Iguazu Falls | Iguazu National Park Travel Guide | Argentina

Cataratas De Iguazu

Iguazu Falls are one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. It’s a must-see place for those who will visit Latin America. Iguazu Falls have a solid place in most people’s lists of places to see before death. We’ve been willing to visit the Iguazu National Park since we moved to Argentina and we finally did it!

Brief

  • As I said before, the Iguazu Falls on the Unesco World Heritage list are also one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
  • It is also the world’s largest waterfall. It is made up of about 275 waterfalls.
  • The color of the water is brown because the river brings a lot of soil beside it.
  • It is precisely between Brazil and Argentina that the borders of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay are at odds. The boundaries of these three countries are also determined by the Iguazu and Parana rivers.
  • Iguazu Falls can be visited both from Argentina and Brazil. The name of the waterfalls in Argentina is Cataratas de Iguazu, and the name in Brazil is Foz do Iguaçu.

Taken from Lower Circuit

On our first Iguazu Trip, we could only visit the Argentine part because our passports were stuck in the US embassy and I didn’t have the Argentine ID  card yet (with which we can visit other Mercosur countries). I only had a paper (precaria) that says I have the right to reside in Argentina. Therefore we had to leave the Brazilian part for another time. This blog post contains the notes from our first trip, so it is only about Argentina. Later we planned a second Iguazu trip with our family to see the Brazilian part too. Here you can find the travel guide for Foz do Iguaçu here.

Time

If you don’t want to go to one of the spa hotels for a long and relaxing holiday, 3 days will be enough.

The greatest thing Iguazu can offer you is a perfect nature. The city of Puerto Iguazu is not really an interesting place with many things to do. So every attraction point can actually be seen in 3 days, including the Brazilian part. Here is the itinerary:

  • 1 day for transportation to Puerto Iguazu + sightseeing + visiting the intersection of 3 borders,
  • 1 day for visiting the Cataratas de Iguazu National Park/Argentina,
  • 1 day for transportation to Brazil and visiting the Foz do Iguaçu National Park/Brazil and return.

If you first visit the Brazilian part, you can do everything in reverse order. Though you should keep in mind that the Argentine part takes much longer than the Brazilian part. You may want to add one more night (3 days & 3 nights, the last day being only for transportation.) You should make sure you arrange your transportation accordingly.

Transportation

Access to Iguazu:

If you are starting your trip from the Argentine side, you need to go to Puerto Iguazu, the city that the Iguazu Falls are located in. You can get there by plane or by bus. There are direct flights from Buenos Aires. In Buenos Aires, there are two airports: Ezeiza International Airport (EZE) and Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (AEP). Most probably you will need to take off from AEP since it is the smaller one which is more used for domestic flights. Although there are flights to Puerto Iguazu from EZE too. Make sure which one you need to go. Then you will land to Aeropuerto Internacional de Puerto Iguazu (IGR).

Alternatively, you can easily find buses from Buenos Aires and many neighboring cities. You will step down at the terminal of Puerto Iguazu which is located right in the middle of the city. Keep in mind that a bus trip takes 15 hours from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu.

If you are starting your trip from the Brazilian side, you have to go to Foz do Iguaçu. (The name of the city is the same as the waterfall) If you are taking the airline, you will land to Aeropuerto Internacional de Foz do Iguaçu (IGU).

I am trying to write these in detail because when I am trying to arrange tickets and hotels, I was very confused. There is just one river flows between these two countries, they share the same waterfall, and their names are very similar to each other. When you write Iguazu in the search engines, most websites like Booking and Skyscanner will give you all the options in both countries. So, without even realizing, you can book your flight to Argentina but your hotel is in Brazil! (It happens more often than you might think, I heard many stories.)

Transportation from Airport to Hotel Transfer:

Most hotels have airport shuttle services however if you want to use them you usually need to inform the hotel about 1-2 days in advance. Since we didn’t arrange the hotel until the last minute, we couldn’t use the shuttles.

Fortunately, there are other transportation services than the shuttles. There are many taxis and taxi-like services. And there is a second other shuttle option. You can see the kiosk on the right when you get out of the baggage claim area. It has a signboard that says:  Transportation to City Center … Pesos.

When we first went in November 2017 it was 120 peso per person. When we went for the second time in March 2018 it was 150 peso. The inflation in Argentina is quite high at the moment, therefore, the prices change rapidly. Also, unfortunately, there is no website that we can check this information.

We were very satisfied with the shuttle service. It was the cheapest option and it was super helpful! You just tell the driver which hotel you’re staying and he leaves you at your hotel door. It also stops at the city terminal. If you would like to return to the airport at the end of your trip, do not forget to take their card. You need to call them 24 hours before and indicate the date and the time you will leave the hotel. and they come and take you to the airport.

There are also many tax’ companies located at the airport. Of course, they are more expansive but if you are more than 2 people, it might just be a more economical and comfortable option.

Click to enlarge the photo.

Access to Iguazu National Park:

There are busses from the terminal to the park entrance called “Rio Uruguay”. You can see the bus schedule on the left. When were there it was 150 pesos per person but as I mentioned before the prices increase frequently. The national park on the Argentine part takes a whole day. So you might want to take early busses. The queues for the bus can be quite long, therefore, you might want to go a bit more earlier to spare enough time for the tickets.

Hotel

While looking for an hotel, our priorities were a central location, good prices, and good customer comments. As a result, we booked a room from a 3 starred Hotel Los Helechos. It was only ok.

It wasn’t a bad hotel. However, we’ve been to different 3-star hotels in Argentina which were better than Los Helechos. I think this place is more like a hostel than a 3-star hotel. And for me, the most disappointing part was the breakfast which was basically 3 different types of cakes. On the other hand, the location was fantastic. We were only 5 minutes away from the terminal. The room and the restroom were a little old but clean.

On our second visit with our family, we stayed at Hotel Saint George, a 4-star hotel. My husband and I are used to 3-star places during our travels because they usually meet all our expectations. We tend to think that higher star hotels provide more services than we need during our short visits, such as a pool or gym etc. This time we were happier with Saint George than Los Helechos.

Food

The first restaurant we went for dinner was an incredibly shabby place. I couldn’t even figure out what was its name. Although the place did not look very nice, the taste was good. (which always makes me even more suspicious…)

On the second day, we went to the Aqva restaurant because its Foursquare score was high. Aqva turned out to be more like an elegant place for dining. We were actually looking for something in the middle of Aqva and the nameless place. And that, we found on our second visit: Color Restaurant! It’s a nice place with really delicious pizzas and a great fish plate.

Lunch at the Park

For lunch, we only ate sandwiches that we made with cheese and bread from a local store. Many visitors take their lunch with them to the Iguazu National Park. There are places in the park where you can buy food, but it’s usually expensive and not worth the money. There’s a big cafeteria in the middle of the park which sells fast food such as sandwiches and hamburgers. There is also a Subway located in the train station which I think is a more reasonable choice. (There is a train in the park)

Important: There are, coaties in the Iguazu National Park. Especially when you’re eating, you have to pay attention to these little creatures because they are used to stealing food from visitors. Keep in mind that coaties are wild animals. (a raccoon species) It is strictly forbidden to feed them. Plus, they might bite or scratch you.

Things To Do

Puerto Iguazu City Center

As I mentioned before, there is not much to do in the city. There is one point that is an important tourist attraction: The border of three countries. There, you can see the lands of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. (There are similar sightseeing points in Brazil and Paraguay too.) Also, you can buy a small boat tour on the Parana River from the 3-borders point. However, I don’t think it’s worth it.

Iguazu National Park

Well, this is the main reason anyone goes to Puerto Iguazu, no? Iguazu National Park is a truly spectacular place. Here, you can find the website and the current entrance fees.

Preparation

If you want to do the boat tour in the park, you should definitely take extra clothes with you! If you don’t have any limiting condition, I strongly suggest you do the boat tour. It takes you under the waterfall. I mean, they literally take you under the waterfall! You get soaked. Before we left for Iguazu, I read, “You get a little wet, get a spare T-shirt.” Such a lie… Taking the boat tour on the Argentine side is like taking a shower with your clothes on.
There were people who get on the boat with their swim-suit. We didn’t think of that beforehand but I think it’s a good idea too.

From the boat.

My second suggestion will be to take flip flops with you. If you get on the boat with your shoes, they will get wet too and 1) it will be hard to dry them, 2) they will get muddy.

They will give you thick waterproof bags when you get on the boat. You can put all your stuff in it and keep them from getting wet. However, it is good to check whether the bag is wet inside or not. Because mine was a little wet and I didn’t realize until later.

Make sure you have comfortable clothes. Keep in mind that you will be walking on rugged terrain for a long time. Iguazu is quite hot and humid. Make sure you have plenty of water with you.

Panoramic view from Devil’s Throat.

In The Park

Iguazu National Park in Argentina is quite big. It has 2 main tracks: Lower Circuit & Upper circuit. There is also San Martin Island and Devil’s Throat. I would like to tell you exactly how these places are located, as well as the best route to track. This part is a little detailed because it took me a while to understand where Devil’s Throat is before I left.

The Lower Circuit is the path that runs you through the skirts of the land. Here you can look closely at the waterfall from below and see the effect of tons of water, constantly pouring into the river. Also, the departure point for the boat tour is located at the end of the trail. Boats go to San Martin Island depart from here as well.

San Martin Island is a small island in the middle of the river and just in front of the waterfall. From here you can see the waterfalls closely. At the same time, you can wander around the island and see the tiny waterfalls on it. The day we went, the tours to San Martin Island had been canceled so we could not experience it. However, I heard that the view over the island is very impressive.

The Upper Circuit is the path that leads you through the higher points of the land. On this trail, you can observe the waterfall from a higher perspective.

Devils Throat is the exact peak of the waterfall. Here the waterfall spills down from the exact point where you stand. During sunny days, you can see spectacular rainbows from this spot.

Iguazu National Park Map

First of all, do not forget about free maps after entering the park. You will see three train stations on the map. The first one is right at the entrance of the park. The second one is the central one though it is not far away from the first one. From the second station’s point, you can enter both Lower and Upper Circuits. The third station is located close to Devil’s Throat.

The stand for boat trips is located between the park entrance and the first station. If you want the boat trip, the first thing you do should be to get the tickets. They run out quickly.

The train route is planned to operate in-park and is free. But I do not recommend you to use the train if there are no special conditions. The train is mainly for elders, disabled people, and families with small children.

The first two stations are very close and there is a small short-cut that you can easily walk. There is also a trail that goes right next to the train station from the second station to third. This one takes around 45 minutes.

Waiting for the train can be a real pain. To get on the train, you need a ticket which is free and basically just has a number on it. It is easy to get the ticket but usually, there are a lot of people waiting for the train and there isn’t much shade to wait. Because there are many people waiting, the waiting time can get very long. Once you get oni şt şs very crowded and it goes incredibly slow.

Route

Lower Circuit (including boat tour and San Martin island)-> Upper Circuit-> Devils Throat

I think this is the best route to follow. I went to Iguazu twice; for the first time, I did the trip with this order, during the second one I did it in the reverse order. (except for San Martin Island because it was closed) Going from lower areas to upper is better in my opinion because of the angle of light. Especially, when you go to Devil’s Throat early, it can be hard to take photos because the sun is right in front of you. Plus, Devil’s Throat is always crowded so going early doesn’t give you an advantage in that sense too. There are many tour companies that take their groups to Devil’s Throat first. Relatively, following the order above can give you the advantage of visiting the lower parts with fewer people.


That is all from the Argentine side. Check out the blog post for the Brazilian side here!


Post Information:

Visiting dates: November 18-20, 2017

Last update: January 22, 2020

Translated by the author. Not a part of the TM-Translation Project.