Every single person and guide book out there tells you that if you’re going to visit Iguazu Falls, you *must* spend one day EACH on either side (Brazil and Argentina). Well, in true Monsoon fashion, we decide to do the impossible and not only do BOTH sides in one day but also cram in room for a side trip to Paraguay before having to catch a 7pm overnight bus to Buenos Aires.
Could we do it? Let me show you our one epic day in a nutshell:
Here’s how we did it:
We started off our day early by waking up at 7:30am at our hostel in Fos de Iguacu, Brazil (at Iguassu Guest House). We booked it to the 8:15am Bus #120 from the Fos de Iguacu Bus Terminal to the Iguazu Falls entrance (about a 30min bus ride, costing 2.85 Brazilian Reals):
At 09:00am, the ticket booths opened and after storing our luggage in their left luggage facility and waiting about 10 minutes in line, we paid the 50 Brazilian Reals entrance fee which included a bus ticket straight to the falls:
And with a hop and skip away, we were immediately at the entrance of the falls by 9:40am:
From there you begin a 1km hike. And somewhere along the way a band of opossums attacked Chris and stole his food:
We trudged onwards, undeterred by Chris’ defeat:
You’ll see a catwalk leading directly to the opening of Devil’s Throat. Walk it.
And then you’ll gape at where the river descends into…
Trace your steps back to the beginning of the catwalk and head up into the viewing elevators to your right:
At this point it was about 11:00am.
Returning to the entrance of the Brazilian side of the falls at around 11:30am, we split the group into the daring vs. the not so daring. With the limited amount of time that we had, I figured we could throw sanity out the window and also include a brief visit to neighboring Paraguay…because why not?
So the 4 of us (Natasha, Ben, Karthik, and myself) found a cab driver willing to take us not only to the border but through it and back and then to the Argentina side of the falls for a mere 300 Brazilian reals (split among the 4 of us, it wasn’t a bad deal.
So off we went:
After passing through the Brazilian border with nobody stamping our passports exiting the country (I guess they assumed we’d be coming back anyway?), we began to cross the Friendship Bridge between Brazil and Paraguay at around 12:00pm:
We then approached the Paraguay border:
And then an unbelievable thing happened: our car just literally went through Paraguay passport control without being stopped. That’s right, nobody bothered to check for our visas or passports! We felt like we had just violated international law. But it’s really not our fault if nobody bothered to do their job…
And immediately past passport control is the city of Ciudad del Este itself, famous for its contraband goods from all over the world that would earn it its nickname “The Supermarket of South America.” It was as if we accidentally descended upon an apocalyptic ghost town; literally nobody was around and we were probably the only tourists within at least a 5 mile radius. For once, we felt we were doing something off the beaten path.
Definitely one of the highlights of our trip.
After 30 minutes of exploring, we got back into our taxi at 12:45pm and drove across the Friendship Bridge towards Brazil:
…and then to Argentina’s border at Puerto Iguazu:
The Brazil-Argentina border is a little more professionally run as we were all properly given exit stamps upon leaving Brazil and then entry stamps upon entering Argentina.
After about 20min more of driving, we were at the entrance of the Argentine side of Iguazu Falls by 1:30pm:
Once arriving at the ticket booth to the Falls on the Argentine side, we found out that unlike Brazil, they did not accept credit cards. And the only ATM is inside the park. If you get a kind enough officer — which we did — he will let one person in your group to go inside and retrieve cash if you don’t have enough pesos. At this point it was around 2pm.
Once we paid, we got on the 2:30pm train to the Falls’ “Devil’s Throat”, this time the Argentine version. The train ride might require you get off the train somewhere in the middle and back on another one towards “Devil’s Throat”, but don’t be alarmed if you’re running short on time as the transfer is pretty quick (less than 15-20 minutes):
Take care of your belongings (and sanity) because there’s always a huge crowd heading to this part of the Falls:
At 3:15pm we began a 1km hike down a narrow catwalk, where we eventually came across the Argentine side of Devil’s Throat:
We stayed there taking it all in and left by 4pm. After exiting the park by around 5pm, we booked it to the bus terminal in Puerto Iguazu and arrived there by 5:30pm.
Then, Natasha and I spent the next hour and a half scrambling to find a way to print out our missing pre-paid vouchers that we needed to exchange for actual bus tickets to Buenos Aires. The bus company — Crucero del Norte — steadfastly refused to help us (whether to let us use their internet to access our e-mailed vouchers or to use their printers). And because it was a Sunday, everything — including internet cafes — were closed. We kept being told “go down another 2 blocks” to another closed internet café…and then to another…and then to another.
Luckily, we finally found an open internet café located inside a supermarket on the other side of town. After a bit of another snafu trying to figure out why their printer wasn’t working (it wasn’t turned on), we ran back to the bus terminal to exchange them for tickets.
We managed to get on our 7pm bus just in time.
And with that, we begin our 18 hour overnight bus ride to Buenos Aires…
– At time of posting in Iguazu Falls, it was 55.4 °F – Humidity: 40% | Wind Speed: 5km/hr | Cloud Cover: clear