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Iguaçu Falls

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Paraná : Iguaçu Falls
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One of the great natural wonders of the world, the Iguaçu Falls (Portuguese: Cataratas do Iguaçu, Spanish: Cataratas del Iguazú, Tupi: Y Ûasu "big water") are situated near the border of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. The area is on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Iguaçu falls from the Argentine side, with Isla San Martin on the left

Get in

The Tri-Border

Access to the Falls is usually done through one of the three cities in the so-called tri-border between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.

The city on the Brazilian side is Foz do Iguaçu - big, but less secure. The town on the Argentine side is called Puerto Iguazu and is small and pretty. Although the falls are between Brazil and Argentina only, Ciudad del Este, the city on the Paraguayan side, is just across the bridge from Brazil. It's a hectic (but exciting) centre for contraband and cheap electronic goods.

Border crossing between these countries is fairly relaxed - authorities assume most people are on a day trip across the border and won't even stamp your passport. So, if you are crossing into another country for good, you will have to persuade them to stamp you passport (otherwise you could run in to problems later). US passport holders may require a visa to visit the Brazilian side of the falls.

By plane

From Foz do Iguaçu there are frequent flights to Rio de Janeiro etc. From Puerto Iguazu there are daily flights to Buenos Aires

By Bus

On the Brazilian side, Foz do Iguaçu is about seven hours by bus from Curitiba. From Puerto Iguazu there are several daily buses to Buenos Aires and Posadas and from Ciudad del Este there are lots of buses to Asuncion.

Get around

There are hourly (or so) buses between Foz do Iguaçu and Puerto Iguazu and Ciudad del Este. There are also hourly (or so) buses between Foz do Iguaçu and the Brazilian side of the falls and twice hourly (or so) between Puerto Iguazu and the Argentine side of the falls. If you want ride busses from one side of the falls to the other, you will have to take 3 separate buses.

It is only a short walk across the Friendship Bridge over the river Parana between Foz do Iguaçu and Ciudad del Este.

Alternatively, you can take a taxi.

See

Iguaçu falls (Devil's Throat) from the Brazilian side
The View From Isla San Martin

The Iguaçu Falls are an awesome sight as tons of water throw themselves over cliffs and the mist rises amongst the jungle. They are taller than Niagara Falls, and twice as wide, for which Eleanor Roosevelt is said to have exclaimed on her first sight of the Falls: "Poor Niagara!"

It is well worth spending a day on each side of the falls.

On the Argentine side (30 AR$ pp, second day for half price if you get your ticket stamped before leaving on the first day, subsequent days are free if you tell them you are staying at the Sheraton) there are a whole series of walkways and trails by the main visitors centre, allowing you to stand right on the edge of the precipice, below some of the waterfalls themselves, see a good overview and take a short boat trip to Isla San Martin below the falls. Wear waterproofs and protect your camera!

There is a free train running up to a 1km-long walkway across the river to stand just back from the main horseshoe of falls - the Devil's Throat (Garganta del Diablo), where the roar and spray are tremendous.

On the Brazilian side (20 R$ pp, cheaper for Brazilian residents) you get an excellent overview of Devil's Throat and the rest of the falls, from both above and below.

Do

Spectacular boat trips can be made under the falls, but are kind of pricy if you take the Safaris offered on the Brazilian side of the Falls. If you go all the way to the "Las Cateratas" station on the Brazilian side, you will be offered e.g. wildwater rafting & abseiling activities at better rates. When you arrive shortly before the activities close for the day or they're just not busy you can easily bargain about the price and get a really good rate!

From the Argentine side:

  • Iguazu Jungle Explorer, info@iguazujunglexplorer.com, [1]: offers excellent trips, including boat rides, around the falls.

Buy

On the Brazilian side of the falls you can buy souvenirs, but they are very expensive compared to the souvenirs you can buy on the main road of Foz do Iguaçu. There are some very cheap shops along this road, including a gift shop with many hand-crafted crystal goods.

Eat

On the Argentina side, there is a really nice hotel that serves a good buffet. You can see the mist coming out of the falls and also generally see toucans and other birds flying around.

On the Brazil side, there's a buffet that stands right next to the throat. The food is good, the view of the river makes for a surreal sight as you know the falls are really close by but you can't really see them other than the mist and the noise.

  • '"Martignoni Pizza Parlor"', Av. Paraná, 3535 (Downtown Center), Telephone: +55 045 522-2706. Tu-Su 7 PM-12AM. 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. R13.50.
  • 'La Rueda', Av. Cordoba (Puerto Iguazu)

Excellent food, and probably the nicest restaurant in Puerto Iguazu aesthetically. The Pollo al Diablo (Chicken Devil's Style) is delicious. English is spoken, great for lousy spanish speakers like myself.

Drink

At Puerto Iguazu you can go to "La Barranca", nice place near both rivers and the Three Frontiers Landmark (Marco das três fronteira), nice people and live music at weekends. In Foz do Iguaçu there are a few nice nightclubs at the city center.

Sleep

Budget

  • 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.
  • Camping El Viejo Americano - 5 km outside of Puerto Iguazu on the Argentine side of the falls. Very cheap and great for both camping (bring a tent and your gear!) and staying in the bungalows (costs extra). You can get there by bus (take bus heading towards the falls) or by taxi (which will cost a bit more). There are pools, a restaurant, convenience store and soccer fields, which are all very well maintained. Many fire pits for barbecues and other niceties. Bugs galore so bring Off or other bug repellent.
  • Hostel El Güembé [2]. El Urú 120, Puerto Iguazú. 03757-421035. (info@elguembe.com.ar). Small, friendly and relaxed hostel, offering both shared and private rooms. In a very nice, tranquil and green part of town, only 5 min. from the bus terminal.
  • Hostería Los Helechos, Paulino Amarante 76, Puerto Iguazú. 03757-420338. Excellent and comfortable hostel. Very centrally located, just two blocks from the bus station. Lots of facilities including swimming pool.
  • 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. 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 Tierra Colorada, El Urú 28, Puerto Iguazú. 03757-420649. Pleasant and friendly small hotel, comfortable rooms.
  • Residencial Uno, Fray Luis Beltrán 116, Puerto Iguazú. 03757-420529. (residencialuno@gmail.com). Warm and comfortable guest house in the heart of Puerto Iguazú. It offers private rooms, free internet access & wi-fi area, swimming pool, air conditioner, BBQ area, Cable TV & DVD lounge, among others services. Two blocks from the bus station and less than 5 minutes from downtown.

Splurge

  • Sheraton Internacional Iguazú Resort, Iguazú 3370, (54)(3757)491800. [3] Amazing location within the national park, walk to the Argentinean falls. Newly remodeled pool/ gym/ spa area. Observation deck on the roof. English speaking. 180 rooms. double jungle view/ falls view $205 US/ $265 US per night. Be sure to keep your patio door closed in the early morning, or the monkeys may steal things.

Get out

  • From Ciudad del Este or Foz do Iguaçu you can visit the Itaipu Dam - one of the largest dams and the biggest hydroelectric powerplant in the world. They now charge an entrance fee of R13.00, or you can take the more extensive inside tour for R30.00. For R13.00, expect a brief movie, a quick tour in a bus, and a bit of propaganda.
  • Between Puerto Iguazu and Posadas the red sandstone ruins of the Jesuit mission of San Ignacio are well worth a visit.


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