Iguazu Falls, on the border of Argentina and Brazil, are the largest waterfalls system in the world, but this was not the reason we decided to visit them in the first place. We are not the kind of travelers who visit the biggest or the largest sights around the world. We wanted to see Iguazu Falls because they were our love at the first sight. They looked strong and magnificent, beautiful and ideal; there wasn’t a single part of this marvelous landscape that wouldn’t amaze us. So, it was set. We take an over 20 hours long drive from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazú in order to see the falls.
Iguazú Falls are not a single waterfall but a collection of 275 cascades. The first European to find the waterfalls was Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca in the 16th century, of course the native inhabitants of this area – Guaraní Indians had known about the waterfalls long time before that. Even the name Iguazú comes from Guaraní word which means big water.
The waterfalls are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and since 2011 have been among the New Seven Wonders of Nature. However, those are not simply waterfalls but a park that is a home to thousands of plant species, around 450 bird species and mammals.
How to get there
The most convenient way to get to Iguazu Falls is to take a bus from Buenos Aires. As we checked the distance, we initially thought about flying to the Brazilian part of the waterfalls and then crossing the border to Argentina. However, after talking to my Argentinian co-worker Claudia (dear Claudia, without you this trip would have been much more difficult, if not impossible; we’ll be forever grateful), we decided that the safer and less complicated option would be to stay on the Argentinian site.
There are quite a few bus companies that provide very comfortable bus connections between different Argentinian destinations. Before you visit Argentina, you have to visualize how huge it is in reality. Especially if you are coming from Europe, where you usually don’t need more than a 6 hour drive to cross some border and land in another country. So, Argentina is huge and to get from one place to the other you need some time (read usually at least a day).
We used the bus company Rio Uruguay and it was a very comfortable drive. Here are the websites where you can order tickets online and check other bus services: www.plataforma10.com and www.omnilineas.com. The busses usually depart from the Buenos Aires Bus Station Retiro.
Few words about Retiro itself. Retiro is not a regular bus station. Unless you are used to South American chaos, you’ll be probably overwhelmed at the beginning. Lots of people, endless number of bus stops, not clear information, chaooosss… Well, don’t worry. That’s how things work here. Welcome to South America!
If not for its location, Puerto Iguazú would not be a place you have to put on your bucket list. But since we were already there we decided to have a look at it. The city itself is not so interesting. There is some noisy entertainment part for tourists, but we rather recommend a walk to Hito Tres Fronteras, a place where while standing on the Argentinian soil you could see the banks of Paraguay and Brazil. The walk to this viewing point is pretty amazing, the river Rio Parana as well as jungle like plants reminded us that we are getting close to a rainforest.
Iguazu Falls – Cataratas del Iguazú
For Iguazu Falls plan at least two days, otherwise you won’t be able to fully appreciate them. If you plan to see the waterfalls from the Brazilian part you will definitely need three days. After going through travel blogs and asking our friends who visited the sight, we decided to skip the Brazilian part and fully explore the Argentinian one. (Most people who visited both sites claim that the Brazilian part is not so spectacular).
How to get there
There is a bus service from Puerto Iguazu to Parque Nacional Iguazú. It is the cheapest and most comfortable option to get to the waterfalls. Ask for departure times and place at your hostel or hotel. Remember to check when the last bus is coming back to the city, to avoid being stuck at the park or taking a much more expensive taxi. The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Check the official website: http://www.iguazuargentina.com/ for the admission fees and the train schedule.
If you decide to visit the park during 2 or 3 days, ask at the Visitors Center for the discounted admission fees.
We strongly recommend exploring the park on foot without any guide. We visited the falls not as a part of any tour group and we didn’t miss any tour guide’s information. I mean, you have the falls and the rainforest, monkeys and coatis running around, you really don’t need any additional information.
Continue to Walking Trails (coming soon)
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