The amazing waterfalls at Iguazu, on the border between Brazil and Argentina, are one of the ‘Natural Seven Wonders of the World’. They were at the top of our South America bucket list. We spent 3 nights in Foz do Iguaçú, a city on the Brazilian side of the Falls, crossing to the Argentinian side for a day trip.
You could, theoretically, just visit the Falls on one side but I would thoroughly recommend going to both. In Brazil, you can get up-close to fully experience the sights and sounds of the huge body of water. Whilst the trails in Argentina give you a broader perspective of the sheer scale of the waterfalls.
We arrived by plane and departed by bus. We flew the 750 miles south-west from Rio to Foz do Iguaçú. An added bonus to flying was the spectacular view of the waterfalls as we approached. We continued our South American adventure by crossing to Paraguay’s Cuidad del Este and catching a bus to Asunción.
We stayed in the city centre with plenty of bars, restaurants and shops within walking distance. To reach the various attractions, we took local buses. There are plenty of tours available, but we were happy travelling by bus and doing our own thing. We had planned to take a bus for the day trip to Argentina, but a taxi driver made us an offer we couldn’t refuse.
Where we stayed
We stayed in the centre of town in The Bogari Hotel. It’s not the best hotel and swinging a cat definitely isn’t an option. But it’s very centrally located and we’ve stayed in (much) worse.
|Day 1||Flight to Foz|
Acccommodation: Bogari Hotel x 3
Dinner at City Bier Petiscaria
|Day 2||Parque Nacional do Iguaçú|
Marco das Três Fronteiras
|Day 3||Parque Nacional de Iguazu|
Garganta del Diablo
Hito Tres Fronteras
Dinner at Marias & Maria Bakery
Bus to Asunción
|3||City Bier Petiscaria|
|4||Parque Nacional do Iguaçu|
|5||Marco das Três Fronteiras|
|6||Parque Nacional de Iguazú|
|7||Garganta del Diablo|
|8||Hito Tres Fronteras|
|9||Marias & Maria Bakery|
Flight to Foz
I had thought the two hour flight to Foz was a means of getting from A to B, but it turned out to be quite special. After observing the sunrise of Rio, we flew over the meandering Iguazu River with a bird’s eye view of the waterfalls. The airport is about 10 miles southwest of the city, close to the Falls. Our hotel offered a complimentary pick up, which was convenient.
Once we had checked in, we spent the afternoon visiting Itaipu Dam, or Itaipu Binacional to give it its official name. The world’s third biggest dam spans the Paraná River between Brazil and Paraguay. It provides approximately 15% of the energy consumed in Brazil and 86% of the energy consumed in Paraguay. Fun fact; the dam holds enough water for everyone on the planet to have 4,000 litres each.
The dam is around 6 miles north of the city. We caught the bus to Itaipu. There are regular buses (we took the 101, which cost R$3.45) from the Urban Bus Terminal (TTU) which stop close to the entrance to the dam by the control post.
There are different tour options. We chose the Panoramic Tour, which involves a bus ride around the complex and across the top of the dam, stopping at various points for photo ops, whilst being told lots of facts. The Special Tour consists of the Panoramic Tour plus a visit inside the power plant. There are also bike tours, illuminated tours and tours of the Biological refuge.
The tour bus stops at certain prescribed points around the complex, giving you a short amount of time to see, shop, take photos etc. If you want to stay longer at a particular stop, just catch the next tour bus instead…
Regular tours run daily between 8.30 am and 4 pm, departing at 30 minute intervals. The Panoramic Tour costs R$56 (around £9) while the Special Tour costs R$160.
In the evening, we took a wander around town, walking through the main drag of Avenida Brasil, which is lined with shops and restaurants. There are plenty of options to pick up souvenirs here, this isn’t one of them!
Dinner at City Bier Petiscaria
For dinner, we chose City Bier Petiscaria. We thought the items on the menu were individual portions, so ordered one each. The old man selected filet mignon and basically got an entire cow with condiments and I ordered the chorizo and was served a sausage the size of a small country. When we looked around, most people had ordered one dish between two or even four people. We just about managed to waddle back to the hotel before sinking into a meat coma.
We spent our first full day visiting the Brazilian side of the Falls. The complex consists of 257 individual waterfalls over 1.7 miles. On each side, the waterfalls a situated within a National Park.
Parque Nacional do Iguaçú
The Parque Nacional do Iguaçú is around 10 miles south east of the city, close to the airport. There are regular buses (we took the 120, which cost R$3.55) from the Urban Bus Terminal (TTU) which stop close to the entrance to the Park. It was quite crowded and we had to stand for most of the 40 minute journey. And there was no air conditioning, so by the end of the 40 minute journey we had worked up quite a sweat.
Upon reaching the Park, you must first queue to purchase a ticket. Then, you must queue to catch a shuttle bus (walking is not an option). This was quite an undertaking, and took over an hour.
Once you finally reach the front of the (second) queue, the takes you on the 10 mile drive to the waterfall. It’s basically a road through the rainforest surrounding by butterflies – hundreds and hundreds of butterflies.
We disembarked at the waterfall trail and walked the final mile along the river ending at a walkway which overhangs the waterfall. It’s bit like Niagara on steroids; huge and loud and creating clouds of mist where a rainbow floats. This is a stop option on the shuttle bus. There is a stop closer to the Falls, but we opted to walk along the Trilha das Cataratas trail instead.
A slight dilemma; the walkway extends right into the mist and in order to purchase park, we needed our passports. To ensure our passports didn’t turn to papier-mâché, we negotiated the walkway scrum one at a time, while the other stayed somewhere dry with aforementioned passports. It was a spectacular sight – the highlight of our trip so far!
We exited through the café where lizards and coatis compete for scraps and picked up the shuttle/local bus to return to our hotel for a siesta before our evening outing.
The Park is open daily from 9 am to 4 pm. Tickets for foreigners cost R$86 (around £13.50).
Marco das Três Fronteiras
In the evening, after a thunderstorm so violent it made the hotel shudder, we went to Marco das Três Fronteiras; a theme park at the point where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay meet.
I convinced the old man to skip the hotel’s organised tour at £20 a head in favour of taking the bus which costs £1 each way. It’s a rather circuitous route and took a lot longer than expected; we were on the bus long after all the other passengers disembarked. I did begin to wonder if we’d been kidnapped by a rogue bus driver, but finally we arrived at our destination. With hindsight, this is probably one occasion when the tour bus would have been the best option.
The park is awesomely tacky. We wandered round the various three-border themed installations; flags, murals, obelisks, signs. After dark there’s a sound and light show. In the interim you can enjoy the tacky attractions, purchase souvenirs and have a drink/dinner at a table overlooking the rivers with Paraguay and Argentina in the background.
The park is open daily except Mondays, from 2 pm until 9 pm. Tickets cost R$48 (around £7.50).
Today; Iguazú National Park on the Argentinian side of the falls. For a local, this trip is fairly simple; a bus to the Argentinian town of Puerto Iguazú then a second bus to the Park. For a foreigner, it is more complicated as you have to disembark for immigration twice and the bus doesn’t wait, so it involves taking three consecutive buses on the same route, then a fourth bus to the park.
Buses depart from the International Bus Stop. Once a group of foreigners was assembled, a taxi driver approached and offered to take us as a group direct to the park for the price of the 6×5 buses. And so we set off to Argentina by taxi with two Poles and two Colombians.
Parque Nacional de Iguazú
La Garganta del Diablo
The taxi dropped us at the park entrance, where we had to queue for tickets, then take two separate trains to the waterfall. In total it took almost three hours to reach our ultimate destination; La Garganta del Diablo – the Devil’s Throat, which is the tallest of the falls, measuring 97 metres. Surrounded by signs warning of crocodiles, we set forth on a rickety walkway over the river to the edge of the waterfall. It was incredible, the sound and scale of water rushing down the Devil’s Throat is immense. The walk from Garganta Station to the viewpoint (Paseo Garganta del Diablo) is around 1100 metres each way.
After marvelling at the Devil’s Throat, we took the train to Cataratas Station to walk the Circuito Superior (Upper Trail) which follows the rim of the falls past a series of viewpoints. This trail is around 65 metres in length.
There is also a Circuito Infererior (Lower Trail), which is 1400 km in length, but we didn’t have sufficient time for this. Instead, we returned to the Visitors for a much needed drink and ice cream before meeting our taxi driver to return to Brazil.
The park is open daily between 8 am and 6 pm. Tickets for foreigners cost AR$5500 (around £22).
Hito Tres Fronteras
On the way back through the city on the Argentinian side of the Falls; Puerto Iguazú, we stopped at a small park; Hito Tres Fronteras for one last photo op. Here, you have a view of the three bordering countries, with more flag obelisks but without the tacky theme park on the Brazilian side.
Dinner at Marias & Maria Bakery
The driver dropped us back at our hotel and we went in search of dinner. Buffet restaurants are all the rage in Foz. You choose what you want to eat from the buffet, then they weigh the plate to determine the price. We chose Maris and Maria Bakery, where the selection was wide but the baked goods were particularly tasty. You can just purchase and pay for food by item, but we’d had a long day so hit the buffet wholeheartedly. No photos – I was too busy filling my face!
In the morning we planned to catch a bus from Ciudad del Este in Paraguay to the capital, Asunción. To reach the bus station in Paraguay, the same series of getting on and off multiple buses to pass through immigration is required. We considered it briefly, then called yesterday’s driver and set off to Paraguay by taxi across The Friendship Bridge
The 550 metre long Friendship Bridge spans the Parana river connecting Brazil and Paraguay. On the other side, Ciudad del Este is a popular Duty Free shopping destination, if you’re into shopping, which we’re not. So we just headed straight to the bus station for our onward journey.
- Trip Taken: January 2019
- Updated: March 2023
Leave a Reply