Iguazu Falls: What You Must Know When Visiting.
If I had to describe my travels to South America with only one word, it would be eye-opening. The time spent there was eye-opening in so many ways and I remember everything as it was only yesterday and not four months ago. Not only did I finally see my last one of the New7Wonders of the World, I also saw another one of the New7Wonders of Nature: After the Table Mountain in South Africa one year ago, it was time to visit the Iguazu Falls.
Wait, what are the New7Wonders of Nature again? As I couldn’t have explained it better what the New7Wonders of Nature stand for, I’ll copy-paste you the text found at the entrance of Iguazu Falls on the Argentina side.
“Elected by the second global voting campaign in the history of mankind via the internet and telephony marking the beginning of the third millennium and celebrating nature’s diversity. (…) May these become symbols of unity that respect and celebrate the diversity of our planet.”
Being spoiled for choice
or Argentina vs. Brazil
Before departing towards Iguazu Falls I asked myself the question everybody will probably asks himself when planning a trip to Iguazu: which side is more beautiful/astonishing/impressive?
Both are beautiful, yet so different. What they both have in common: I’ve never seen so many rainbows at a time!! And I have also never seen more waterfalls at one place. No wonder, the Iguazu Falls are the largest waterfalls system in the world. 275 waterfalls, to be exact. What makes them also special is their location: right on the border between province of Missones in Argentina and the state of Paraná in Brazil.
I read a lot of times that that the Argentinian side of the Iguazu Falls was much better. I’m afraid I can not fully go along with that. Visiting both sides I can see why a lot of people came to that conclusion. Still, I think the world is not only black or white. Comparing the two sides would be like comparing Airbus to Boeing, if you know what I mean. ✈
If your time is limited, this article or pictures might help you to decide what side is the good one for you. 🙂 I would probably opt for the Argentinian side, as we had a closer view with the multiple paths there. Nevertheless, I also really liked the Brazilian side a lot and my most favorite spot was in fact on the Brazilian side. So as everything in life, it is a question about taste, but you can’t go wrong with either one. 😉
When visiting Iguazu Falls on the Brazil side you would go on one long trail leading you to that beautiful spot, seen on the picture above. But while walking the trail you would see most of the waterfalls from a greater distance. They are still quite nice, but that distance gave me the impression of not really being “in the middle” and actually visiting the waterfalls. Only at the end of the trail you could get really close to the waterfalls. I got rewarded with a mesmerizing view and that was what I truly liked about the Brazil side of that World Wonder. Small hint: be careful with your electronic devices as there is really a lot of water and you are getting super close. Depending on the wind and where you go, you might be soaked to the skin.
You can walk up to a platform to see the spectacle from above. When I was there (mid/end November 2016) I had to wait in a queue for quite some time to finally be able to go up. The view is nice, but I would recommend you to skip it if you do not have much time.
Culinary-wise you could find açaí bowl and Guaraná Antarctica* in all the restaurants there. Both always bring me in that Brazil mood. 🙂 Oh, speaking of food, be aware of the quatis! Those furry animals might look cute and totally adorable, but they are super pushy and sneaky when it comes to food. They climb into waste bins and open the lids, just to look for something to eat. We even watched them stealing a burger from the tray on a table in the outside seating area. Within a second the burger was gone and what was left behind was a perplex (and probably hungry) woman. Needless to say, she was not so happy about giving away her lunch. So better keep an eye on your lunchbox. 😉
*Açaí bowl can be compared to frozen yogurt full of antioxidants. It is made out of the frozen superfood açaí and tastes like a delicious berry smoothie bowl. You can either have it on its own or topped with strawberries, bananas and/or granola.
Guaraná Antarctica is a guarana-flavored carbonated soft drink and I like to think of it as a Brazil version of my favorite energy drink.
The huge difference between Argentina and Brazil was that in Argentina I felt more like looking down inside the waterfalls, while in Brazil I had more the impression of standing kind of under the waterfalls. But I was on the Argentina side on day number two after having seen the Brazil side. Therefore it completed the picture of the Iguazu Falls.
What I liked on the Argentinian side was the fact that you could hike to multiple spots and see the waterfalls from really close and several different angles. There were a couple of trails you could walk and several photo stops. The area was rather big and they provided a small railway to get from one trail to the other if you did not feel like walking.
Food-wise I found it hard finding something vegan to eat inside the park and I looked desperately for a bite to eat. After a while I asked in a small bistro that offered freshly prepared sandwiches for two cheese-sandwiches without cheese and butter. Well, that were basically plain slices of toast with a slice of tomato and a salad leaf, haha. I’m not complaining, since the other option would have been chips that wouldn’t have filled me at all. 🙂 But if you are a vegan I would suggest you to bring some snacks.
How to cross the border
It was super easy and hassle-free to go from one side to the other. We took a taxi from our hotel in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil for the equivalent of 25USD to Puerto Iguazú, Argentina. Not sure if you could have bargained, but the price felt adequate to us.
When reaching the Brazilian border, we quickly had to get out of the car and had our passports stamped. We could leave our luggage in the car, which was very convenient. At the Argentinian border we stopped directly at the customs house. We gave our passports to our driver who handed it over to the customs officer. Since they neither checked us nor our luggage, we could stay inside the car and they let us pass. As a result it took us 30 minutes to cross the border and get from one hotel to the other.
Where to stay
In Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil we stayed at The Nacional Inn Iguaçu. It was super easy accessible from the airport (bus 201 if I’m not mistaken) and the bus did not really cost a fortune (around 3-4BRL). The hotel was modern, clean and had a good shower. Even the breakfast buffet offered some fresh fruits.
We stayed two nights in Puerto Iguazú. The first night we stayed at the Nuevo Hotel Misiones. Unfortunately I can not really recommend anything about that place. I will mention it anyways, just in case you are about to look for a place to stay in that area. 😉 After one night we changed the accomodation and spoilt ourselves with something more neat. The Grand Hotel Tourbillon & Lodge was what we needed after two days of chasing waterfalls and walking miles and miles at 30 degrees celsius all day. In that case it meant a semi-private pool, a clean room with aircondition and a proper shower. Breakfast-wise I can not say anything, as we took an early-bird flight to Buenos Aires the next day and had breakfast at the airport. In my case that was cheese sandwich without butter and cheese again. 😉
Why am I so picky about the shower? Well, since we were quite active during the day and mostly used our accomodations only for when we slept and to unpack, I don’t care much about a good TV, roomservice or fancy minibar. But a proper shower and fast WiFi are making the deal. 😉
Have been to the Iguazu Falls before?
Are you Team Argentina or Team Brazil?
If you have any other questions,
please let me know in the comments below.
I’m happy to answer them!