Puerto Iguazù (18-20)
1338 km from Buenos Aires
Travel agency: Caracol International
After the summer in Buenos Aires, the winter in Tierra del Fuego and the spring in Bariloche, we landed into the tropical summer in Puerto Iguazù. You’ll be impressed by the humidity you’ll find just on arriving at the airport: the typical subtropical climate (very warm in winter, very hot in summer).
20 km from the airport, located in the Misiones province, Puerto Iguazù is a very peculiar city because of it’s position by the border with Brazil and Paraguay. The explorer who found the place in the 16th Century was drawn by the noise of the water. And you can actually still hear it from several km.
Puerto Iguazù (besides Buenos Aires) was the only destination outside Patagonia in our trip. And I wasn’t disappointed to go there as my feeling on arriving in town was to finally be in a South American place.
Patagonia can feel European, not like an ex European colony, but more like the cities and villages grew up with European styles and attitudes.
In Puerto Iguazù you can finally find some kind of spirit of the south! It’s a very small town with a main road, lots of bars, local shops and many tourist places. After all the main resources of the place are the waterfalls and the connected activities. You can also find organized buses to Paraguay, where you can buy electronic equipments for very low prices. This is another way to develop tourism in the area.
You’re there basically to visit the falls (Unesco world heritage and one of the New 7 Wonders of the Nature). But we took the chance (after some refreshing/relaxing hours by the pool) to have a walk around the city and along the avenida de las tres fronteras going to the Hito de las tres fronteras, the place where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay meet, and where the big Paranà and Iguazù rivers cross. It’s not so far away from the city centre, about 15 minutes walking. But the 3pm sun can make it difficult in summer!
When you arrive at the Iguazù National Park, you slowly discover how powerful the nature can be. A little queue is necessary to buy the ticket to enter into the park, then you arrive at the centro de visitantes (visitors centre) and at the estaciòn cataratas where you can take the little train to the Estacion Garganta del Diablo,in which takes approximately 10 minutes. It’s also possible to go walking depending depends on how long you want to stay in the park.
You can’t see any of the waterfalls at this point, but what you’re going to see is well worth the wait. After walking on a footbridge, crossing the big Paranà river, you arrive at the Salto Union and the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s throat). It’s very impressive: there are lots of people over there and you are suspended on 150 mt of very noisy water.
Then you go back to the estaciòn cataratas and start to visit different (smaller) waterfalls all around following the footbridge.
There are lots of activities you can book from agencies in town or directly inside the park, for example to visit the isla martin in the middle of the falls, a safari in the forest, canoeing and dinghy rides both at the top and the bottom of the falls. 5 nights a month you can visit the Garganta del Diablo under the moonlight.
We chose to go to ride the bottom side and it was a really funny experience. You go very close to the waterfalls (which includes some showers) and you can really face the power of so much water falling down all together.
It was a very intense, wet and humid experience!
There were some couples who went very close to the waterfalls on the footbridge with their newborn babies, but to be honest it’s not an excursion i’d recommend to babies.
It’s a full day excursion and you can find bars, shops and services in the park. You’ll be bothered by Coatì, a kind of racoon. They are not really aggressive but they’re bloody hungry and their bites are harmful! So take care when you bring food with you.
The Brazilian side is very different from the Argentinian. You will be close to the falls just once. The rest of the trip is on footbridge where you can admire waterfalls from distance. But this view is impressive too as you can really see almost the whole waterfalls together and appreciate how massive they are. Extra activities here include a helicopter ride over the falls (permitted only on the Brazilian side), trekking, biking, canoeing and nautical safari.
It’s a half day excursion (you can find bars, shops and services), but you usually waste lot of time crossing the border to Brazil (and to Argentina on the way back) for passport checks. Apparently Foz do Iguaçu, the brazilian city of Iguazu, is a bit dangerous to visit and not really interesting. We didn’t have the time to discover if it was true.