Iguazú Falls may be out of the way, but it’s definitely worth the trip. Due to the fact that people from the US need a visa to visit Brazil, the Argentinian side was the obvious choice and didn’t disappoint. So here are some tips and advice if you are planning a trip to see Iguazu Falls.
You pretty much have to fly there, as it’s in the middle of nowhere. There are 2 towns close to the falls, one in Argentina (Puerto Iguazu) and one in Brazil (Foz do Iguaçu) and both have airports. Flying to the Argentinian side, depending where you’re coming from, you’ll likely have a layover in Buenos Aires first. The airport in Puerto Iguazu is tiny. When you arrive there are options to take taxis ($700 ARS or a bus $200 ARS). The bus only seemed to run about once per hour, so we opted for a taxi. The airport is about 30 minutes from town. Flying from Santiago, and planning a stop in Buenos Aires for a few days before returning, the total for the flight was about $360 USD with LATAM. This seemed pretty good as I had seen prices up to $700 USD while we were in the process of planning the trip.
Tip: Download the LATAM Play app on your phone before your flight, as you can watch movies and TV shows through the app during your flight. There are no screens on the back of the seats like on larger international flights.
Iguazú National Park
The waterfalls are located within Iguazú National Park, which is about 20 minutes away from Puerto Iguazú, where you will be staying. There are buses from town to the park, but if you opt for a tour they will pick you up at your hotel. We chose to do a tour as I saw other people recommend doing so. Can you do it without a tour? Yes. Is a tour worth it? I thought so. It took the hassle and stress out of everything and saved time researching and planning. After traveling for a while I get a little exhausted of having to plan every detail, especially when there’s no internet so everything must be planned ahead of time. The tour picked us up from our hotel, gave us information about the park and history, got our train tickets once inside the park, directed us to each trail, and took us to a spot within the park where we could buy lunch. The guide’s English was good and he was very knowledgeable about the park and was happy to answer questions. Everything was included in the price of the tour except the park entrance fee ($700 ARS) and lunch. We did the full day tour through Tangol. For the English tour we paid $42 USD per person. The pick up was at 7:30 AM and we returned at about 16:00. We did 2 trails, lunch, then the last trail. After lunch we were completely exhausted, and some of the group skipped it but I powered through. Each trail was on average about 1.5 km, so it was a decent amount of walking. The first 2 trails were very flat with virtually no steps. The 3rd did have some steps and an incline at the end, but it wasn’t too bad.
There are coatis, a South American version of a raccoon, all over the park. They are pretty cool to see but are shameless thieves. They will try to steal your lunch and can steal snacks out of your bags. There weren’t many in the area where we ate lunch, and I must say I was kind of looking forward to fighting a coati for my lunch, but it didn’t happen. Don’t feed or try to pet them though, as this just encourages annoying behavior and they can bite and scratch you.
How much time to spend?
I would recommend 2 nights/3 days. So, Day 1: arrive, relax and explore the town of Puerto Iguazu. Day 2: go to the park early in the morning and spend the day at the park. Day 3: Fly home/to somewhere else.
Worth the trip?
I had seen pictures before going, but I didn’t realize exactly how breathtaking and beautiful it would be. I was concerned that the Argentinean side wasn’t a good as the Brazilian side, but we didn’t really have a choice because Brazil doesn’t seem to care for American tourists. Despite that, I can’t imagine the Brazilian side being better (it may be just as good) because the views from the Argentinian side were just so amazing I’m not sure how it could be beat. I’m sure you can’t go wrong with either, so choose which is most convenient for you, or if you have time, do both. Enjoy!!