How to plan a trip to Iguazu Falls, Argentina
Updated on January 20th, 2023
If you are planning a trip to Iguazu Falls, the first question is, Argentina or Brazil…or both? I decided to focus on the Argentina Side. Here you can see why I made that decision & what you can do in a day if you choose to do the same.”
Iguazu Falls, Argentina
In 2017, I took 2 months to develop my Spanish & explore Argentina, Peru & Bolivia. During my 2-week tour of Argentina, I visited Buenos Aires, Mendoza & the awesome glaciers of Patagonia. But no trip would be complete without a stop at iconic Iguazu Falls.
Iguazu Falls are one of the great natural wonders of the world & are spectacular. I would definitely say the trip is a must-do on any tour of the highlights of Argentina.
What do you need to know?
Facts on Iguazu Falls
Iguazu Falls are split between Argentina & Brazil, surrounded by rainforest on all sides. You can choose to view the falls from either country. Therefore, when you are visiting Iguazu Falls, this will be the first decision you need to make. There are a mind-blowing 275 individuals waterfalls which make up this epic landmark. The biggest of all the waterfalls is the Devil’s Throat where you can see 1 million gallons of water rush over every second. Witnessing the power of nature here is a moment that will stay with you a long time after you leave. In total Iguazu Falls stretches for 1.7 miles & the waterfalls you see are anything between 200 & 270 feet tall. So, it is well worth adding this spectacle to any Argentinian itinerary!
Planning A Trip To Iguazu Falls
Argentina or Brazil… Or both?
We had mistakenly only allowed one day for our Iguazu Falls trip. We were told we could/should do both sides. In addition, we had a taxi booked to do both sides. We had also read a lot of articles the day before to see what was important if we were going to both.
BUT, we decided that we would only focus on the Argentine side in the end. This was mainly because we didn’t want to rush to try & fit everything in. We knew we would enjoy the experience less as a result. After our day spent at Iguazu Falls, Argentina side we were very happy with our choice. If you also decide to do the same, I think you will be too.
As I understand it there is more to do on the Argentine side (see below) but what you miss is the full panoramic view which you get from Brazil. Both sides offer boat trips.
How long do you need?
We spent 2 nights in Iguazu Falls, arriving on the first afternoon after being told that there was not much to do after you’ve seen the falls. Having been, I would advise 2 days to do the falls fully & therefore see both sides at your own pace.
Iguazu Falls Argentina side needs a full day. We left our hotel at 9am & were picked up at 5pm. We didn’t sit down all day (except a nice cold beer while waiting for our transport back) & didn’t do a boat trip.”
Although I didn’t go, I understand the Brazilian side takes less time (the bus from our hotel left at 9am & picked up at 3.30pm which gives you a guide to how long you’ll need). It is also advised that you allow some time to cross the border. The specific length of time for this will depend on your nationality. Check before you go whether or not you need a visa to enter Brazil. You can check visa requirements for Brazil here.
As I said, we did book a taxi for the full day initially. It was due to pick us up at 7.30am to see the Argentinian side first. Here the gates open at 8am vs Brazil at 9am. The plan was that it would then take us from Argentina to the Brazil side & back to our hotel again. Our driver was great & very understanding when we decided to focus just on Argentina.
How much does it cost?
The airport is effectively in the National Park & as you leave the park for your accommodation you are charged a “tourist charge”. When I visited in 2017 it was AR$25. You get a ticket which it’s important you keep so you’re not charged again after you visit the falls. Here is a breakdown of the other costs you need to be aware of (circa 2017):
- Taxi from the airport to our hotel was AR$400 & the return trip AR$330
- Entrance to the park in Argentina is AR$600/person (local currency only) & includes trains, San Martin Island boat (if running) and Interpretation Centre (Eco-museum).
- Transfers from our hotel to the park were AR$200/person via minivan
- A taxi to do both Argentina & Brazilian sides in a day was quoted as AR$1200
- A transfer in the evening to Puerto Iguazu from our hotel was AR$50/person
Do You Need To Book An Iguazu Falls Tour?
In my opinion, this is not necessary. We were able to easily navigate our way around the park using the transportation provided. As long as you take notes from this post, then a guided tour will actually cost more money & not always gain you much in addition.
Transport within the Park
You can choose to walk but the main mode of transport is via train between 3 stations – Central (Entrance), Cataratas (Lower & Upper Circuits) & Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat). If you are doing both sides in a day waiting for the trains will be a point of stress. Between the Central & Cataratas stations, the trains run every 30 minutes. Between Cataratas & Devil’s Throat its every 15 minutes, at least in theory. There is no timetable. They arrive, fill up & leave.
No train goes straight through so you will always need to get off & join a queue at Cataratas.
The trains take a surprising volume of people. Don’t be perturbed if you seem a long way back in the queue. We often felt like this & made it on the first train every time. You may not be so lucky, however, if you visit during weekends or holidays.
Planning the Day
A. Devil’s Throat, Iguazu Falls (Garganta del Diablo)
I advise you to start here for 2 reasons:
- It is the furthest point so you will be completing the longest journey first
- It was sunny when we visited. The forecast was to cloud over in the afternoon so we felt there would be more chance of seeing rainbows! Check the weather report before you leave. This way you can aim to spend your time at the waterfalls when you believe there is also the greatest chance of rainbows.
To get a feeling of the sheer power of the falls this is the ideal place to start. It is spectacular. However do be prepared to get wet. Very wet. And make sure any camera equipment is protected appropriately.”
The viewing platform will usually be full. Be patient. If you wait you will get your chance for all photographs at the front. There are also professional photographers willing to oblige should you want an official souvenir. My advice is to take your time here as it’s the only chance you get for this view of the falls. Also, remember to occasionally put your camera down so you can just watch in awe. It truly is a sight to behold.
The walkway to & from Garganta del Diablo is an impressive feat of engineering. On the way there you get a real sense of foreboding, just watching the movement of the sheer mass of water. Clouds of mist can also be seen rising into the air from the platform. You will be joined by the most beautiful butterflies & I was even lucky enough to spot a turtle in the river.
B. Lower Circuit
Of the 2 trails, I felt this gave better views of Iguazu Falls as a whole. The walkway is 1600m & where you can catch the boats, in particular to San Martin Island.
C. Iguazu Falls Boat Ride – San Martin Island
If the boat is running to San Martin Island, then this is apparently the best view you can have. The island has trails & lookouts and is in the heart of the falls themselves. The authorities make a decision on whether the boat will run on the day. Make sure you check on the boards at the stations after 10 am. The decision will be based on the height of the water. Unfortunately, on the day of my visit, the boat tour was not available.
D. Upper Circuit
The Upper Circuit walk is 1750m long. It gives views of the upper part of the waterfall. This is the perfect way to get some perspective of the sheer volume of water from above.
Animals at Iguazu Falls
We were told we would see an abundance of toucans & parrots. Unfortunately, we didn’t see a single one! Keep your eyes peeled & lucky for you if you do.
You will see plenty of Coaties & Monkeys however. You will either love them or loath them (depending on how much you want & like your lunch!). Be aware that there are signs everywhere telling you not to feed the animals. However, bear in mind that they will do their best to help themselves!”
The Coaties are all over the place at Cataratas Station. They will openly terrorise anyone who lets their guard down. They are very cute & interesting creatures. As a result, we chose to eat our lunch out of the way & standing up. However, we did make sure we took lots of photos.
The Mono Monkeys are more prevalent at the end of the Lower Circuit. You won’t need to hang around the lunch area for long to be very well acquainted! They are fascinating to watch & again very cute but also love to steal your food!
In addition to these, there is plenty of wildlife in terms of beautiful butterflies, birds & as I said, I was lucky enough to spot a turtle in the river.
Packing List for a Trip to Iguazu Falls
- Don’t forget your sunscreen & insect repellent.
- Dress for warm weather as it can get very hot & sweaty. Layers are the best option. We went in April & it was significantly colder first thing in the morning. It warmed up considerably during the day.
- Make sure you have a way to protect all of your camera equipment from the water. In particular, on the Devil’s Throat. Prepare to be soaked. Otherwise, you can choose how close you decide to get to the waterfalls & more importantly the spray. If you go on the boat tour, you will definitely need something to protect your equipment.
- You will get wet but will also dry quickly so a waterproof jacket is your perfect companion. You can also buy ponchos in the park if needed.
- Be prepared to walk a long way. Therefore make sure you wear appropriate footwear. Some of the walkways can get very slippery when wet so choose shoes with a good grip.
- Above all else, take your time & stare in wonder. It’s not every day you get the opportunity to see a spectacle like Iguazu Falls.
Where to stay in Iguazu Falls
I stayed at the Cantera Jungle Lodge in a lovely cabin in the rainforest. The staff were very friendly & helpful. The hotel offers bus transfers to & from the Falls National Park. An amazing breakfast was also included. To find your perfect place to stay then see below
The restaurant at Cantera Jungle Lodge was good but expensive. There was also no bar, but you can get drinks to take back to your room if you ask. Instead, on our second night, we headed into town. I chose to eat at Color Restaurant. They had good pizzas & allowed payment in a number of currencies (US$, Brazilian Real, Euro & of course AR$) which was really helpful.
Where next time?
Unsurprisingly, the Brazilian side 😉
I hope I have given you everything you need to know to plan your perfect trip to Iguazu Falls in Argentina. It is such a spectacular & iconic landmark that a visit should be part of every itinerary for Argentina.
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One of my big trips this year was to South America and I was really looking forward to Argentina and the Iguaza Falls.Thank you for taking me there virtually.
Thank you, Larch & sorry you couldn’t make your trip to South America this year. Fingers crossed you can recreate it 2021. Safe travels then, Sue x
One of my big regrets on our 2020 trip to South America was missing Iguazu Falls. From everything I now know, we would definitely want to visit for more than one day. And plan to see both the Argentina and Brazil sides. Good to know we don’t need to book a tour to see the falls properly. I will keep this planning guide for when we finally get back.
Thank you Linda & I wish I’d given the falls a little more time as I would have loved to see the Brazilian side too. Next time…Sue x