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IGUASSU FALLS (IGUACU FALLS) BRAZIL
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
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.
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
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,
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.
WHERE TO STAY IN IGUASSU FALLS
There are two hotels inside Iguazu Falls National
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
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
TIPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
You'll find 110V outlets in most places, but bring
your 3 prong adapters because most of the outlets
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
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!