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Paraguay-Brazil border and visit the Iguazu Falls from Ciudad del Este

Part 1: How to cross the Paraguay-Brazil border? Ciudad del Este – Foz do Iguaçu

Ciudad del Este is a shopping paradise for Brazilians and Argentines, and everything has been done to make their shopping experience the best possible (themed shopping malls, several currencies accepted, bilingual staff…). The Paraguay-Brazil border crossing is super easy for Paraguayans, Argentines and Brazilians

For other countries, you will need, in addition, two stamps

Note: if you do not plan to spend a night in Brazil, you aren’t obliged to ask for exit/entry stamps. The Iguazu Falls on the Brazilian side can be visited in a few hours, you can possibly stay in Ciudad del Este and make the round trip during the day to the Iguazu Falls on the Brazilian side, in this case you don’t need tampons and there is no control either.

The steps to follow are reserved for those who wish to: spend at least one night in Brazil

You need
– of the Paraguayan exit buffer, to be obtained before crossing the Friendship Bridge
– of the entry buffer of Brazil, to be obtained on the other side of the bridge

Paraguay exit buffer

Search on Google Maps “Puente Internacional de la Amistad”, this is the bridge that connects Paraguay to Brazil

Before you see the bridge, you will see the immigration office on your right. There isn’thing to fill in, just show your passport

Bridge crossing & entry buffer in Brazil

Then you have to cross this 200m long bridge with a pedestrian area. There are several ways to do this. When you leave the immigration, several options are available to you, you just have to raise your hand and the transportation will stop in front of you

  • with a public bus: direction Foz do Iguaçu (3 000Gs). Tell the driver to stop at the Brazilian immigration office (podria dejar a la oficina de imigracion en Brasil por favor? otherwise the Tarzan version would be “immigracion Brasil stop! parada! bueno? gracias”). The bus won’t wait for you. You will have to take the next one that will take you to the interurban terminal of the city Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil, either by showing the ticket of the previous bus (if you are given one), if you don’t have a ticket, pay back 3 000Gs (1,8€)
  • with a bus for tourists: from the company Rio Uruguay, or Crucero del Norte (12 000Gs or 35 Argentine pesos or 7 reals whatever your route). Tell the driver to stop at the Brazilian immigration. He will not wait for you. But you will have a ticket to take the next bus without having to pay again. These two tourist buses can take you all the way to Argentina so open your Google Maps and be ready to get off. Don’t put your luggage in the hold, keep it on your lap so you can get off faster. These buses don’t stop at the Brazilian terminal (where you can take another bus to Iguazu Falls), they just pass in front of it, so if you want to stop, just wave to the driver.
  • with a cab: from the Paraguayan border to the interurban terminal of the city Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil, it will charge you 20 reals. However, it will wait for you at the Brazilian border. Don’t all get out of the car at the same time, someone has to watch the backpacks 🙂 There are also cab motorcycles in yellow if you aren’t too loaded or traveling alone.
  • onfoot: this is the solution we chose to cross the 200m long bridge, but we regretted a little bit because of the overwhelming heat. After having obtained the Brazilian stamp, we can take either the Paraguayan public bus or a tourist bus at the Brazilian border (the same buses quoted above). Be careful, cab fares are more expensive in Brazil, if you want to take a cab, take it from Paraguay (drivers accept all currencies).

To obtain the entry stamp to Brazil, nothing could be simpler. Just fill out a form. A large panel shows us, in English, how to fill in this form. Then show this form and your passport. No one will ask you for an exit ticket or hotel reservation. We will give you back this stamped form + a nice stamp on your passport. Keep the small form, you will need it to get out of Brazil

Part 2: How to visit the Iguazu Falls from Ciudad del Este

To go to the Iguazu Falls on the Brazilian side from Ciudad del Este

No need to stop at immigration if you are returning to Ciudad del Este the same day . Otherwise, replace the points 1-2 with the part above

  1. Go to the Urbano Bus Terminal in Ciudad del Este (open Google Maps if you don’t know where it is)
  2. Take the local bus in the direction of Foz do Iguazu
  3. Stop at the Foz do Iguazu bus station (this one is right in front of Zoológico Bosque Guarani (Google Maps is your friend), between Tv street. Luis Gama and R. Men de Sá)
  4. Pay 3.75 Reals to take the bus number 120 towards Iguaçu National Park (the bus will first go through the airport and then stop right in front of the entrance to the national park).

All this lasts between 1h and 1h30

To go to the Iguazu Falls on the Argentinean side from Ciudad del Este

Whether you stay overnight in Argentina or not, Argentine immigration needs to see the exit stamp from Paraguay (and also from Brazil if you stay overnight in Brazil at least one night). Be careful, get rid of fruits or animal products before crossing the Argentine border

  1. Go to the Paraguayan Immigration Office (just before the Friendship Bridge I mentioned earlier) to get the exit stamp
  2. If you see a bus Rio Uruguay or Crucero del Norte pass by with a sign “Puerto Iguazu”, call and pay 13 000Gs or 35 Argentine pesos
  3. If you are just crossing Brazil without staying there (in this case you just want to go to the Iguazu falls on the Argentinean side). Do not go down to the two Brazilian immigration posts.
  4. At the Argentinean Immigration Office, everyone must get off with all their luggage to be checked. The buses will wait for you 5 minutes max, if you have any problem, they will drop you off. Keep the bus ticket to take the next one (from the same company) without paying anything extra
  5. These two buses will drop you off at the Omnibus Terminal of Ciudad de Puerto Iguazú (Google Maps is always your friend), after having made a long detour in maze mode
  6. From this terminal, a bus leaves every 15 minutes to Iguazú National Park, for 80 Argentine pesos round trip

All this lasts between 2 and 2h30. The border crossing between Brazil and Argentina CANNOT be done on foot, there is no pedestrian zone planned between the two immigration posts and especially on the small bridge linking the two countries

Moral of the story

  1. Whatever your trip, you have to carry either Brazilian reals or Argentinean pesos 😀 nobody wants your Paraguayan Guarani (except at the bus terminal in Paraguay), so make the change before crossing this little bridge of friendship
  2. Everyone is bilingual, but bilingual Portuguese – Spanish. In Foz do Iguaçu, the inhabitants understand a lot of Spanish. The bus drivers all speak Spanish.
  3. The only word that drivers know how to say in English is “tuck in” so people can get off and get exit/entry stamps
  4. Bus drivers will not hesitate to leave without you, so keep your luggage with you, do not get off the bus without your luggage
  5. If the bus company you have chosen is late in picking you up at the border, take another company, even if you have to pay for a ticket again. From the Argentinean or Brazilian border, the fare is 20 Argentinian pesos to take you to the Argentinean bus terminal or 1.2€.

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