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IGUASSU FALLS (IGUACU FALLS) BRAZIL


Iguacu Falls

Iguassu Falls is simply the most incredible waterfall in the world.  It's unparalleled beauty and magnificence has to be seen to be believed.  Located on the Brazil-Argentina border between the towns of Foz do Iguacu and Puerto Iguazu, Iguassu Falls consists of 275 separate waterfalls, all pouring simultaneous streams, while rainbows dance through the air.  Iguacu Falls absolutely dwarfs "tiny" Niagara Falls, passing more than double the water, while the highlight is walking out on the falls to a point where you are surrounded 260° by waterfalls.  Simply breathtaking, Iguacu Falls is truly staggering in it's beauty.

   
Foz do Iguacu Airport - IGU

GETTING TO FOZ DO IGUACU

The vast majority of foreign visitors to Iguassu Falls, including us, do so courtesy of the Brazil Airpass.  This airpass lets you fly up to four different destinations in Brazil for right around $400 a person.  This is less than the cost to fly just to Iguassu and back to Rio de Janeiro.  The only catch is that you can't just use it to fly there and back, you have to do a circular route - for example, Rio to Iguassu to Sao Paulo to Rio counts, but Rio to Iguassu to Rio to Sao Paulo to Rio doesn't count.  Both Varig and TAM offer their versions of Brazil Airpass - with each you can only use their flights.  You can either just buy the airpass, or if you buy a prepackaged multi-day tour, then it's all included in the price.

   
Foz do Iguacu Airport

ARRIVING AT FOZ DO IGUACU

The Foz do Iguacu airport is small.  There are no gates - you'll walk off the plane on the tarmac and into the airport.  Once there, you'll clear customs if you fly from an international destination, or just claim your baggage if you're on a domestic flight.

   
Taxi in Foz do Iguacu

AIRPORT TRANSFERS

Once you've got your luggage, you'll exit the baggage area to be greeted by a few dozen taxi drivers and shuttle operators.  If you've pre-arranged transfers, just look for the sign with your name on it.  If not, walk out to the rental car booths or the taxi area.  The Airport is very close to Iguassu Falls, so taxi fare is minimal.  If you prefer to rent a car, you'll find booths for Avis, Hertz, etc.  Your U.S. auto insurance is useless in Brazil - you'll need to purchase their Liability Insurance.  Many credit cards will cover you for theft and collision, so you may not need this from the rental agency, but make sure you check first.

   
Hotel Das Cataratas, Iguassu Falls

WHERE TO STAY IN IGUASSU FALLS

There are two hotels inside Iguazu Falls National Park: Hotel Das Cataratas on the Brazil side and the Sheraton Iguazu Resort & Spa on the Argentina side.  Both hotels are very close to the falls, but the Sheraton is kind of far removed - the Das Catarats is right there.  Just outside the park on the Brazil side, you have a few more hotels at lower cost.  One is San Martin, where we stayed.  Easy park access, next to the bird park.  Much less $$ than the Das Cataratas too.  You can also stay in either of the towns, but you'll have to take a taxi to the falls - distances will be from 10 to 30 km from the falls - but prices will be lower.

   
Iguacu Falls National Park Buses

GETTING AROUND IGUASSU FALLS

If you stay inside the park, you'll have access to the park buses, which are free and will take you through the park, to the falls, to the restaurant, to the gift shops, visitors center, etc.  If you stay just outside the park, you'll also have easy access to these buses, who depart from just up the hill from the park entrance.  For people staying downtown Foz do Iguacu, buses run every 20 minutes, costing about $2BR per person, and take about 45 minutes to get to the park.  Taxis are readily available as well, with fares to the park about $15 USD.   Rental cars are available at the airport.

   
Porto Canoas Restaurant

WHERE TO EAT IN IGUACU FALLS

There are restaurants in the Hotel Das Cataras and the Sheraton, as well as Porto Canoas restaurant, which is inside the park, in a dramatic setting overlooking the falls.  Fun place to at least relax for a bit and have a drink at.  There is also a snack bar and cafeteria available. There are many restaurants in Foz do Iguacu and Puerto Iguazu to choose from as well.  See our directory for links to some of the most popular ones.  You have to try a Brazilian Churrascaria at least once too.

   
Activities & Tours

ACTIVITIES AND TOURS

An amazing array of tours and activities are offered at Iguassu Falls, from helicopter tours to canopy zip lines, to rappelling, to speedboat trips down the river to right under the falls.  Horseback riding, adventure tours, and of course the Parque de Iguacu Bird Park, which is right across the street from the park entrance on the Brazil side.  You'll want to book in advance to get the most of your vacation.  See our directory for some websites that can help you with this.

   
Iguacu Falls National Park

IGUACU NATIONAL PARK - A UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE

Iguacu National Park encompasses 556,000 acres (225,000 hectares) of tropical rain forest, stretching over the Brazil and Argentina sides.   The park was founded in 1939, and declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986.  The different elevations within the park contain unique ecosystems, and a huge variety of wildlife.  Only 0.3% is covered by the accessible area you'll likely see - the rest remains wild.

   
Itaipu Dam

SIGHTSEEING

In addition to the Falls site itself, there are other attractions in the area as well.   Itaipu Dam is the largest hydroelectric facility in South America, and is a big visitors destination.  There is a Natural History Museum and an Aviary just outside the park.  Nearby is Marco das Tręs Fronteiras, where Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay meet - at this point you can get great views of all three countries, and of course a memorable photograph of you in three countries at once.  There is the Rafain Churrascaria dinner show in Foz do Iguacu, and the Parque Estadual da Vila Velha, which houses interesting caves and rock formations.

   
Iguazu Falls Brazil

SHOPPING & CURRENCY

There is a souvenir store at the Falls, of course, but other than than, you'll have to head into one of the neighboring towns for much in the way of shopping.  Visa is accepted at many places, and MasterCard is less accepted, but you can usually get by with it.  Forget about American Express, Discover, and Diner's Club except at the hotels. There is an ATM at the airport, so use your debit card to take out Brazilian Reais as soon as you arrive.  As of the time of writing, the exchange rate was $1 USD = $1.665 Brazilian Reais, or 2.6 BR to a Euro.

   
Rafain Churrascaria Show

TIPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

You'll find 110V outlets in most places, but bring your 3 prong adapters because most of the outlets are only 2-prong (look at Radio Shack).  The telephone jacks appear to be just like those in the states.  Bring your own clock and travel iron and don't expect any English-speaking television programs except CNN International (they are mostly dubbed in Portuguese).   Make sure to take time to see the falls from both the Argentine and Brazilian sides - it's a different perspective.

   
Sandra & Johann at Iguassu Falls

OUR TAKE

Iguassu Falls was one of the most incredible experiences of our lives.  We didn't really expect much when we came, because we were from Washington State, where waterfalls are nothing new.  However, when we arrived, we were blown away.  Absolutely stunning.  We made the right decision in staying just outside the park, where everything was accessible, but much less expensive than the hotels inside the park.  Getting to the falls by air is the way to go - it's a very long 16-hour bus ride from Rio de Janeiro.  We did a few guided tours, including the falls tour, which we recommend.  While you can see the falls yourself, the unique historical background and ecological tidbits from the guides really do make a big difference in your appreciation of the trip.  English isn't widely spoken here, but the people are very nice.  Helpful to bring a phrase book or learn a little before you go, though.   We had a great experience here.   See our Trip Report for details!


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