Travel Advice

Iguaz˙ Falls

Home
Berlin, Budapest, Prague
Iceland, Greenland
Argentina: Buenos Aires and Iguaz˙ Falls
Europe - General
Italy
London
Paris
Portugal
Spain
Latin America
Puerto Vallarta
United States
Canada
Canadian Rockies
Scandinavia
Russia
Africa, Mid East
Asia
General Info
Travel with Kids
Adventure Travel
Travel Writings
Iguazú Falls
Iguaz˙ Falls are on the border of Argentina and Brazil, about a two-hour plane ride from Buenos Aires, which is the best place to get to the falls.  The Aerolineas Argentina jets fly from the convenient local airport.
 
For Americans right now, seeing the falls, as many others do, from both sides of the border is not worth the trouble.  Brazil now requires US citizens to obtain a visa before entering the country, a process that takes a visit to a consulate and about $100.  We felt no disadvantage at all in being confined to the Argentina side.
 
Very important:  make every effort to book rooms in the Sheraton.  This is the one hotel in the national park itself, and is the starting and end points for all falls activities.  It will save you considerable time and trouble to be right there.  All the other hotels, of varying quality, are outside the park, 10 or 15 miles away.  There are a few things to do in town, but if you are lucky enough to be in the Sheraton, there is no reason at all to go to town.  (Falls-view rooms go for a premium, but don't be disappointed if you get a garden-view room:  there are plenty of public spaces with a falls view.)
 
While some people manage to fly in, see the falls, and then fly out the next day, two days are standard.  That allows a leisurely visit to the falls.  We arrived in early afternoon, took it easy the rest of the day, then began our tour around 8 am the next morning.  It lasted until about 1:30 pm.
 
Staying at the Sheraton, it would be very possible to see the falls without a formal tour.  There is a short walk to a train that has a number of stops with paths to various parts of the falls.  What we did, and what most tourists did, was follow a guide who showed us the way, but there was almost no need to explain anything at all about this natural wonder, and the trails were well-maked.  (For us, staying outside the park, the tour had the additional advantage of providing transport to and from the park, as well as the two airport transfers.)
 
We had been warned in Buenos Aires that the tour guides would try to get us to pay extra for the "Big Adventure," an add-on to the tour involving another train ride and then a harrowing boat ride by the falls.  We were told this was a waste of time, and maybe unsafe.  Instead, we took a scaled down boatride that came at the end of the visit, that got us just as wet as the other ride, took us right to the falls and cost a lot less than the Big Adventure.  I would recommend this approach, but you may need to be insistent with your tour guide to make your intentions clear.  (It also would be no problem taking this boat ride if you visited the falls without a tour guide.)
 
This is a jungle, and the jungle is very hot, year in and year out.  There is water to buy along the way, but take some of your own.  We saw monkeys, and we were told that there are tigers and other predators.  At the time of the full moon, there are moonlight walks.  I am not sure if that is a good idea.
 
The walks are mostly flat, but there is a downhill and an uphill stretch to go to water level, for those who want to take the boat.  That was a little steep at times, and after the boatride, somewhat disorienting.  Most of the walking is on well-maintained paths or catwalks.  The tourists get very close to the falls at various points.
 
Paraguay is nearby, but we were told to avoid visiting there.  What you will find is a classic border town, with a black market of goods, whose origins are not hard to guess.  You can, however, view where all three countries come together a few minutes' walk away from the Hotel Esturiˇn, our hotel where we stayed in town.  (We can't recommend it until all the rooms are renovated.)
 
There is not much to buy in Iguaz˙ itself, but the hotel gift shops have items generally at a lower price than in Buenos Aires.
 
We were visiting during the week before Easter, the busiest week of the year.  Our internet-based efforts to arrange air travel and lodging came to nought, so we turned to a local travel agency, travelnow.com.  They solved our problems, but it took a number of days.  We paid by pre-paid voucher.  Somehow, the cost of the tour, the transfers to and from the park and to and from the airport at the Iguaz˙ end were not separately charged; they were rolled into the hotel and/or the airline prices.  These prices were not at any discount from what I had found on the web, but they were able to offer more choices that what I found there.  I would recommend contacting them again.
 
I have not said enough about the falls, but really, all I can say is that this was one of the most memorable visits of our lives.  The volume is less than that of Niagra, but the cascades fall farther and are spread out through a large area -- they go on and on.  The setting in the jungle is dramatic and exotic.  I would recommend this visit to any, except those who have a physical disability.
 
Iguazu Falls