrance, and down by the falls themselves. The latter has a great view over the falls and across to Argentina.
- Food on the Argentinian side is more spread out, so plenty opportunities to grab a bite to eat. As the park is much bigger than the Brazilian side, there are many little cafes and snack bars along the walking routes. Just be careful not to feed the coatis!