America,  Argentina,  Brazil,  TDM,  Travel Journal

The Iguaçu / Iguazú Falls (Brazil & Argentina): a wonder of nature

The Iguazú Falls are one of the most extraordinary experiences we had during our world tour. We will easily classify them in the top 10 of our trip

Part 1 : The Iguaçu falls on the Brazilian side

How to get there

How we come from Paraguay, we choose to spend a night in the city of Foz do Iguaçu, at the IguassuCentral Bed & Breakfast hotel,which I highly recommend since it is next to all the buses and good restaurants.

From the city bus terminal near our hotel, we take the famous bus 120 towards Iguaçu National Park, for 3,75 reals/person. This bus is very busy, both by locals, tourists and those who go/work at the airport. It is only after 30 minutes that we manage to find a place to sit, at the bottom of the bus, where there is a small draught.

We are dropped off at the entrance of the park. We have to buy entrance tickets (70 reals/person) which include a panoramic bus that takes us to the viewpoints.

Visit of the falls on the Brazilian side

On the Brazilian side, there aren’t many waterfalls, so you just have to follow a small path of 2km with many balconies, a footbridge of 1km leading to the middle of a waterfall; and finally, an elevator allows you to see another waterfall, but from above.

I admit that the first vision of the falls disappointed me a little: we are too far away, and I look at the superb footbridges of the visitors on the Argentine side with envy. Moreover, many quatis are waiting for us, we have to be careful where we put our feet because they can pass between our legs, looking for food. They look very cute like that but they are still wild animals. Too much fed by humans, they become dependent on them and can bite if we don’t give them food.

But my first disappointment fades away very quickly, because the more you advance, the more you discover impressive falls, the more you are amazed.

The footbridge in the middle of the current guarantees us a good shower, it looks like it’s actually raining, but that’s just from the water that the huge waterfall on the left is pouring down. The coldest ones take out their rain ponchos, while those who are dying of heat like us are content with a hat and a plastic bag to protect the equipment.

Being on the edge of a waterfall, on a footbridge, and watching this huge amount of water pouring into the void is a rather rare sight, whether you see it on videos or thanks to drones, but I didn’t think we could ever do it. We’re not very far from Devil’s Gorge, but this part creates so much mist that everything is white, you can’t see the Argentinean side anymore.

Then, from the building next door, you can admire a huge waterfall from below, in complete safety. The volume of water is impressive, I think that if I put a watermelon underneath, it would have broken into a thousand pieces.

A small elevator brings us to the top of this same fall, it’s too beautiful!

That’s it, it’s over, we take the panoramic bus back home.

Helicopter flight over the park

At the exit of the park, there is the Helisul office, where you can take a helicopter to see the falls. This service only exists on the Brazilian side (because it doesn’t make sense to see it on the Argentine side). The flight lasts 10 minutes, for 430 reals/person. There is absolutely no safety briefing, but it is the kind of helicopter that isn’t very dangerous for novices because it has no propellers in front (the propeller in front can appear invisible and therefore cut an arm, like that).

We have the chance to be placed at the front just beside the pilot so during the 3 minutes of flight which it is necessary for us to reach the falls, we always have the falls in sight. Moreover, we see the white fog created by the Devil’s Throat from far, so much the flow is impressive.

The helicopter makes several turns above the falls, so that everyone can see them, whether you are on the left or the right side of the helicopter.

The video I show you below is just to illustrate my point, the GoPro was filming by itself while I was watching, so I didn’t pay attention to the framing. In reality, the vision is even more impressive than that, you can see the different floors of the falls and discover the Argentinean footbridges leading to the Devil’s Gorge (something you couldn’t see from the trail on the Brazilian side).

It lookslike the earth has cracked under the pressure of the water… it’s such an extraordinary and unique vision that even though I’ve already seen these images on video, I absolutely had to see it with my own eyes to believe it.

On leaving Helisul, we come across a small foodtruck selling Argentinean empanadas for 10 reals. It’s out of price, but the empanadas are made to order -> the best in South America.

We take the bus 120 in the other direction to pick up our luggage at the hotel. We still have Argentine pesos since our last trip to Patagonia, we take them out and put away the reals for our return to Brazil 2 weeks later.

Note: We could have come with our luggage and had it kept at the park’s lockers. The bus Rio Uruguay stops in front of the park also and can bring us directly to Argentina for 40 Argentinean pesos/person.

Part 2: The Brazil – Argentina border crossing

As the bus to Argentina passes near our hotel, we wait for it in the street. 20 minutes later, here it is! It is enough to hello so that it stops! The companies RioUruguay and Crucero del Norteensure the border crossings between 3 countries: Paraguay (Ciudad del Este), Brazil (Foz do Iguaçu) and Argentina (Puerto de Iguazú) as well as the displacements towards the Brazilian falls for the Argentines.

For 20,150pesos/person (also payable in reals directly to the driver), it takes us to the bus terminal of Puerto Iguazú in Argentina. However, as we have to stop at the Brazilian border to receive the exit stamp, the driver leaves us there (with our luggage) and tells us to show the same ticket to the next bus of the same company.

It is much too hot so instead of waiting for the same company, we repairing another company (Crucero del Norte or Itaipú, 20 150 pesos/person, always). At the Argentinean border, everyone has to get off with their luggage. The immigration control is done very quickly. However, the driver does not wait for anyone, only 10 minutes, so much the worse for two of our compatriots who seem to have a problem with the Argentine immigration.

The bus takes us to the bus terminal, making a big detour in the city. Our hotel is just next door, we just go there on foot then dine at the hostal Bambu which proposes excellent woks at 130 pesos.

Part 3: The Iguazu Falls on the Argentinean side

How to get there

From the bus terminal (Argentinian side), two companies: Crucero del Norte & Rio Uruguay can take us to the entrance of Iguazu National Park, for 130180$AR one way. We choose Rio Uruguay because we see these buses more often than Crucero. The way lasts 20-30 minutes.

Visit of the Iguazú Falls on the Argentinean side

As soon as you are dropped off at the park, you inquire about the possibility of going to Isla San Martin. Unfortunately, it is closed today because of the water level. The good news is that we are stamped ourpassport with a nice stamp “Iguazu”, which completes our collection of “souvenir stamps”, with Ushuaia and Machu Picchu. If you want the same thing, go to the guards’ office on the left of the entrance.

The entrance ticket costs 330,800$AR/person. Those who want to come back the next day can have their ticket stamped at the end of the day, to get a 50% discount the next day.

The blogs advise us to take “Sendero Verde” to access the circuits directly (instead of waiting for the train that passes every 30 minutes), which we do. Since it’s raining and we’re afraid that one of the circuits is closed, we choose to do the most important circuits first.

At the end of the Sendero Verde route, we take the train to the Gorge du Diable station (this one passes every 15 minutes). 15 minutes later, we arrive and discover once again quatis waiting quietly next to the garbage cans and picnic chairs.

In spite of these rather explicit pictograms, there are some that feed the quatis !!!

A 1km++ footbridge brings usto the most impressive falls of the park, totally inaccessible from the Brazilian side because the current is much too strong. It rains more and more, and the fog created by all the falls does not help. Even with my raincoat on, I’m soaked. The pictures are rotten, but what a joy!

How can I describe to you the unrealistic spectacle that is offered to us? I will try my best.

Between the deafening noise coming from all sides, a more than unreal vision of a multi-story high waterfall, whose bottom cannot be seen because of the thick mist it creates, birds fly over in the middle, in circles, to catch the poor fish that fall with the falls. There is like a regular rhythm, the mist thickens and then fades, thickens again and fades away, creating a dreamlike spectacle. As the mist fades, more falls reveal themselves to us, only to disappear again as the mist thickens. Birds continue to fly, in circles, some spot a fish and disappear into the waterfall…

It’s hard to imagine that this is possible. Especially when we see the old footbridges on our right, completely destroyed in 2015, swept away by the current. We look well at the footbridges we are walking on and we still find it hard to believe that we are right next to one of the strongest falls in the world.

On the way back, we cross a small crocodile. A tourist throws him a piece of ham, which he lazily tries to catch by simply opening his mouth. But other small fish are faster and catch the piece of ham by moving it far away from the crocodile ahahah.

We then continue the visit by exploring the upper circuit that passes over the waterfalls.

Other tourists can be seen below, those who follow the lower circuit.

The lower circuit, the one I like the least (because we see more forests than waterfalls), offers me however the vision I like the most of the Iguazu Falls. There is a paradisiacal side from this viewpoint, especially the small two-story waterfalls and the vegetation that hides all along the waterfalls (that we don’t see on the pictures). Here is my favorite picture of the falls!

It is with this paradisiacal vision that we leave the park, soaked, cold, tired but happy. We will meet some birds that we have never seen before in our lives, and mini monkeys eating (big) ants hidden in a tree trunk. Decidedly, this side of the falls is still full of animals.

Very tired from our day, we treat ourselves to a good dinner at AQVA,an Argentinean steak house. The portions are always monstrous here 😀 but I managed to finish everything.

Part 4: Budget

Visas for Brazil and Argentina are free for French citizens. But if you are Canadian, American… check the rates!

To read the complete Iguazu guide and updated budgets for October 2019, click here

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