Argentina, Backpacking, South America

How to visit Iguazu Falls • Argentinean side

I had an incredible day visiting Iguazu falls October last year. I couldn’t have asked for more than a day of walking amongst rainbows, refreshing water sprays, butterflies, just green forests everywhere and of course the breathtaking Iguazu Falls. In this article about how to visit Iguazu Falls Argentina side, I will fill you in on prices, locations, facts and why I chose to visit the Argentinean side instead of the Brazilian side of Iguazu.

I’m aiming to make this post an ultimate guide to all you need to know about Iguazu Falls. This way you can make well-informed decisions to prepare and have the best time possible when you go.

What to do in Iguazu Falls National Park Travel Guide

About Iguazu Falls

Iguazu waterfalls is located in the south of South America and lie on the border between Brazil and Argentina. It’s a part of the 1320 km long Iguazu river that comes from the Amazon jungle. The river flows through Brazil and Argentina and converges into the Parana river 23 km downriver from where the Iguazu falls lies.

Iguazu falls are made out of 150-300 smaller waterfalls, depending on the water levels in the river. It’s about 2,700 meters wide and its longest drop is 80 meters.

The Amazon river is the biggest, longest river in South America and the second longest is its continuation, the Parana River as mentioned, together with Iguazu Falls they make up the largest waterfall system in the world.

In 2011 Iguazu was voted one of the 7 new natural wonders of the world, through a national poll with 100 million voters attending. It was also added to UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites in 1984, not just for the waterfalls’ spectacularity, but for its wide variety of vegetation and wildlife aswell.

Two parks – Foz Iguazu and Purto Iguazu

So because the Iguazu Falls stretch across both Argentina and Brazil. You can choose to visit Parque National du Iguaçu in Brazil or Parque Nacional Iguazu in Argentina.

In the Brazilian park, I was told that you get more of a panoramic view of the waterfalls, On the Argentinean side you get the panorama view, but you also get to experience almost being in the waterfalls, and right on top of them.

When it comes to what side to choose I can’t really tell you as I only visited the Argentina side for now. Still, if you only have one day to visit, I’m pretty convinced that the Argentinean side of Iguazu Falls is the best to prioritize. While traveling South America, something I did for about a year, I asked other travelers who’d been there what side I should prioritize visiting. Almost everyone I talked to, who’d visited both parks, recommended me to visit the Argentinean side of Iguazu. So I did, and I loved it.

Ideally, I would’ve liked to visit both. I guess everyone would, but some of us low budget backpackers might not have the funds, and others might not have the time to spend two days visiting the Iguazu falls. For me, it was a combination of the two that led me to follow other travelers advice.

La Triple Frontera – The Triple Frontier

The Iguazu waterfall stretches over Argentinean and Brazilian land, but most of the waterfall is located on the Argentinean side of the border(about 80%). Iguazu falls are also located close to the triple frontier, in Spanish known as La Triple Frontera. This is where three countries meet, you can check it out on the map of the triple frontier underneath. The borders of Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina are all located in very close proximity to each other, and you can cross all three borders in less than an hour by bus.

Because the Iguazu waterfalls are so close to three different countries, it has a few different names. In Spanish Las Cataratas del Iguazu and Portuguese Foz do Iguaçu. The Iguazu falls actually got its name from Gurani, the indigenous language of Paraguay still used alongside Spanish.  “y“, meaning water, and “ûasú “meaning big. So basically big water. Pretty fitting and pretty straight forward.

On each side of the borders, there are border cities. Puerto Iguazu in Argentina, Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil, and the biggest, Ciudad del Este in Paraguay.

Other tourist activities around Iguazu

In addition to visiting Iguazu waterfalls, there are other tourist activities in the area. The most popular one is the tax-free shopping in Cuidad del Este where you can shop much cheaper than in the bordering countries. Rush hour on the border of Ciudad del Este to enter Brazil is a sight in itself. The traffic moves slowly and the cars are many. You can find almost anything in Ciudad del Este, but it’s especially popular for electronics.

Cuidad del Este Paraguay Rush Hour Travel guide

The bridge Tancredo Neves, connecting Paraguay and Brazil is also a tourist attraction in itself. If you are in the area, you can easily cross by foot like we did!
The supposedly biggest freshwater reservoir with potable water in the world The Guarani Aquifer is also located right on the triple frontier, with the majority of it lying of Brazilian soil. The reservoir measures 1.2 million m²! You can visit and take a tour there.

Tancredo Neves Bridge Triple Frontier Argentina Brazil What to do in Iguazu

The Guarani Iguazu Legend of Iguazu Falls

The legend about Iguazu Falls creation is from the Guarani tribes that lived around Iguazu Falls long before the Spanish arrived. Each year the tribes would sacrifice a virgin to the Serpent God, M’Boi that lived in the river. The girls sacrificed were bred to be sacrificed from birth, and this never met any protests.

One year Naipi, a Guarani girl engaged to Taruba, a warrior from the neighbor tribe, walked along the river. M’Boi saw here and though she was very beautiful, the most beautiful women he’d seen. He then demanded the Guarani tribe, to sacrifice her to him. The tribe was too afraid of protesting and it was arranged.

Naipi and Taruba however, were very much in love and decided to escape in a canoe the morning of the sacrificing. M’Boi discovered them and chased them. In rage he opened the earth and split the river in two, creating the Iguazu Waterfalls. This knocked Taruba out of the canoe and on to the riverside. Naipi, about to fall off the waterfall made by the crack in the earth, was turned into a big stone. She ended up on the bottom of the falls. M’Boi then made Taruba into a palm tree on top of the waterfall, with deep roots. This way he cursed the couple to always be able to see each other, but never touch.

Still, on couldfree days, a bridge in the form of a rainbow connect the two.

How to get to Iguazu Falls from Buenos Aires

The best way to get from Buenos Aires to Iguazu is by taking a plane. An airport near Iguazu falls is definitely not hard to find, There are airports on each side of the border. Aeropuerto Misiones in Puerto Iguazu, Foz do Iguaçu International Airport in Foz do Iguaçu and Guaraní International Airport in Cuidad del Este.

If your flight doesn’t arrive too late, you can easily land in Paraguay or Brazil and then go to the Argentinean side of the border to your accommodation. Though the easiest, and usually cheapest, flights from Buenos Aires go to Iguazu is normally Puerto Iguazu.

How to visitIguazu Falls National Park Travel Guide view point

As said I definitely would recommend staying in Puerto Iguazu or Foz Iguazu when you visit the falls. Calculate in an extra day or two, especially if you go during the rainy season. If the weather is bad or other uncalculated things happen you can do other activities in the area and go back on a sunnier day.

Buenos Aires to Iguazu Falls by bus: If you’re a backpacker and have time of your hands, you can easily take a bus from Retiro bus station in Buenos Aires, to Puerto Iguazu, just prepare for a long journey.

Lastly, there are day tours from Buenos Aires to Iguazu and back in one day. It’s definitely better than not going at all, just prepare yourself for a LONG day.

How to get to Iguazu Falls from Puerto Iguazu

If you want to visit the Argentinean side, you’ll visit the province of Misiones where Parque Nacional Iguazu lies. I recommend that you stay in Puerto Iguazu. This makes it way easier to get to the park in the morning especially if you want to go by public transport.

It’s still fully doable even if you stay in Foz Iguacu, but will take you a little longer as you have to cross the border first.

Bus to Iguazu Falls

There are buses going to Iguazu ever 20 minutes under the company Rio Uruguay. They are marked “Cataratas” starting from the “Hito Tres Fronteras” monument. They go by the Puerto Iguazú Bus Station, but also make other stops along the way. The stops are marked. From start to finish the bus takes 40 minutes.

There are buses going from Iguazu and you can buy them at a separate desk at the tourist office outside the park. The first bus to the park leaves at 6:30 a.m. and the last bus from outside the park to the city leaves at 8:00 p.m. The bus from Purto Iguazu to Iguazu cost 75,00 pesos per person.

Iguazu Falls Argentina

About 80% of the Iguazu falls are on the Argentina side of the border and the park is also significantly bigger than the National park on the Brazilian side. The Iguazu National Park is 67,720 hectares

Iguazu Falls information

Park Opening hours

The park is open every from 8.00 to 18.00, ticket sales and entering the park is allowed until 16.30 once every month when there is a full moon, they will leave the park open for special full moon tour. Definitely check out that offer if you happen to be visiting around full moon!

Entrance fee Iguazu falls Argentina 

Entrance tickets to Iguazu falls are 700 pesos per person. You get a 50% discount on your second day if you validate your ticket before you leave on your first day. Your second day then has to be the next day.

Mercosur Residents as well as children get discounted prices.

They do accept card payments at the park now as well as in the restaurants in the park. However, it’s always nice to bring some extra cash just in case and to pay for the bus. If you want to pay in cash, remember to bring pesos, they will not accept reales, dollars or any other currency.

How much time do you need to visit Iguazu Falls?

How much time you need really depends on what you want to do an see. There is plenty to see to stay for an entire day, just prepare for a lot of walking. We spend around 7 hours in the park, and I would recommend you to calculate at least 6-7 hours for your visit.

All you need to know to visit Iguazu falls Argentina side

What to do in Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls National park has several paths to walk and like mentioned you can stay for hours on end walking among green jungle, the rainbow-filled mist from the many waterfalls, see insects, wildlife and maybe even spot some fish and turtles in the water if you keep a lookout.

It’s easy to get around in Iguazu National Park. There are many different trails you can do in the park check them out on this official map over the park, but note that the trail and boat to Isla San Martin that earlier was included in the entrance ticket, is now not doable anymore due to security issues. In addition to the trails you also have the Jungle train running through the park.

The Jungle Train

The jungle trail or tren de la Selva, in Iguazu, is actually ecological in the sense that it runs on a special gas that doesn’t pollute the forest and environment in the park. It takes you to a peaceful journey through Iguazu Parque National.

You can get off and on any of the trains stations, but remember that to get on you have to get a (free) ticket in a stand close to the boarding area. This ticked divides you into a group and if there are a lot of people waiting to take the trail, you might have to wait for the next one if the group is already full.

The Jungle Train has 3 stops in the park:

Estacion Central: the first stop is right by the entrance of the park called central station.

Estacion Cataratas is the next stop. From this station, you can easily access the trails of the Upper and Lower Circut.

Estacion Garganta: The end stop is the famous Devil’s Throat.

The first train leaves from the central station 08.30 and the last one 16.00.

Tips: When it comes to what distances to take the jungle train in the park, I recommend taking it from Estacion Cataratas to Estacion Garganta. The trail along this route is not as interesting as the other trails. It’s also pretty long, and if you only do a one day trip to Iguazu Falls, you’ll have to prioritize. When it comes to the trail from Estacion Central to Estacion Cataratas, you should just take the green trail. Cause of the short distance, it’s usually faster than waiting for the jungle train.

The different trails in Iguazu National Park

Green Trail: The Green trail takes you from the entrance are to the jungle trains second stop. If you plan on doing the Lower or upper circuit before you go to the devil’s throat,  I would definitely recommend taking this trail instead of getting on the jungle train. The trail takes you about 10 minutes and the trail usually has

Looking at Salto Bosseti where you could stand almost underneat the flowing water!

Lower circuit: On the map, this is marked as with the blue lines and is
1700 meters with some stairs and small inclinations. This circuit was my favorite as it takes you past some absolutely stunning waterfalls and paths through the jungle.

My favorite waterfall on this route definitely was Salto Bosseti as the walkway right underneath the waterfall and you get to feel the wind in your hear, the loud water passing right in front of and underneath you. My boyfriend and I actually loved this so much that we ran back down to check it out again later that day haha.

This circuit used to take you to a point where you could board a boat included in your entrance ticket. This boat would take you to San Martin Island where it was possible to swim and relax. Due to danger, this is not possible anymore.

Upper Circuit: The upper circuit is 1.75 km and pretty much flat the whole day. As the name might suggest, this trail gives you a panoramic view of the cataratas. You’ll pass on top of many of the waterfalls you pass in the Lower Circuit, and one part takes you through the jungle. The endpoint of the walkway is at San Martin viewpoint, on top of Salto San Martin.
The view from this spot was also incredible and is supposed to be one of the best panoramic viewpoints on the Argentinean side of Iguazu. You can see the other walkways, various hotels and the park on the Brazilian side of Iguazu from here!

Additional tip for visiting Iguazu Falls – You can download the Iguazu National Parks own app to get information on the go. It works offline and even has an interactive map.

    La Garganta del Diablo:

    The Famous La Garganta del Diablo that it also goes by in Spanish is the most famous and recognized waterfall of the Iguazu falls. It’s an 80 – 90meter wide canyon in the Iguazu waterfall. It is located in the middle of the falls and has the longest straight drop in the entire waterfall, about 8o meters. The devil’s throat of Iguazu offers a unique 260 degrees view of the waterfall as it’s U-shaped, with water down on all 3 sides.

    There Devil’s throat is reachable by the parks Jungle Train, hiking trail & a suspended walkway that puts your right on the top edge of the waterfall.

    La Garganta del Diablo Iguazu Falls Rainbows
    There is just no photo that can make La Garganta del Diablo justice. The U saped part of Iguazu Falls is an incredible sight.

    Macuco trail and Arrechea Falls:

    The trail is about a 3.5 km long and starts from the Central Station. It takes you about an hour to walk it down and a little longer to get back up. The end destination of the trail is Salto Arrechea. This is the only place in the National Park where you can swim, so definitely do this on a warm, sunny day. With that said though, you’re bound to be wet on the other trails as well.

    Take in the wildlife and vegetation:

    Iguazu National Park has over  2,000 vascular plants species, typical for the subtropical humid climate. In addition, it’s home to a big variation of wildlife, ranging from tapirs and monkeys to jaguars and caymans. The most common sight is the Caoti, a cute relative of the raccoon. They are all over the park and definitely not shy of people. Be careful though as they are quick to get away with your lunch if you leave it for a second. It goes without saying, but even if they are not afraid of people, they are still wild animals. We saw several warnings about petting them in the park, as they tend to bite and scratch if they feel uncomfortable. Definitely not how you would want to end your day.

    Other then that, monkeys are quite a common sight as wells as a variety of birds.

    Iguazu Falls Argentina Coaties Wild life

    Best way to visit Iguazu falls

    You are free to do the paths in whatever order that you want to when visiting Iguazu falls. I suggest asking the staff in the park what their advice would be because they will have an idea of where the crowds will be. When we got to the park they told us that it was really crowded at The Devils’ throat and we also saw long lines at the train. Therefore we decided to start with the lower circuit, then the upper circuit and actually saved the Devils throat till last.

    What does it cost to visit Iguazu Falls

    So how much does it cost to visit Iguazu falls for a daytrip? The answer to this question really depends on what kind of way you choose to visit. If you’re going with a tour to Iguazu Falls, it’s definitely another price then going by yourself.

    These are the expenses we had while exploring Iguazu in one day
    Iguazu falls entrance fee 700 pesos
    Iguazu National Park entrance fee for Argentineans(my bf) 360 pesos
    Bus to and from Puerto Iguazu to the park 75 pesos x 2
    Airbnb apartment, two nights for 1131 pesos

    A total of 2341 pesos or about 52 dollars, plus some food expenses, but in general an experience well worth the money.

    How to visit Iguazu Falls

    Best time to visit Iguazu falls

    The ideal day to visit Iguazu falls is a sunny day with little to no clouds when it’s not too warm outside. That way you’ll be able to see the mini rainbows that show up all over the park, created when the sun shines on the mist coming from the waterfalls.

    Also, take into account local holidays as the park will see way bigger crowds during these vacations. December and January are big holiday months, as well as easter and parts of July.

    Iguazu seasons

    Iguazu falls weather varieties through the four seasons. The best time to visit Iguazu would maybe be late summer, early autumn. Even though these months will be very warm, the park will have full powerful waterfalls and mostly sun.

    We visited during the rainy season, which can be a bit of a hit or miss with the sun. Still, we loved it and got to see so many full waterfalls and colorful rainbows all over the park. However, we had to wait around in the area around the triple frontier for a few days to be lucky enough with the weather, but there was plenty of things for us to do. We also stayed with a really nice Couchsurfing host in Ciudad del Este, both before and after our Iguazu visit. This made our stay in the area even more special.

    Summer – December to February: These months are called the rainy season. But that doesn’t just mean rain, but also very warm and humid climate. However, the rainy season is when Iguazu has the fullest waterfalls. Visiting during these months, you can risk that you visit on a cloudy day and therefore miss out of the amazing rainbows that the mist from the waterfalls creates.

    If you choose to visit during the rainy season, calculate a few days extra so that you can visit on a day the sun is out. After all, there are plenty of other things to do in the area.  Still, if your only option is to visit Iguazu on a cloudy rainy day, do it! These waterfalls are incredible in almost any weather condition

    Autumn – March to May: This is the dry season in the area and the air will, therefore, be less humid, but still very hot and the river will usually still have high water levels.

    Winter – June to August: The average temperature is around 17 degrees. This might not sound too bad(or is it just me being from Norway?), but with a long day of sightseeing and getting wet, remember some extra clothes and a ticker jacket.

    Spring – September to November are even dryer months. These months are perfect for walking around without the insane\heat and humidity, still, the waterfalls are not as powerful as during and right after the dry season.

    What to bring to Iguazu falls

    Dry bag – If you want to go for the full Iguazu experience, there is no way getting around it. You’ll get wet, probably soaked. But don’t worry, you’ll dry quickly in the sun. The same can not be said for your electronics and other belongings. A dry bag is definitely nice to bring! The one on 5 liters is perfect to have in your backpack.

    Towel – I don’t think you necessarily have to bring a huge beach towel, after all, you have to carry everything around all day. Still, a small travel towel will probably come in handy after some of those mist showers. I think these travel towels are great as they come as one big towel(perfect for hostel showers), and one small one, that would be perfect to have in your backpack at Iguazu Falls.

    Bikini – However, if you’re spending time down at Arrechea Falls and plan on going for a swim, definitely bring that beach towel. And ofcours a bikini!

    Change – If you visit on a cloudy day, your clothes might not dry that fast. You might get cold, so bring some extra change so that you can change and don’t get sick.

    Sunscreen – And lots of sunscreens. The sun is so strong in South America, and you might not feel the heat of the sun as you will be walking though rainbow filled mist, but mark my words, you will burn if you don’t apply sunscreen regularly throughout the day. This sunscreen is biodegradable, eco-friendly, and even waterproof, so this should definitely be your best friend while in Iguazu Falls!

    Camera – Bring your camera. I love my Sony Alpha6000, especially for travel as its lightweight and compact. If you have an action camera you should definitely bring it too, perfect for footage in the areas with a lot of water spray. If you are so lucky to have a waterproof case for your normal camera device, definitely bring it! Check out these options for Sony Alpha, waterproof purse and water and diving proof case!

    Rain and windproof jacket – Depending on what season and weather it is in Iguazu Falls when you visit, a rain and windproof jacket can come in handy. I love my Helly Hansen jacket as its perfect for traveling, it folds into one of the pockets, keeping it easy to find and put un your daypack.

    Poncho – So I have to admit that I’ve had a few of those “use and tose” disposable ponchos through my travels, and even though they can be used again, I’m just not a big fan. They are chunky and not that easy to store for another use. That’s why I like the idea of these ponchos that are reusable and comes with a little zip bag for compact storage in your backpack!

    Good walking shoes or sandals – I’m all for comfy footwear and currently have a pair of Salomon trail/running shoes high up on my list. I love that they are lightweight, have a good grip and are multi-functional!

    When I went to Iguazu I used my faitful Nikeies.

    Mosquito spray – Definitely bring a mosquito repellent as you’ll be walking in the humid jungle. The last thing you want ruining your day is having to worry about insect bites. This insect spray is eco-friendly and perfect for those with sensitive skin too. They even give you a 30-day money back guarantee if you’re not happy with it. Also, check out this odorless permethrin spray for clothes!

    Waterbottle – It’s hot in Iguazy falls and you’ll most likely spend over 5 hours walking around in the park. Don’t forget to hydrate! It could be a good idea to invest in a Life Straw bottle, especially if you’re skeptical about drinking the water in Argentina(I’m not). That way you can ask the restaurants to refill your bottle and save the environment, but also a couple of pesos. If you’re like me, however, you can check out this foldable bottle that after my opinion is the perfect size and material!

You Might Also Like

2 Comments

  • Reply
    Josy A
    May 4, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    Beeeeautiful! I love visiting waterfalls, but these just seem epic!! The Caoti are incredibly cute to!!

    • Reply
      julie
      May 4, 2019 at 7:20 pm

      Truly one of the most incredible waterfall experience I’ve had! And they are super cute, but also annoying as they’ll try to steal your things and food hehe

Leave a Reply