Puerto Iguazú is a town in northeast Argentina that’s home to the Iguazú Falls and not much else. The falls extend 80 meters high at their tallest and are one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The Iguazú Falls straddle the Argentina-Brazil border and there’s a national park on each side. The Argentinian side has more trails and the Brazilian side only has a 1 km trail to a viewing platform. On the trails, you’ll encounter many coatis, lizards, and if it’s not too hot, toucans.
Every day I was there during January, it was 100°F and humid causing me to question why I took the 22-hour bus here. You’ll want to start your day very early to avoid the oppressive afternoon heat. The falls are spectacular, but you do need to dedicate 3-4 days between travel and visiting the falls for 1-2 hours of viewing the main attraction.
*All prices are in USD due to Argentina’s high inflation*
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How to Get to Puerto Iguazú, Argentina
Puerto Iguazú is not close to anything in Argentina. There are daily flights from Buenos Aires and a few flights per week from Salta and Córdoba. They advertise the bus ride from Buenos Aires to be 18 hours, but mine took over 22 hours.
Bookaway is a great resource that allows you to compare the prices of both buses and flights, and secure your seat in advance!
When to Visit
Like much of northern Argentina, Puerto Iguazú is very hot from December to March. Tack on the oppressive humidity, and it’s not a fun place to be during the summer. I even had a few Argentinians laugh at me for visiting in January because they would never visit Puerto Iguazú then. You’ll want to think about your tolerance for intense heat when deciding whether to visit.
Where to Exchange Money
Turismo Dick offers a very good blue market rate for buying pesos. If you forget to buy reals (R$) in Puerto Iguazú, you can do it at the supermarket near the bus station on the Brazilian side called Super Maffato. If you plan to stay in Brazil, exchange all your leftover dollars here because it’s a better rate than I found in São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro.
How to Get to the National Park
From the main terminal, there are regular buses to the national park on the Argentinian and Brazilian sides. The buses to the Argentinian side run every 30 minutes and cost $1.75 for the 25-minute ride. They leave every hour to the Brazilian side and it costs $2.50, although they do not go directly to the national park.
What to Do
Devil’s Throat – The main viewing platform of the waterfalls is absolutely incredible. The force of the falls, rainbows arching across the river, and a series of side waterfalls along the cliffs make this place so majestic. The heat and humidity of Iguazú had me questioning if it was worth the 22-hour bus ride and the Devil’s Throat made the trip 100% worth it. Thankfully, the mist from the waterfalls keeps you cool so you can enjoy the spectacular view and take your pictures.
I recommend coming here last, otherwise, anything else you see will be disappointing. There’s a free train inside the park that takes you within a 10-minute walk of the platform.
The national park entrance fee is $14.50. If you go back for a second day and show your ticket from the prior day, you get 50% off.
Full Moon Walk – 5 nights a month when there’s a full moon there are tours to visit the Devil’s Throat. It can be an incredible experience or a dud, depending on the weather. Before we got on the train, the guides said that due to the clouds we can get a refund or continue on the tour. We only had a minute to decide and they said there’s no guarantee there will be open slots for the following night, so we continued on. The clouds did indeed block the moon for the duration of the experience and in hindsight, a refund would’ve been better.
It costs $69 and it does sell out, so you will want to monitor the availability a couple of weeks in advance. You must pay with a card, so you can’t take advantage of the blue dollar.
Superior and Inferior Circuit – Each of these trails is about 1.5 km long and has viewing platforms along the way. The Inferior Circuit offers more shade than the Superior.
Macuco Trail – A 7 km trail that leads to smaller waterfalls. It’s a good trail to get away from the crowds, but there may or may not be waterfalls flowing depending on the season. When I visited the falls were dried up due to drought, so I’d ask a staff member before starting down this trail.
Güirá Oga – If you have extra time away from the waterfalls, this nature reserve has pumas and toucans, among other animals. The entrance is $5.50 and it includes a 90-minute guided tour in Spanish. If you are short on time, make a reservation because there are limited slots for each tour.
Visit the Brazilian Side – The Brazilian side has much less distance to cover on the trails and offers panoramic views of the falls. On the Argentinian side, you’ll be above the falls and at the point where the falls empty into the river. On the Brazilian side, you’ll be further down the river and at eye level with the falls. The cost is R$107 ($20) and the payment is by card only.
If you need to notify your bank of travel plans, make sure to add Brazil to the list of countries you’ll be visiting. You don’t want to be stuck outside the park with a credit card that’s getting declined.
Parque Das Aves has exotic birds and reptiles and it’s just a short walk from the national park. I’d say Parque Das Aves is more worthy of a visit than Güira Ogá. The entrance is R$70 ($13).
How to Cross to the Brazilian Side
You can either take a taxi or bus to cross the border. The bus takes a long time and it’s a bit complicated. If you go by bus, you need to exchange pesos for reals in Puerto Iguazú because the bus on the Brazilian side is cash only. If you hire a taxi in Puerto Iguazú, there’s no need to change currency. The taxi should cost about $25 round trip.
You need R$10/person for the buses in Brazil. Hourly buses leave the Puerto Iguazú Terminal for the Foz do Iguaçu Terminal on the half-hour. At the Foz do Iguaçu Terminal you need to change buses to get to the national park. The bus took about an hour and a half each way compared to 30 minutes by taxi, but this is very dependent on how busy the border crossing is on a given day.
Upon returning to the Foz do Iguaçu Terminal, go to the green bus stop on the street behind the terminal marked for international departures. Here you will find a bus that goes back to the terminal on the Argentinian side.
What to Bring to the National Park
- Bug spray (you can contract dengue fever in Iguazú)
- Water bottle (free refill stations on the Argentinian side of the park)
- Bring snacks because the food at the park is relatively expensive
Where to Eat
Shawarma Alsultan – Shawarma and Arabian style empanadas at a very good price.
La Mamma Pastas and Salsas – Homemade pasta along with traditional empanadas.
Restaurante La Rueda – A nicer restaurant with steak, pasta, and seafood. Don’t feel the need to dress up because many people show up in their national park attire.
Where to Stay
Steve’s House – A hostel with comfortable air-conditioned dorms and a pool to cool off in.
Habitaciones Panchita – This is the ultimate budget option. It has hot water, air conditioning, and a good location. The private rooms are tiny but very affordable.
How Long to Stay
3 days is recommended in Puerto Iguazú to visit the national parks in Argentina and Brazil, but I would’ve been content with 1 day on each side of the border. I felt that the trails on the Argentinian side were nothing special and have more of an amusement park vibe than a feeling of being in nature.
Where to Next
Salta (2-hour flight) – A beautiful colonial city with one of the best museums in all of South America and lively folk music dinner parties.
Buenos Aires (2-hour flight or 20-hour bus) – A food paradise with European influence and exciting cultural events including street parties, tango shows, and interactive dining experiences.
Córdoba (2-hour flight or 24-hour bus) – An energetic city with a huge student population that’s popular for a night out.