“Argentina or Brazil…or both? We only had one day & were told we could/should do both. We had a taxi booked to do both, we 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”
Iguazu Falls, Argentina
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?
Argentina or Brazil… Or both?
BUT, we decided that we would only focus on the Argentine side in the end, mainly because we didn’t want to rush to try & fit everything in as we knew we would enjoy the experience less as a result. We were very happy with our choice & if you 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.
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.
“The Argentinian 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). You do also need some time to cross the border – but the time for this will depend on your nationality & 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 – picking up at 7.30am to see the Argentinian side first (gates open at 8am vs Brazil at 9am), 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.
The airport is effectively in the National Park & as you leave the park for your accommodation you are charged AR$25 per person “tourist charge”. You get a ticket which it’s important you keep so you’re not charged again after you visit the falls.
- Taxi from the airport to our hotel was AR$400 & the return trip AR$330
- Entrance to the park in Argentina is AR$500/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
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. 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 & Garganta del Diablo 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, 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. Garganta del Diablo (Devils Throat)
We started here for 2 reasons:
- It is the furthest point so we thought we’d do the long journey first &
- It was sunny & forecast to cloud over in the afternoon so we felt there would be more chance of seeing rainbows!
“To get a feeling of the sheer power of the falls this is the ideal place to start. It is spectacular but be prepared to get wet, very wet & make sure any camera equipment is protected appropriately.”
The platform is full but 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. And occasionally put your camera down 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 the better views of the falls as a whole. The walkway is 1600m & where you can catch the boats, in particular to San Martin Island.
C. San Martin Island
If the boat is running, then this is apparently the best view you have – it has trails & lookouts and is in the heart of the falls themselves. They make a decision on whether the boat will run on the day (look on the boards at the stations after 10 am), depending on the height of the water. Unfortunately, on the day of my visit, it was not available.
D. Upper Circuit
1750m long & gives views of the upper part of the waterfall. Great to get some perspective of the sheer volume of water from above.
We were told we would see an abundance of toucans & parrots but didn’t see a single one – keep your eyes peeled & lucky for you if you do.
“You will see plenty of Coaties & Monkeys and you will either love them or loath them (depending on how much you want / like your lunch!). There are signs everywhere telling you not to feed them but they will do their best to help themselves.”
The Coaties are all over the place at Cataratas Station, terrorising anyone who lets their guard down. They are very cute & interesting creatures but we chose to eat our lunch out of the way & standing up. But taking lots of photos.
The Mono Monkeys are more prevalent at the end of the Lower Circuit – around the lunch area. 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.
What to wear & take
- Don’t forget your sunscreen & insect repellent.
- Dress for warm weather as it can get very hot & sweaty but layers are the best option – we went in April & it was significantly colder first thing.
- Make sure you have a way to protect all camera equipment from the water – particularly on Garganta Del Diablo – prepare to be soaked. Otherwise, this is a choice you make as to how close you go on the boat (you’ll definitely need them waterproofed) or on the walkways.
- You will get wet but will also dry quickly so a waterproof jacket is your choice. (You can buy ponchos in the park if needed).
- Be prepared to walk so wear appropriate footwear (with grips as some of the walkways can get very slippery when wet)
- 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 next time?
Unsurprisingly, the Brazilian side 😉
What do you think?
Where would you choose – Argentina or Brazil?
What are your top tips for visiting Iguazu Falls?
To see more of my photos from Argentina please visit my Gallery page!