WANDERLUST: IGUAZU FALLS

17:30:00

The Iguazu Falls were my first natural wonder of the world. And to say they left me completely stunned is a serious understatement.
The two national parks with almost 300 waterfalls cover over 2000 square kilometers across the border region of Argentina and Brazil and should be on everyone´s bucket list. There are different possibilities to visit the falls, a variety of prices and ways to cross the border so I thought I would share my experience and tips and some of the incredible pictures we took.


The Brazilian side

If you ask me I would visit the Brazilian side first and the Argentinian side afterwards. Not only did this make more sense for  my travel route, but it also means you get the panoramic view first and then get to see close ups on the Argentinian side.
Once again we were busing our way from Florianopolis to  Foz do Iguaçu, but you can also fly. Just make sure you book your flights to the right country and don´t end up outside the Argentinian airport when you want to go to the Brazilian one. That goes especially for flies out of Iguazu/Iguaçu as with all the border controls you will most likely miss your flight if you are in the wrong country to begin with.
 Foz actually has a really, really good public transportation system meaning that there are buses getting you to and from the bus station, the airport and the national park. You just need to make sure the buses are the actual local buses and not the ones crossing the borders to Argentina and Paraguay. The international buses are orange or white, the local ones are green. Both from the airport and the international bus station for long haul buses (Rodoviária) you should take a green bus to the central bus station in town.
We stayed at the Green House Hostel in Foz do Iguaçu, which was right next to a bus station from which buses left to the national park. Next to the great location it had a nice pool, a public kitchen and double rooms as well as free breakfast.
We only came to Foz do Iguaçu and Puerto Iguazu (the Argentinian side) for two days each and one was always a travel day, where we mainly relaxed. We went to the Brazilian national park our second day. There is really no need to book a tour since it is so incredibly easy to get to the national park with public transport and it is so easy to get around in the park as well. We made a first stop at the Bird park, which is right across from the entry to the national park. The bus stop is conveniently named Parque das Aves (Bird Park) so it´s hard to miss. The entry is 40 Reais, which is around 12 Euros and it is honestly really beautiful. The most enchanting thing were the parrots, the tucans and the gorgeous butterfly house, but if you are into some more action there are also alligators and an anaconda.
The national park is just across the street from the Bird Park and consists of about three different paths leading along the waterfalls. One of them gets incredibly close to the waterfalls so bring a rain poncho or be prepared to get an overpriced one at the park. Other than that stay away from the adorable, but extremely grabby coatis and just enjoy the incredible panorama you get. 


Border crossing

You can simply take a bus from Foz do Iguaçu to Puerto Iguazu and the other way around. The international buses leave from exactly the same bus stops as the local ones. There are white and orange ones and they should say whether they go to Argentina or Paraguay, but I would always ask the driver again just to be sure. When you get to the Brazilian border you have to tell the driver to stop as you need to get a stamp from the Brazilian authorities to show you have left the country. The bus will not wait for you so you need to go the border control, get your stamp and signature and then wait for the next bus. So hold on tight to your ticket and make sure you take a bus from the same company (once again the orange/white distinction is crucial) and you can continue your journey for free. At the Argentinian border the bus will stop again, but this time the driver will wait for you. You need to get another stamp and another paper for coming into Argentina (hold on to that one until you leave the country), have your luggage checked and then make a light jog for you bus. It is a fun morning routine, let me tell you that, but people usually are really nice and everyone is as confused as you are so you will probably make it.


The Argentinian side

Puerto Iguazu is a lot smaller than Foz, which also means you don´t need to understand the entire scheme with the buses, you can basically just walk from and to your hostel. Argentinian hostels sadly only  rarely offers free breakfast or accept credit cads and you will be charged for getting cash at the ATM from which you can only take a limited amount of money. So life´s a little more complicated this side of the border.
There is a bus station in Puerto Iguazu from which you can get to a lot of other cities in Argentina and also an airport. We decided to fly out from there as buses take over 24 hours and the flight was just 30 Euros more and let me tell you if backpacking in South America taught me one thing it is that not having to sit in a bus for more than 10 hours is worth a million bucks so 30 seemed like an incredibly good deal. You can only get to and from the airport via Taxi, but they have a set price, which is not too shabby and you don´t get ripped off.
We also decided to head over to Paraguay for about an hour (to get them stamps ya know) with a little ferry. It was a nice boat ride and we climbed up to a view point and for about 2 Euros it was a nice little trip before we went to the park the next day.
Puerto Iguazu does not have the whole complicated two bus station scheme, there is just one for international and local buses and not as many differently coloured buses to get to the national park. Everyone kept raving about how you have to go at least twice to soak everything in, but if you ask me  one day is absolutely fine if you go early enough. However if you decide to opt for a second day you only pay half the admission price so if you feel like you missed out there is always that option. We also were unable to do the boat trip due to high water (and we also felt it was a bit too pricey), so you may need two days if you do that.
The Argentinian side is mainly a system of walkways and stairs on top of the falls, giving you wonderful views and incredibly walks in lush forests.  I can´t stress enough how much you have to watch out for the coatis and how careful you have to be with your food there are seriously vicious fuckers, no matter how cute they look. Other than that just enjoy your time on both sides of the border, soak in as much of the beauty around you and have an amazing time.

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