Listed as one of the seven wonders of the natural world, Iguazu Falls is the largest waterfall in the world, with the longest drop plummeting an impressive 82 metres. With access available from both Brazil and Argentina, the question was raised, which side does it better?
To answer this question, we’ve teamed up with fellow Aussie travellers, Mallory and Dan to get the inside scoop.
Justin and I were staying in Ciudad del Este (CDE), Paraguay and while that meant we had access to both sides of the falls (CDE borders both Brazil and Argentina), we only had the budget to see one. Eager to experience a small piece of Brazil, we decided to check out the northern side from Foz do Iguaçu.
Now, as Australians, we technically require a visa to enter Brazil. A very expensive, AUD $216 a pop visa that for one day was not economical. However, Paraguay has a very loose border control system allowing Brazilians and Argentinians to cross freely, meaning as long as we weren’t caught, we too could cross ‘Friendship Bridge’ for the day.
(NB: Global Runaways does not endorse illegally crossing borders without the correct visa and documentation. Doing so is at your own risk so, understand the consequences before deciding to follow suit).
Getting to Foz do Iguaçu from Ciudad del Este was very easy. From the bus terminal or before the bridge, jump on any bus marked ‘Foz do Iguaçu’. Tickets are 9,000 Guarani or 5.25 Real, both currencies are accepted and the bus will drop you off outside the terminal on the other side of the river.
From Foz do Iguaçu terminal, jump on the 120 bus (3.30 Real) which will stop directly at the entrance to the Iguazu Falls National Park. Entrance was 63.30 Real and included transport in an open air, double decker bus.
The bus stops at the beginning of the walking path, and it’s an immediate WOW factor. The falls are right there in all their glory and if you’re lucky like us, you’ll spot a toucan in the hollow of the tree at the view point.
One poor lady got more than she bargained for when a coati (member of the racoon family), decided to rummage through her handbag that she’d ignorantly left on the ground. Signs all through the park warn of nasty bites from this cuddly looking creatures so, she got away lightly.
Following the path, we had fantastic and uninterrupted views of the waterfalls. The path was very easy to navigate and it wasn’t too crowded either. One section allows for the opportunity to walk out into the falls but, as we had forgotten our ponchos, we walked as far as we could without getting too wet before turning back.
At the end of the path there is of course a gift shop and the opportunity for more selfies right up close to the largest section of the waterfall. An elevator is also available to take you to the top of the falls for a birds eye view.
It is possible to continue walking from here a little further around to the see the quiet side of the river and with cafes, restaurants, and bathroom facilities on site. In total, visiting the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls should take no longer than 3 hours.
Optional tours are available along the bus route including; hiking, boat rides, bicycle hire or a helicopter ride but, we didn’t feel it necessary to do any of these extra activities. Instead, we sampled Brazilian beer and sent a couple of postcards to the family back home.
We also used the money we saved on forgoing the activities to visit Parque de Aves, one of the most beautiful bird parks we have ever visited. Half the birds here have been rescued from terrible situations and the other half were bred in captivity. What we loved most was the fact most of the aviaries were walk-through so we get up close and personal for photos without cage wire in the way. Entrance to the bird park was 36 Real.
Overall, the Brazilian side was extremely organised, professional and a wonderful experience, if not the lazy way to see the falls! It was also country #40 for me and I got to do it as an illegal immigrant! Winning!
(1 Brazilian Real = USD $0.30)
Dan and I stayed in Puerto Iguazu, Argentina where hostels were abound. You can expect to pay around $150 AR per person though ours even had a beautiful blue pool to relax in with some beers after walking around all day at the national park!
The bus terminal has services running every half hour to the falls however, we’d met two lovely amigos at our hostel and opted to share a cab for the same price. This also saved us time as it took 20 minutes compared to the bus which can take around an hour.
Once you enter the park, the first thing you notice is the tranquillity and peacefulness around you. The whole area is a giant national park and I think this is one of its most enticing features.
When you first arrive you will be given a map showing you all of the walking trails and train routes. There are at least 6 walks to do and in the 8 hours we were there we only got through 3!!!! So, definitely get there early and make the most of the whole day of walking and wildlife spotting.
To get to the main falls, head to the small train platform (trains come every hour) heading to the Devil’s Throat. When you disembark you get the absolute joy of ambling across stunning walkways which meander across the river for about half an hour leading up to the jaw dropping photo inspiring falls! You will need at least 45mins before you will be able to tear yourself away and head back to the train.
From here, you can do some smaller walks to see the other part of the falls, which is also a must do. There are about 8 waterfalls in a row with magical rainbows in them and swallows darting playfully into the fray! You can walk to the bottom and top of these.
From this walk you can also get a small ferry over to an island in the middle of the river to explore (the last one is at 3pm) and there is also a speed boat right up to the Devil's Throat (you will need to book this activity at the main entry gate and take a different track). For similar reasons to Krystelle, we didn't feel the need to do any extra activities, the falls really are enough in themselves.
The reason I would highly reccomened the Argentinian side is because of the wildlife. As the whole place is a national park the wildlife abounds. We saw so many many beautiful and exotic birds, huge fish, so many butterflies of different colours and patterns, lizards, a stick insect, an armadillo and many coatis (they truly are cute but cheeky animals. As we were walking into the park one ran up and sliced through our friend’s plastic bag to grab out his bananas!). So all in all, the Argentinian side has so much to offer in one action packed day and if you run out of time to see it all, you can get your ticket validated to return for half price the next day! They don’t do that on the Brazil side.
*Please note, all photographs for the Argentine side of the falls have been provided by Mallory & Dan and are not the property of Global Runaways.
(Argentinian Peso = USD $0.063)
So which is better? Brazil or Argentina? It actually doesn’t matter! Which ever side you choose to visit, just know you are going to have a fabulous time exploring the beauty of this seventh wonder. So, go! Get ut there and see it.
Travel safe x
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