Like for many other people, Iguaçu Falls were on top of our bucket list of things to do in South America! And after having seen them, we completely understand why there are considered one of the 7 Wonders of Nature and they are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Note that the Falls are the border between Brazil and Argentina. From Brazil you can visit the falls from the city of Foz de Iguaçu. From Argentina you can visit the “Cataratas” from Puerto Iguazu/Misiones. Here is our experience on the Brazilian side.
Read also our feedback on the Argentinian side (read article)
Visiting the Brazilian side: practical guide
How to get there?
Of course you can take a taxi, but taking the public bus is an easy, cheap option so we would totally recommend it! You can take the bus from the terminal bus station or ask your hotel for the closest bus stop.
You need to take the bus 120 direction Parque Nacional. It’s also the bus passing by the airport!
We took a picture of the departure schedule from the terminal bus station. It takes about 40 min to get to the National Park.
When should I go there?
Hard to say but from our experience: avoid weekends and bank holidays! As tourists we tend to forget which day of the week we are one, but visiting during the week can make a huge difference! When we got there it was super crowded!
If you have to visit during the weekend we highly recommend you visit at the beginning of the afternoon since there were much less people queuing. If you don’t like big crowds then it could be a good option to go there in the afternoon.
Plan 2-3 hours to visit the park on the Brazilian side.
Be careful with your belongings
Of course this is a general recommendation for any place when traveling, especially in crowded and touristic places!
But we add this recommendation because of an unexpected curious thief: the coati! This cute animal, from the same family as the raccoon, is far from being shy of humans: you will see them everywhere looking for food! And even though human food is mostly harmful for them, they will still come and check what could you have for them: as soon as you put your bag somewhere they will come check it! And don’t try to fight them over your belonging: they are cute but can become aggressive!
Visiting Iguaçu Falls: our recommendations...
When you get to the park you will need to take a “panoramic bus” that will bring you to the waterfalls (this is mandatory and included in your ticket). No need to fight for a seat, the road is pleasant but nothing special to see. The bus will always make 4 stops on the way.
Stop 1 and 2: you need to pay!
The 2 first stops are for activities that are not included in your ticket so you need to pay for each activity, if you are willing to do them.
The first stop is offering kayaking and rafting on the river. This opens up the possibility to discover the nature by the river. You don’t get to the waterfalls (I don’t think anyone wants to do rafting there!).
The second stop is offering the possibility to take a boat that will bring you close to the waterfalls for a “thrilling and wet experience”. You can also do this on the Argentinian side. We didn’t do it on either side so we cannot recommend any.
Stop 3: Trilha das Cataratas!
This is where you want to get off! From there begins a cute trail that will bring you through different viewpoints, getting closer and closer to the waterfalls!
As soon as you get on the trail you will have you first viewpoint over the first waterfalls of Iguaçu. Because there are many, many waterfalls here: 275 individual waterfalls stretched over 2km!!
Continue the trail until you see a bunch of people agglutinated to take a picture: that’s your next viewpoint! We were truly annoyed by the number of tourists around because we know that mass tourism usually increases your chance to assist to insane behaviors… no further comment on this…
Anyway, you get to see some more waterfalls, from closer!
Further away you will get it: some more waterfalls! But where it is getting interesting is that we get to have a better feeling of the speed of the current as we get to see the water above the waterfalls too! And it is impressive!
You can also notice a species of plants (Podostemaceae apparently) that grows only next to waterfalls! They grow on the rocks and give the impression of a forest in the middle of this running water! Isn’t that crazy?
The walkway will lead closer to the most famous post of the falls: the Garganta del Diablo (the Devil’s Throat). There is no word to describe it, really…
Prepare to get wet!
Coming back you have a chance to get close to one of the waterfalls. Another time to get wet but also a good opportunity to realize once again the amount and power of the water!
Stop 4: your trip back home
Once you are done getting wet, you can follow the “exit” sign. It will lead you to an elevator but if you prefer to go by foot get to the left of people in line where a staircase will lead to the footpath up. On top you will find all the commodities you need: toilets, food and benches. Beware of the coatis!
In general keep an open eye for other type of wildlife too!
Once you are ready to go home, this is where you take the bus to get back to the entrance gate. Where you can take the bus to get back to the city. Where you can take the bus to cross the border to the Argentinian side! Easy! 😉
Crossing the border from Brazil to Argentina
You need to take a bus (or a taxi if you can afford it) to cross the border. The bus stop for international bus is not inside the Terminal Bus Station but in an adjacent street! MapsMe will help you locate it, or you can ask! There are other stops on the way so you may want to ask your hotel in you are not staying in town.
There are a few companies crossing the border and it seems that they all charge about the same price (6R$ per pax). So basically you can take the first one that comes. Until there it’s easy. The funny part is when you get down at the Brazilian border: since only a few tourists need the stamp, the bus doesn’t wait for you! What does it mean? Well it will probably take you less than 15 minutes to get the exit stamp (it took us 2 min) so you will have to wait for the next bus to go on! And the trick is: unless you pay for another ticket you are stuck to wait for the bus from the same company! Waiting time seems to be around 40 min… we had a good chat with a couple of Swiss travelers while waiting…
Once you get back on the bus you will need to get off again at the Argentinian border. Here everybody needs to get off so the bus is waiting. But again most of the people will go through immigration very fast compared to you poor tourist and the bus is not waiting super long. Our advice: try to get in the line first!