Iguaçu is more than a natural park (it’s two parks actually!). It is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. And since everyone knows how big is the world, imagine how amazing is this place to be selected.
We spent two full days visiting both parks (Brazilian side + Argentinian side) plus the Birds Park. We did everything by ourselves and believe us: you don’t need any kind of touristic guide or tour! But visiting both sides is mandatory - they are different and show you distinctive views and unique experiences.
We drove from Curitiba to Foz do Iguaçu (around 635 km) and we slept in this Brazilian town for three nights. It is not an amazing city. It is the base for people to explore the natural parks, the Iguaçu dam (the biggest in the world!) and Ciudad del Este in Paraguay (normally for shopping). Apart from that there’s nothing else to see.
Iguaçu Falls (Brazil)
We visited the Brazilian side (“Cataratas do Iguaçu”) first. Although 80% of the falls are on the Argentinian side, the Brazilian park gave us an extraordinary panoramic view of the falls.
The park is open between 9 am and 6 pm (summer schedule) and since we were sleeping at Foz do Iguaçu we drove around 20km from the town to the park. We left the car at the Iguaçu Visitor Centre around 9:30 am and we bought the tickets at the ticket office almost immediately (no queue!). Then there were buses to take us from the Visitor Centre to the park trails.
In reality there’s only one stop that matters: Cataratas Trail (the other stops are boat trips or hikes not covered by the general ticket). From the bus stop to the Floriano Falls it’s about 2km walking in a paved road. The view was stupendous and from there we could really “feel” the falls, its size and strength. It was summer and the quantity of water was 14x greater than the usual! The trail until the falls is also very good, with several viewpoints and perfect spots to take pictures or just stop to admire the fantastic views.
There is an elevator to the top of the Floriano Falls but we walked to better enjoy the park nature. On the way we saw several coatis and butterflies. There is also another stop that you can walk from the Cataratas Trail: Porto Canoas complex. We had lunch there and there are coffees, restaurants and several terraces to stay for a while and rest with a nice view of the falls. We also saw an iguana there!
Since we finished the visit in the end of the morning we had plenty of time to visit the Birds Park (“Parque das Aves”), a place with several types of birds, butterflies and reptiles. Although we don’t appreciate this kind of place where animals live in cages, this park rescues several birds from traffic and abusing. We spent easily two hours around the park exploring, photographing and relaxing in its coffees terraces.
Iguazu Falls (Argentina)
Next day we had to wake up around 6:30am to be able to spend one full day at “Parque Nacional Iguazú”, the Argentinian side. Since our car was not prepared to cross the border Brazil-Argentina (we will get the final documents in Florianópolis, our next stop) we had to do everything using public transports. And it was easier than we were expecting (everyone told us to go on a tour because it was too complicated to do it by ourselves…).
We caught our first bus at “Terminal de Transporte Urbano” in Foz do Iguaçu (Brazil) to Puerto Iguazu (Argentina). Buses run every 30 minutes and it’s not a long journey but the process of crossing the border between the two countries makes the process tiring. So we stopped twice between Foz do Iguaçu and Puerto Iguazu: one to get our exit stamp on the way out of Brazil and another one to get the entry stamp into Argentina. After we were expecting to catch another bus at Puerto Iguazu but “unofficial taxis” offered us and another couple the same price per person than the bus so we actually used the taxi instead of the official bus. The taxi trip took us around 15 minutes and we entered the park around 8:30am (from October to February Brazil is one hour ahead of Argentina and the Argentinian park is open from 8 am to 5 pm).
At the Argentinian side there are 3 main trails:
- Devil’s Throat (“Garganta del Diablo”) – This was our first trail at the Argentinian park so we took the train (it is included in the entrance fee) from the "Cataratas" station to the "Estación Garganta del Diablo" station. Then we had to walk for around 20 minutes (2.2 km) to get right into the Devil’s Throat. It was very humid and hot but it was simply amazing.
- Upper Trail (“Circuito Superior”) – This was our second trail and as the name says, it is a walk through the top of the falls with panoramic views. It was the easiest and shortest trail.
- Lower Trail (“Circuito Inferior”) – The lower trail was our favourite! It took us approximately two hours to do this trail but it was absolutely fantastic. The difference from this trail to the others is that here we could “feel” the falls. We could almost walk directly under the falls and the sensation was unique and difficult to explain (see video here).
We spent almost all day at the Argentinian park and we left around 4 pm. We caught the bus to Puerto Iguazu at the entrance of the park and then we had to wait for another bus to take us to the Argentinian border (exit stamp) and to the Brazilian border (entry stamp).
It was a pretty exhausting day but full of adventure and fun!
Main costs of this trip for 2 people (local currencies):
- Park entrances: 114.6 R$ (Iguaçu) + 520 P$ (Iguazu) + 60 R$ (Birds Park)
- Visitor centre car parking (Iguaçu): 21 R$
- Bus Foz Iguaçu – Puerto Iguazu (2x): 8 R$ x 2
- Bus Puerto Iguazu – Cataratas Iguazu (2x): 50 P$ x 2
- Lunch: 59.7 R$ (Iguaçu park) + 270 P$ (Iguazu park)
Next stop: Florianópolis, Brazil!