Iguaçu Falls near Foz do Iguaçu
Foz do Iguaçu is a major city in the state of Paraná, Brazil. It is a gateway to both Paraguay and Argentina, and home of the famous Iguaçu Falls. Together with the cities of Ciudad del Este (Paraguay) and Puerto Iguazu (Argentina), it forms part of one the largest cultural tourism poles in South America.
Foz do Iguaçu is so named because it sits at the mouth of the Iguaçu river, discharging into Paraná river, where lies the frontier among Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina. The word Iguaçu means "large water", in Tupi-Guarani etymology.
Remember that while Brazil is mostly a tropical country, a part of it is subtropical and this is exactly where Foz do Iguaçu lies. This means that if you visit in winter (mid-year in the Southern Hemisphere), it may be quite cold - much less than in most of Europe or North America, and not all the time, but it is not impossible to get even subfreezing temperatures and frost in Foz do Iguaçu when a cold front from Antarctica hits from late April through early September. Many foreign tourists visiting Brazil make the mistake of visiting Southern Brazil (including Foz do Iguaçu) in winter without taking warm clothes and then clatter their teeth. In other times of the year, it is usually warm in Foz do Iguaçu, and can be very hot on some summer days (November-March).
Foz do Iguaçu / Cataratas International Airport (IATA: IGU) (ICAO: SBFI) is close to the city. There are frequent flights to Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Santiago de Chile etc. ATMs are available on the ground level next to Arrivals. Internet terminals and WIFI are available in the upstairs restaurant area but the WIFI can only be purchased in a 24 hour package for R$25 which is quite expensive.
Bus transportation is available to and from the most important cities in the country, and even to Argentina.
- Sao Paulo, about 15h, with at least three departures from Iguaçu at 2.30pm, 6.00pm and 7.30pm
- Rio de Janeiro, with at least one departure from Iguaçu at 6.45pm
- Curitiba, about 11h with Catarinense
- Cuiaba, about 28h with Eucatur
- Campo Grande, about 14h with Medianeira, Integração or Unesul
- Belo Horizonte, with at least one departure from Iguaçu at 3.00pm
- Florianopolis, with at least two departures from Iguaçu at 5.40pm and 8.30pm
- Santos, with at least one departure from Iguaçu at 4.00pm
- Criciúma, with at least one departure from Iguaçu at 8.30pm
- Buenos Aires, with at least three departures weekly from Iguaçu on Sundays at 1.30pm, and Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5.00pm.
Many other destinations as well.
Be warned that many Brazilians from all parts of the country go shopping for cheaper electronics, liquor and luxury goods in Paraguay, especially Ciudad del Este (both for personal use and for resale), and while chartered buses are more commonly used for that, scheduled line buses from Foz do Iguaçu are sometimes used as well. This means two things: first, that other passengers may be carrying a lot of luggage. This is not carried in the bus cabin and won't affect your comfort, but the bus trunk may be fuller than expected, increasing the risk of confusion, theft and bag damage.
Second, and more important, the Brazilian Federal Police and customs often make random raids on the road to stop and inspect buses coming from Foz do Iguaçu. This is more likely to happen in the first 100 km (60 miles) or so from Foz do Iguaçu (up to the city of Cascavel), but can happen anywhere in the state of Paraná and even in other states. According to Brazilian federal law, roads coming from international border zones are special customs areas and are subject to customs inspections as if you were at a point of entry, even though you have already been cleared by customs when entering the country.
If this happens, policemen and customs agents will be polite, won't harass you, won't be expecting bribes and won't cause you any trouble, other than maybe asking to see your ID (passport) and for you to identify and maybe open your luggage. As they won't probably speak English, they will probably leave you alone as soon as they see you don't speak Portuguese. What they are really after is Brazilians who bring contraband and who somehow slipped through customs inspection at the usually very busy and congested Friendship Bridge border crossing; even in those cases, the worst that can happen to that person is to have the purchased goods that exceed the customs quota confiscated. Treat the authorities respectfully and you won't have any problems. The only real problem is that this may cause delays to your trip.
Of course, if they catch you with illegal drugs such as marijuana or cocaine, you will be in real trouble, so don't even think of carrying any! Talking about that, since this route is also used for small-scale drug and firearms trafficking, absolutely refuse to carry any package that someone may ask you to, and make sure all your luggage is well locked.
From Curitiba, access is over the BR-227 (Curitiba - Assuncion) highway. There are 632 km of highway. Foz do Iguaçu is in the extreme west of Paraná, 640 km from Curitiba.
- From Curitiba: BR-277
- From São Paulo: BR-116/BR-277
- From Rio de Janeiro: BR-116/BR277
- A bus (No. 120, direction Aeroporto/Parque National) leaves hourly from the terminal to the entrance on Brazilian side of the falls
- It is only a short walk across the Friendship Bridge over the river Parana to Ciudad del Este. Alternatively, you can take a taxi as walking across the bridge is not recommended due to pickpocketing. You might have to ask multiple taxi drivers to get a taxi across the bridge. Locals consider the trip dangerous and might refuse it.
- Iguaçu Falls (Cataratas do Iguaçu), (Accessible with Aeroporto/Parque Nacional bus from Local Bus Terminal), . One of the most famous attractions in Brazil, the falls on the Iguaçu River have a flow capacity equal to three times that of Niagara Falls. The falls are shared between Brazil and Argentina, and each side has its own network of trails and viewpoints. The National Park on the Brazillian side runs a shuttle bus between the Visitors' Centre, the falls, and numerous outdoor tour operators, including boat rides run by Macuco Safari out to the bottom of the falls.
- Parque das Aves (Birds Park) is very close to the entrance of the falls, you can take a self-guided tour of the park to come in close contact with all different types of exotic birds. There may also be chances to hold and take pictures with the birds. The Birds Park is considered an ecological sanctuary. It is located near the Iguaçu National Park in a 17-hectare area of native woods. A paved trail leads visitors to the enormous aviaries that blend in with the forest and allow you to know approximately 900 birds from 180 species. The Park also has a butterfly section with 25 species and a reptile section as well. All of these animals can be seen from a distance of only a few meters. The Park also has a parking lot, a souvenir shop and a snack bar. It is open daily – including holidays – from 8:30AM to 5:30PM, in the winter, and from 8:30AM to 6PM, in the summer. R$25
- Itaipu Dam. The Itaipu Hydroelectric Plant is the largest electric power generator in the world and was considered to be one of the seven wonders of the modern world by the American Society of Civil Engineering. It can only be visited on a tour.
- Three Borders Landmark. The place where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay meet. Each side has its own Marco (landmark). Have a look at Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, all in the same glimpse of the eye while there are cargo freighters making their way slowly along the water. Free.
- Salto do Macuco (Tinamou Drop) (Macuco Safári). On this tour, the visitor takes trails in an open, electric vehicle, accompanied by trilingual guides over three kilometers of jungle. The vehicle stops at the beginning of a 600m trail that leads to the Salto do Macuco – with its crystal clear waters that fall from a height of 20m over rocks, forming a tiny lake. Those who do not want to descend on foot can take the same electric car to where they embark on the inflatable boat. It is an exciting adventure as the boat navigates over a canyon’s waters and gets very near the huge Garganta do Diabo falls and then receives the “wet blessing” from the Three Musketeers Falls. To get there take the Cataratas Highway to km 23, already inside the Iguaçu National Park. A hint: if you don’t want to get soaked, take a raincoat.
- Helicopter Tour, . 9am-5pm. This 10-minute tour provides a beautiful aerial view of Iguaçu National Park. It is the best way to understand the real dimensions of the Falls. Another option is to fly over the Itaipu Hydroelectric Plant. For the flight over the Iguacu falls, you need a minimum of 3 people (the helicopter can take 4 people + the pilot), but you can wait around and will usually find another group of one or two people. Price current 02 Jan 2013 R$225 pp..
- Poço Preto (Black Well). This excursion is made in a special vehicle – over a rustic 18 km trail - through the exuberant vegetation of the National Park. It lasts up to 5 hours. Specialized guides accompany the visitors who can photograph or watch birds. It is located on km 18 of BR 469 – the Cataratas Highway.
- Ciudad del Este, (The most common way to arrive is through Ponte da Amizade (Friendship Bridge) which connects Ciudad del Este in Paraguay and Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil.). The main shopping streets are Av. San Blas and Camilo Recalde, where you can buy about anything and everything. Many people come for electronics. A WARNING: If you want to buy electronics such as cellphones or cameras, the procedure shall be as follows: Ask to test the device, if it works DO NOT give it back to the shopkeeper/assistant as some of them exchange them with faulty versions or hand the box back filled with paper or other stuff but certainly not with what you just bought.
- Martignoni Pizza Parlor, Av. Paraná 3535 (downtown), ☎ (+55) 45-522 2706. Tu-Su 7pm-12pm. Pizza de rodizio: the waiters bring around a selection of meats, pastas, and (the main attraction) pizza. A nice atmosphere with an excellent variety of pizzas, including some with fruit, chocolate, and ice cream. But before dessert, try the catupiry and the tomate seco (dried tomato). R13.50.
- Boi Na Brasa, Av. Juscelino Kubitscheck (Close to Fouad Center New Time), ☎ (45) 3523 5858. Buffet with grilled meat. Buffet from R$8.
- Bufalo Branco, . The best churrascaria in town. Problaby also the most expensive. R$48.
- La Bella Pizza, Rua Xavier da Silva 648, ☎ +55 (45) 3574-2285. 17:00-late. All you can eat pizza and pasta, 40 different types including chocolate and banana pizza. $R 12-15.
- Hostel 76, Belarmino de Mendonça 521, ☎ 30284344, . A new hostel just opened in July 2012 with nice clean rooms and a buffet restaurant (lunch only). Central location one block from bars and restaurant and the bus stop for buses to Iguazu Falls, airport, and Argentina. 28.
- Favela Chic Hostel, 78, Rue Major Raul de Mattos (Take bus 120 from Terminal Urbano; get off at the first stop on Cateratas, the street going to the falls. 10 meters to de Mattos street from the bus stop.), ☎ (0055)45 3027-5060 (firstname.lastname@example.org). checkout: 11:00(ish).  Opened in March 2012; really nice and clean hostel. Friendly English owner, Nick, with tons of ideas, information and a big welcome. Great concept, beautiful surroundings. Comfy hang out areas, nice bar, hammocks. 28 Reals for a dorm bed (air con, bathroom inside). Price includes full English breakfast! Tents and camping space available..
- Hostel Backpacker, Rua Tarobá 827 (Downtown, 3 blocks from TTU urban bus terminal), ☎ (45) 3027-2500 (email@example.com). Friendly staff. Nice breakfast included. Internet. Conveniently located in the city center. Booking for organized tours to Iguaçu Falls possible. Dorm from R$30.
- Pousada El Shaddai, Rua Engenheiro Reboucas 306, Foz de Iguacu, . Phone +55 45 30254493, email contato(at)pousadaelshaddai.com.br. Dorms from R$22.00, doubles from R$60.00, incl breakfast buffet, swimming pool, kitchen use. Clean and friendly. Quiet and central location near amenities like banks, supermarkets, restaurants, launderettes.
- Albergue Paudimar Campestre (Av. das Cataratas). Twelve kilometres outside Foz do Iguaçu on the way to the Brazilian side of the falls, it's more a mini-resort than a hostel. It offers free internet, budget meals and also has a swimming pool and bar. They also arrange tours to the Argentinean side of the falls. Half the taxi fair from the bus terminal is returned if you go with two or more persons and stay at least two days. Look for the stand at the bus terminal.
- Hostel Natura, Av. das Cataratas, KM 12,5 - Bairro Remanso Grande, ☎ +55 (45) 3529-6949 (hostel) / +55 (45) 9116-0979 (mobile), . The hostel is located close to the Albergue Paudimar Campestre, some way outside the city. It's small, quiet, clean and has two ponds where you can swim (besides the swimming pool). It offers free internet (WiFi), has a small kitchen to use and a small bar with pool, tabletop soccer and TV. The staff is very friendly and helps you planning your visit to the falls. Dorms and Doubles from R$38.00, with air condition. (-25.605055,-54.524729)
- Your Place Hostel, Rua Joaquim Firmino,222., ☎ (45) 3029 2462 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Free breakfast. Close to the bars and commerce area. Staying here you can easily catch direct buses to the main touristic places. Dorm from R$23.
- Nadai Confort Hotel, Av. República Argentina, 1334, ☎ +55 (45) 3521-5050, . The Nadai Confort Hotel boasts a privileged position among the main avenues of the central area and the green preservation space belonging to the Brazilian army. Offers a number of options for leisure and facilities for its businesses.
- Pousada Sonho Meu, Rua Men de Sá, 267 - Centro (very close to the bus station, there are signs at the station showing the way), ☎ +55 45 3573-5764 (email@example.com), . Family-run, friendly pousada, conveniently located next to the bus terminal (it's not like anyone visits Foz to hang out in the city anyway). The breakfast buffet is excellent, and there's a swimming pool and even a tiny gym. Doubles from R$120.
- Hotel San Rafael, Rua Almirante Barroso No 1660, Foz de Iguaçu, Brazil. 85851-010. A pleasant hotel with friendly staff. You can hire their tour guide, Val, who will gladly take you to both sides of the falls. Hotel includes a gym and pool, which is needed as it gets very hot in Iguaçu in summer. Breakfast is included and there is a superb buffet in the evenings for 20 Reals a head. Also very close to the main shops in Foz do Iguaçu, where all the bargains are.
- Hotel Panorama & Acquamania Resort, Avenida das Cataratas, s/n, Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil. 85853-000. http://www.hotelpanoramaresort.com.br With an excelent infrastructure for leisure and accommodation, the Resort offers 155 anti-alergic rooms with ceramic tiled floor and 102 rooms with Balcony. The Resort is surrounded by woods and gardens, in a green area of 130.000 m² of native forests and tropical gardens. Next to the hotel you can find Acquamania, a water park with pools, toboggans and buoy-cross.
- Iguaçu Falls- Obviously the most important attraction nearby Foz do Iguaçu. The world-famous falls.
- Puerto Iguazu- On the argentinian side of the border, offers acces de the argentinian side of the falls and a number of cassinos and shopping.