One of the great natural wonders of the world, the Iguaçu Falls (Portuguese: Cataratas do Iguaçu, Spanish: Cataratas del Iguazú, Tupi: Y Ûasu "big water") are situated near the border of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. The area is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Argentina has a corresponding park on their side of the border called Iguazú National Park.
Flora and fauna
Located a little south of the Tropic of Capricorn, the climate is classified as humid subtropical. The daytime mean temperature varies between about +25°C in the summer and +15°C in the winter. For a place with dry and wet seasons, the difference between them is on the smaller side. On the average there are nine monthly rain days from October to February and six in May and July.
|Daily highs (°C)||33.0||32.6||31.1||28.2||25.2||23.1||23.7||25.3||26.9||28.8||31.0||32.5|
|Nightly lows (°C)||19.6||20.0||18.4||15.4||12.2||10.4||9.7||11.3||13.5||15.3||16.5||18.6|
Access to the Falls is usually done through one of the three cities in the so-called tri-border between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay. The city on the Brazilian side is Foz do Iguaçu. Alternatives are the Argentinian city of Puerto Iguazu and the Paraguayan city of Ciudad del Este.
Foz do Iguaçu International Airport (Brazil) is served by TAM Airlines, Gol Transportes Aéreos, Trip Airlines, Sol Linhas Aéreas and LAN with direct scheduled flights to and from Lima, Peru, São Paulo Guarulhos/Congonhas, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba, Recife, Salvador, Cascavel, Porto Alegre, Londrina, and others. The airport is located just off the main road between the city of Foz do Iguaçu and the entrance to the Iguaçu National Park. Taxis are readily available - go to the taxi desk at the entrance to the terminal building and tell them your destination (they speak English) and they will arrange for a car and give you a price. You can either pay by card at the desk or pay the driver in cash. Expect the fare to Foz do Iguaçu to be around BRL25-30. The fare to the park entrance in Brazil is closer and will be less. The airport is on the bus route between Foz do Iguaçu and the National Park entrance. The bus service line number 120 runs every half hour and is cheap (BRL3.50), efficient and easy to use. The stop is right outside the terminal building - board the front of the bus and pay the person sat at the turnstile (change is given) before passing through. The bus passes many of the main hotels on the way into the city (stops are frequent) and ends up at the bus terminal on the far side of the city where there's a friendly tourist information office. In the other direction the bus will drop you off just outside the main visitor's centre at the entrance to the park.
If you arrive to Foz do Iguaçu airport and are staying at the Sheraton Iguazu (on the Argentinian side), or just staying in Puerto Iguazu city on the Argentinian side, it is recommended to rent a car at the airport instead (make reservations in advance), so that you can travel from the hotel to the nearby town (which you will want to do if you want to eat there and do some sightseeing) and also to give you the flexibility to go to the Brazilian side of the falls and visit Itaipu dam. Otherwise, a one-way taxi from Foz do Iguaçu airport to the Sheraton is BRL100 (does not include ARS60/person entry fee for the park), and about ARS150 to go back to the airport from the hotel. A taxi from Foz do Iguazu International Airport (Brazil) to Puerto Iguazu (Argentina), will set you back USD40. You will have to arrange to go to the Brazilian side of the park for about ARS150 or so by taxi (be sure to negotiate down). To go to and from Puerto Iguazu, there is a bus that costs ARS5 and runs every half hour but the last one leaves at 8pm so if you are dining later than that, you will need to hire a taxi for about ARS70. You can also rent a car from the hotel (they will bring the car to you) but book in advance (and check the rates) as there can be a shortage of cars and is usually more expensive (ARS300-450 per day).
Buses from all major cities in the country arrive in each of the three towns (see there for details).
From Foz do Iguaçu buses run every half hour from the bus terminal to the visitor's centre at the national park entrance, passing many of the main hotels in the city along the way. The BRL3.50 flat fare makes the bus a very cheap way to visit the falls and it's also easy to use. If you're starting your journey at the bus terminal you pay your fare on entering the terminal and board the bus through the rear door (the bus is No. 120 to 'Parque Nacional' - the tourist information office at the terminal will point you in the right direction if you have any trouble finding it). When boarding the bus anywhere else you use the front door and pay at the turnstile on board. The journey takes about 40 minutes. Schedules can be found at the Foz do Iguaçu city web site
From Foz do Iguaçu to Puerto Iguazu: there is a bus that leaves from just outside the bus terminal, at the corner of Rua Mem de Sá and Rua Tarobá. It costs BRL4 or ARS8. The bus may or may not stop at the Brazilian border checkpoint but typically will stop at the Argentine border checkpoint, where your passport will be stamped. You can also exchange foreign currency at the Argentine border checkpoint, but be aware that the bus may leave without you if you take too long, leaving you to take a taxi (approx. ARS80) or wait for the next bus. This bus terminates at the Puerto Iguazu bus station where you can catch the bus to the National Park.
It is not uncommon for policemen to check passports in the Argentinian side of the falls, even during domestic journeys. It is advised to carry some documentation of citizenship. If you are coming from the Brazilian side, tell the bus driver you need to stop at the Brazilian border crossing to get your passport stamped. If you try to re-enter Brazil without having been stamped you may need to pay a substantial fine.
The main car rental companies have offices at the Brazilian Foz do Iguaçu airport. Make sure that you mention at the time of your reservation that you intend to cross into the Argentine side to visit the park. You need a special authorization from the rental car company for that. Insurance bought on the Brazilian rental car is not valid in Argentina. You need to buy a special "carta verde" while still on the Brazilian side. It is sold at lottery stands. A three-day pass costs BRL45. If caught without a "carta verde" on the Argentine side you are liable to be charged very heavy fines.
Renting a car gives you a lot of flexibility in exploring both Brazilian and Argentinian side of the falls.
On the Brazilian side the cost is BRL65 (as of Apr. 2017) pp, cheaper for Brazilian, Argentinian, Paraguayan, Uruguayan and Venezuelan residents) you get an excellent overview of Devil's Throat (from afar) and the rest of the falls. Tickets can be bought through the official park website.
- 1 Iguaçu Falls. the UNESCO World Heritage site
- 2 Parque des Aves. A bird park (not limited to small birds; ostriches are a highlight), across the street from the Brazilian Iguaçu National Park.
- Macuco Safari. offers boat trips up to the base of the Iguaçu Falls in 20 person zodiac boats. Your tour starts at the roadside entrance gate where you board the truck that will take you through the jungle towards the drop-off point. A narrator will describe the fauna that along the way. At the end of the ride, you have an easy hike down to the dock where you should put on your raincoat, a life preserver and place your valuables/dry things into plastic bags. The ride up the river to the falls is quite fun as the boats are powered by the two large motors that are needed to navigate the rapids. During the ride, the journey is video captured for your later purchase. The captains know the rapids well which means that every chance they have to dip the boat and soak the passengers is done. The first pause is at the beginning of the falls near the launch point for the Argentinian boat tours. There is time for photos and then to re-wrap your camera and up the river towards the Devils Throat. You cannot get that close the large falls as it gets exceedingly rocky in the river which prevents them from going all the way to the base of the falls. However, the captain will get you very close to going under the falls whenever he can. One note: You will get wet-- a raincoat is not enough. If at all possible, bring dry clothes and put them into the lockers provided at the starting point.
If you go all the way to the "Las Cateratas" station, you will be offered e.g. wildwater rafting & abseiling activities at better rates. When you arrive shortly before the activities close for the day or they're just not busy you can easily bargain about the price and get a really good rate!