WEEKEND TRIP TO IGUAZU FALLS
Unlike Anything Else in the World
No trip to Argentina is complete without a visit to las Cataratas del Iguazú (Iguazu Falls) which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and in 2011, it was also named one of the 7 Wonders of Nature.
There are few sights more awe-inspiring as Iguazu Falls. Stretching almost three kilometers and straddling both Argentina and Brazil, their scale, power, and beauty will most likely be one of the most memorable scenes you will experience in Argentina.
Getting to Iguazu Falls from Buenos Aires City (Capital Federal)
Argentina is a massive country and you may think there is not enough time to include it on your trip, but that’s not so! It is possible to make this trip over a long weekend.
As I only had the weekend, I wanted to maximize my time at the Falls, so I got on the plane right after my Spanish class in Buenos Aires on Friday afternoon. There are a few airlines flying from Buenos Aires City to the Iguazu falls, including:
- Latam Airlines Argentina
- Aerolineas Argentinas
- Andes Lineas Aereas
- Norwegian Airlines Argentina
Some offer direct flights from Buenos Aires to Iguazu that take just under two hours. Most of these flights will leave from the domestic airport Jorge Newbery, but a word to the wise from the voice of experience… occasionally the flight may leave from the International Airport (Ezeiza). An easy mistake which happened to a friend recently… ok, it was me! If you have the choice, definitely choose to fly from the domestic Aeroparque Jorge Newbery, which its airport code is AEP. It is located in the city, just on the north side of Palermo, a 15-20 mins. taxi ride from Vamos Spanish Academy.
If you are short on time, flying is certainly be the quickest way to travel, but be warned, air travel throughout Argentina could be expensive depending on the season, so make sure to buy in advance and before buying compare ticket prices on sites like:
However, if you have time on your side or your budget does not allow for flights, the long-distance bus, which is referred to as the ‘micro‘ locally, is an excellent alternative. Leaving from Retiro station, and taking about 18 hours you will travel through areas so different from the cosmopolitan city of Buenos Aires. Unless you’re happy to sit up for the entire journey, spend the few extra dollars and purchase the Cama ticket, which means your seat will recline completely so you have a bed! A Semi Cama will recline, but not into a flat bed. In both of these classes, you will be served a meal and refreshments.
What to do at the Iguazu Falls (Cataratas del Iguazú)
You will typically stay in Puerto Iguazu, about 20 km from the falls on the Argentinean side. Puerto Iguazú is a small and quaint town which you can easily walk to explore from one end to the other, but for going to the falls, you’ll need to take some kind of transportation, like bus or taxi. Buses run regularly (every 15-30 minutes) from the town to the Visitor Centre, where you can buy your entrance ticket for Parque Iguazú or you can buy it at the gate once you arrive at the park. You can also purchase tickets for the paseos en gamón (the boat ride under the Falls) at the Visitor Centre. I recommend you book this ticket at the same time as your entrance tickets, rather than waiting until you get to the park, as these tours fill up quickly, especially during the high season. Alternatively, you can book your boat ride tickets online. [A tip on booking the boat ride, don’t pick a time too close to your planned arrival time at the park, it takes at least 30 minutes to go directly from the main entrance to the boat ride meeting point at the Falls. And, you do want to feel relaxed and enjoy the park and its many trails, as you slowly head towards the falls for the magnificent revealing!]
Once inside the park area, you can hire an English speaking guide, but I didn’t bother and I don’t think I missed out on anything crucial. There are different walking trails which allow you to get up close to the Falls. For more information check the Parque Nacional Iguazú Website.
Once in the park, catch the Jungle Train to the Falls Station, which marks the beginning of 2 main walking trails:
- The Lower Circuit – which stretches for a little under 2 km offers possibly the best views with 8 designated lookouts. I spent a little over 2 hours on this circuit.
- Upper Circuit – once again offering spectacular views. Apparently, if you go early in the morning or later in the afternoon you have a better chance of seeing rainbows over the Falls.
You can also explore a few other Iguazu trails:
So, after you’ve explored the two main circuits, you can walk or catch the train to the Devil’s Throat station. From here it is a little over 1 km to La Garganta del Diablo (the Devil’s Throat) which is nothing short of spectacular. You can feel and hear and see the power of the falls.
Keep in mind that the Iguazu Park or Parque Nacional entrance fee includes unlimited rides on the jungle train that takes you to different parts of the park.
I covered every inch of the park on day one. I must have taken thousands of photos from the various viewing platforms and I am no photographer but they are all spectacular. That comes down to the stunning beauty of the area, not my photographic skills.
I returned on day 2 and this time took a boat trip (which I had purchased in advance) to really get up close to the so-called “Garganta del Diablo ” or The Devil’s Throat. It was absolutely exhilarating! Make sure you take a change of clothes with you as you will be drenched but thankfully it is much warmer at the Falls than in Buenos Aires, even in winter, so you won’t freeze.
After lunch, I left the park, went back to Puerto Iguazú and crossed into Brazil to see the Falls from another perspective. The view from this side is full frontal and perfect for those panoramic shots. This is where you get the best photos of the Devil’s Throat. There are great trails to follow and maps are available at the Visitor’s Centre.
The highlight of my weekend was without a doubt the helicopter flight over the Falls on the Brazilian side, which I did after a couple more hours exploring. A 10-minute flight costs about USD 120, but it was money well spent. The view was just breathtaking from above. The volume of water was mind-blowing.
If you are intending to cross to Brazil, make sure you bring all your necessary travel documents and check if you need a visa. If you don’t have a visa, check out this blog to give you the lowdown on how to organize one in Argentina. Check the visa requirements for your own country.
Where to stay in Iguazu
If you’ve got the money, splurge and stay in the park of the Argentinean side. We met a few people who had stayed at the Sheraton and they all said they could hear and see the Falls from their room. Envious? Oh, yes! If your budget does not extend to the Sheraton as ours didn’t, there are plenty of hotels and hostel to choose from in Puerto Iguazú, about 20 km from the Falls on the Argentinean side.
Here are some other affordable hostel options in Puerto Iguazu in Argentina:
- Tupa Hotel
- El Pueblito Iguazú
- La Aldea de la Selva Lodge
- Boutique Hotel de la Fonte
- Hostel Noelia
Heading to the Falls is a great mini break and with some planning, you can do it comfortably over 3 days. I decided to do my boat trip on a second day because I really wanted to explore every corner of the national park. You could for sure stick to the main trails and do the boat trip on the same visit, with that you’d save yourself half a day and go to the Brazilian side earlier. Both Argentinean and Brazilian sides have their own characteristics and they give you very different perspectives and experience of the Falls. If you have the time and budget, I highly recommend you to visit both and take part in the boat ride and helicopter ride. It is definitely one of those amazing sights that you will only visit once in your lifetime, so why not see all that you can when you are there!