I thought I've seen the most epic waterfall in the world already when I was in Zambia visiting Victoria Falls, and there was no way any waterfall could top that, and then I arrived in Iguazu Falls and was blown away by its sheer beauty.
While Victoria Falls has the title of the largest waterfall in the world based on its combined width, Iguazu Falls is in its own league earning the title of the largest waterfall system in the world with several massive waterfalls all concentrated in this one area.
To see the Iguazu Falls for the first time, is to see nature at its finest and no trip to South America is completed without visiting Iguazu Falls. To do that, here is a complete backpacking guide on everything you need to know to visit Iguazu Falls, both on the Argentinian side and Brazilian side.
Looking for a complete guide to Chile and Argentina? 2 Months Argentina & Chile Itinerary.
- Iguazu Falls Itinerary Map
- Argentina Video
- When to Visit Iguazu Falls
- Where to Stay in Iguazu Falls
- Travel Insurance
- How to Get to Iguazu Falls
- Transportation Around Iguazu Falls
- Iguazu Falls Entrance Tickets
- Things to Prepare for Iguazu Falls
- 3 Days Iguazu Falls Itinerary
- Further Reading for Argentina
Iguazu Falls Itinerary Map
When to Visit Iguazu Falls
Visiting during February and March is recommended with the water level still quite high and the sky is clear. Be warned that it will be humid during this time but you will be cool off by the spray from the waterfall in no time when you are face-to-face with the Falls.
Where to Stay in Iguazu Falls
Let's be real, the Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls is better than either Paraguay's or Brazilian side so I would recommend staying on the Argentinian side instead. Here are great recommendations for where to stay near Iguazu Falls on the Argentinian side:
Budget - Hostel Bambu Mini - 14.52 USD/Night (Dorm Room)
Air-con in the dorm which is essential due to the extreme humidity of this area. Plenty of international plugs sockets, enough for everyone in the dorm, for once! Built-in restaurant and bar, and located in the quiet area of the city.
Mid-Range - Petit Hotel Si Mi Capitan - 37.5 USD/Night (Double/Twin Room)
Traveling here, on average, will cost you more than traveling in most countries out there. You can expect to spend around 45 - 65 USD per day per person with food, accommodation and transportation.
Keep in mind that this is just a suggested daily budget based on my style of traveling, which is leaning more toward the budget side of things. If you want to stick to this budget, expect to sleep in dorms, eat out only a few times, and be comfortable using the cheapest and most convenient way of transportation, which often times involves walking.
If you are looking for travel insurance to go along with your trip to Argentina and Brazil, I would recommend WorldNomads.com, which is what I use to look for a travel insurance that fits my kind of adventure. Be sure to look for one that covers accidents at high altitude of 5000m at least.
Wifi in Puerto Iguazu is good enough but if you would like to be connected in Iguazu national park, you can buy a local sim card from Claro. Not a whole lot of options for tourists from them with an "unlimited" data package capped at 50 MB per day but they have good coverage around this area and in Patagonia if you are planning to go there too.
How to Get to Iguazu Falls
First, you will have to get yourself to Buenos Aires. There are several airlines that fly in Buenos Aires such as American, United, and LATAM if you are coming from the US and Turkish, Air France or Lufthansa airlines if you are coming from Europe or Asia.
You can also take an overnight bus to Puerto Iguazu from Buenos Aires if you want to save cost. There are several bus companies to choose from such as Expreso Singer, Crucero del Norte, and Tiger Iguazu. Buses leave in the afternoon (1 PM - 3 PM) and often arrive in the morning. It's an 18 hours bus-ride and should cost you around 70 USD per trip.
If you are taking the bus, you can browse through and buy the tickets online from BusBud.com.
Transportation Around Iguazu Falls
Puerto Iguazu is 20 km away from the Visitor Center to Cataratas del Iguazu (Argentinian side). There are several buses leaving from Puerto Iguazu Bus Station every 15 - 30 minutes from 7 AM to 7 PM. Be sure to go there early as it is often full.
You can buy the ticket right at the terminal 30 minutes before your planned departure time and it should cost around 130 ARS one way.
To get to Cataratas do Iguaçu (Brazilian Side) from Puerto Iguazu, you can take the Cruzero del Norte or Rio Uruguay buses from the same terminal and it will take around an hour (depending on the queue at the immigration) to reach the entrance.
It runs every hour and the tickets can be bought right from the terminal just before you leave. The bus should cost around 130 ARS one way.
Iguazu Falls Entrance Tickets
For the Argentinian side, the entrance ticket to Iguazu Falls is 700 ARS (18 USD) per person as of 2019 and you can buy it from the Visitor Center by either cash (Argentinian Pesos only) or via credit cards.
For the Brazilian side, the entrance ticket to Iguazu Falls is 68 BZR (18 USD) per person as of 2019 and you can either buy it online from Iguazu Official Website or from the Entrance by either cash or via credit cards.
Tips: Best to avoid paying in local currency for the park tickets to avoid terrible rates at the border. Go with credit cards especially if you are only planning to visit the Brazilian side for a day.
Things to Prepare for Iguazu Falls
- Prepare Water and Lunch: If you want to avoid paying for expensive lunch in the park, prepare your own lunch the day before. Also, be sure to carry enough water for the rest of the day as Iguazu is very humid and you will be walking a lot, some parts are not covered in shades so stay hydrated!
- Rain Cover for your Bag: If you are carrying a daypack, be sure you have a rain cover with you as you will get soaked every now and then by the spray from the waterfall, especially the one on the Brazilian side.
- Rain Jacket or Poncho: You will get wet. There's no avoiding it so if you want to keep your clothes dry, be sure to grab a rain jacket with you for the trip.
- Waterproof Pack: For valuable things like your phone, wallet and your passport (you will need it to cross the border) just in case the sprays get into your bag.
- Be careful with your Camera: Most modern cameras are weather-proof to some extent but the fine spray from the waterfall can mess up the electronics so be very careful when you want to take photos. Watch out for the wind as well as it might bring water from elsewhere to you
3 Days Iguazu Falls Itinerary
Day 1: Visit Cataratas del Iguazu (Argentinian Side)
If you are wondering which side of Iguazu Falls is better, Brazilian or Argentinian, I can tell you right now, Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls is the best one and if you have only a day to explore, go with Argentina.
So on our first day at Iguazu Falls, start your day as early as you can (7 AM) and head over to the Puerto Iguazu bus terminal and buy a ticket to Iguazu Falls from the many kiosks nearby. Make sure you are buying the one to "Cataratas del Iguazu" and not the one going to the Brazilian side (Foz do Iguaçu etc.).
Depending on how crowded it is that morning, you might need to wait 30 minutes or more to get on the bus. Once you are on the bus, it will take around 20 minutes to get to the Visitor's Center where you can buy the ticket and grab a free map for the park.
There are several trails you can walk and since we have a full day here, I would recommend you to do them all.
Lower Circuit of Iguazu Falls
Right out of the gate, we go east following the Lower Circuit route (Circuito Inferior). As you walk down the stairs, you will get a glimpse of the Garganta del Diablo or Devil's Throat, a giant U-shaped cascade, as powerful as its name, that you will be going at the end.
This route is around 1.7km long and it loops through along the side of a cliff with a sweeping view of all the waterfalls in the area.
Half way through the trail, you will find a long queue of people waiting to get on one of the boats that go along the river to the cascade. If you want to see the waterfall up close from the bottom, you can either buy a ticket and take this boat or you can do as I did and do the same on-foot on the Brazilian side the next day.
The trail should loop back north towards a lighthouse. Along the way, you will find a few other waterfalls in the midst of the rich green tropical forest, no less impressive than the main cascade.
Once you are at an intersection, instead of going back the same way, you can head west towards the lighthouse and start the next trail, the Upper Circuit.
Upper Circuit of Iguazu Falls
The Upper Circuit (Circuito Superior) is another 1.7 km beautiful walking trail that takes you ON the Rio Iguazu river, overlooking the cascade from above.
At the lighthouse, you continue west until you are at a T intersection, then go left on the walkway that goes above the river. Along the way, you might see some coatis out and about. Do not feed or pet them as they will bite, and their sharp teeth are no joke.
You might spot a few crocodiles here and there as well along the elevated walkway as they cool themselves with the pockets of calm water of the Rio Iguazu river.
Once you have reached the viewpoint, you can head back the same way to the T intersection you have passed previously. Instead of going back the same way, go west and you will arrive at the Estacion Catalatas train station.
Devil's Throat Circuit
Here you have 2 options, you can either take the train to the Devil's Throat viewpoint or do as I did and walk the whole length. If you want to take the train, you will have to get a ticket and wait in line (the queue was very long when I was there).
If you want to walk, simply continue along the trail and follow the railway until you arrive at the Estacion Garganta train station. It should take you around 30 - 45 minutes to walk the whole length.
From the train station, continue on the over-water walkway to see the Devil's Throat in person. The amount of water that moves here is astounding. No wonder why they call it the Devil's Throat.
One tip I have for you here if you want to get a photo of the Devil's Throat without the people, there is a gated section where a commercial photographer set up right on the walkway facing the Devil's Throat where they will take a photo of you and you will have to pay them to get the photo.
Tell them that you want a photo and once they have taken your photo with their cameras, ask them to take one with yours, and don't show up to get their photos. Now, you have a memorable photo of yourself and the falls without people. Boom!
With all the walks you can do, it will probably take an entire day to see them all and so once you are done with the Argentinian side, it's time to explore what the Brazilian side has to offer.
Day 2: Visit Cataratas do Iguaçu (Brazilian Side)
Even though, I said that the Argentinian side is better than the Brazilian side, there are still places the Brazilian side can offer that the Argentinian side can not, and up close experience with the waterfall.
The next day, you can take a bus from the same bus terminal, cross the border to Brazil and you should arrive at the park entrance in less than an hour. You can buy an entrance ticket with a credit card via a ticketing machine so you don't have to wait in line. Once you have entered the park, get on a free bus into the park.
There are several stops you drop by but the one that is right by the waterfall is the Trilha das Cataratas or the end of the line. I would recommend you get off at Trilha das Cataratas and walk to the end.
Walk from Trilha das Cataratas to the Base of Devil's Throat
From the Trilha das Cataratas, you will get a glimpse of the cascade from the other side of the river. The view from here definitely have a more epic feel than on the Argentinian side.
On the Brazilian side, they have built an elevated walkway right on to the river that goes almost to the edge of the cascade. Prepare to get soaked as you will be walking near the Santa Maria waterfall and the amount of water the waterfall creates when it splashes down give a feeling as if it was raining.
Go up the Espaco Naipi (Naipi Space)
After you are done, you can walk up to the Espaco Naipi viewpoint to get the whole perspective of Iguazu Falls and the architectural wonder that is the walk path they built.
From Espaco Naipi, you will also be able to experience the powerful Santa Maria Waterfall up close from a different perspective with 3 levels of viewing decks. From here, you can capture a nice panoramic view of the Brazilian side of the Iguazu Falls.
Once that is done, you can either spend some time exploring other different bus stops (every bus stop has an attraction for you to kill time in the park) or you can get the bus back to the entrance and wait for the bus going back to Puerto Iguazu in Argentina.
Day 3: Relax or Go on a Helicopter Tour in Puerto Iguazu
Photos by Qwesy Qwesy
On your last day at Puerto Iguazu, you can either relax in one of the many hotels equipped with a pool as the humidity is probably getting to you by this point, or go on an epic helicopter tour to experience the Iguazu Falls from above.
For a 10 minutes ride, it's around 275 USD per person, expensive but there is no better way to really grasp the scale of Iguazu Falls than looking at it from an aerial vantage point.
Looking for a Helicopter tour from Puerto Iguazu? Helicopter Ride Over the Iguazu Falls Tour.
And that is it for my recommended 3-days itinerary for Iguazu Falls. If you have any questions about the itinerary, do not hesitate to ask me in the comments below.
Further Reading for Argentina
I hope you found this Argentina travel guide useful. If you are looking for more information about traveling in Argentina, be sure to check out these articles below:
- Looking for a complete travel guide for Chile and Argentina? Here’s a 2 months itinerary for Chile and Argentina.
- If you want to visit Patagonia, Here’s a 2 weeks Patagonia itinerary for hikers and backpackers.
- You can also watch my Argentina travel video here: "A R G E N T I N A" travel video.
- To see all articles about Argentina, visit Argentina Travel Guide page.
- Looking for a place to go after Argentina? How about Chile or Bolivia?
- Looking for more travel guides for the South America? You can find more on my South America Travel Guide page.
- For more of my travel guides, visit my Destinations page.
The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by BucketListly where we will follow our founder, Pete Rojwongsuriya around the world as he singlehandedly travel alone and experience different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.
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