The Iguacu Falls are like something out of a dream! They were incredible, and if you go on a sunny day, the rainbows coming out of all the waterfalls are a bloody good treat too! I visited both sides of the falls in two days, and I tried to do this on a very tight budget. Here’s how I did it:
Iguacu Falls, Brasil
How to get to Foz do Iguacu:
I took a bus from Sao Paulo – 14hrs and $R235, but you can fly straight into Foz do Iguacu, bus from Campo Grande, or bus from Argentina or Paraguay.
How to get to the Iguacu falls (Brasil side):
The township has a main public bus terminal (TTU) for transport to the surrounding attractions such as the Iguacu Falls, The ITAIPU dam, and the Three Frontiers. On the side streets next to this terminal are the bus stops for public short distance travel to Paraguay and Argentina. For long distance intercity travel you need to go to the Rodovaria terminal out of town, close-by Klein Hostel.
- Make your way to TTU. Use Google Maps or Maps.Me, or ask for a map for your hostel to find where this is. If you are staying in the city centre you could probably walk there.
- If you are staying out of the centre of town, like Klein Hostel, go to your nearest bus stop on the main road, on the side of the road pointing towards the city centre, and take any bus that says either TTU or Terminal on it, this will get you in to TTU. This bus will cost $R3.20, and you will NOT need to pay again once you are inside the terminal.
- If you are walking to the bus station, you need to pay $R3.20 at the entrance gate. Whether you take the bus from, or walk to the terminal, the fair is the same. If you leave the terminal, you will have to pay again as you do not get a hard copy ticket.
- Now you are in the terminal, take the number 120 (Linha 120) bus to the Iguacu Falls. This bus will also take you to the Bird Park which just across the road from the Iguacu Falls entry. NOTE: please check on the big white board in the terminal that this bus number has not changed. This was the number as at September 2016.
- If you know the L120 bus comes past a bus stop near you, you can take the bus directly from there.
- The bus cruises around the city for quite a bit, about 40mins, picking up people from bus stops along the way. It is very obvious when you reach the park. It’s the stop after the bird park.
- The brasil side can take from 30min to a couple of hours to wander around, depending on how much time you want to spend there!
- Cost is $R57 which include compulsory costs of park fee, bus fee to the falls once in the park, and another random park fee of like $R2.
- Take the same bus back to the terminal from the bus stop on the opposite side of the road, this will cost you another $R3.20.
- There are heaps of optional extras such as rafting and hiking, but these are at an extra cost!
- The total cost of your trip (minus any of the optional extras) should be $R63.4 as at September 2016.
Many people decide to take an organised tour for the Argentina side of the falls, as this can make it less of a hassle to get through the border. The tour offered at Klein Hostel, and many other hostels is not really a tour, it’s more like transport to and from the falls, through the border crossing, and includes your park fee. The guide doesn’t actually take you around the park, they just drop you off and pick you up! The cost was $R175-160 per person depending on how many people are in the tour group.
I decided against the tour as dollar/reai counts, and I believed I could do it cheaper! Now that I have done it, I believe I could have done it even cheaper! Here’s how I did it:
Total cost (Argentina side)
The total cost was $R118.6. This included: Park fee (330 Argentinian pesos/ 72 Reais), return bus fee to and from park from the Argentinian bus terminal (130 A. pesos/ 28.2 Reais), public bus costs from to and from Argentinian terminal from Brasil (4 Reais). This was a savings of about $R42 if you were to go with a organised tour.
How to get there:
- If you are outside city centre, bus to TTU $R3.20
- From outside TTU, take the bus with ‘Argentina’ written on the window. It will cost $R4 to the border. You must get off here to stamp your passport out of Brazil (important!!). NOTE: If you can get on a ”Rio Uruguay” branded bus straight from outside TTU, and ask for a hard copy ticket, you will only have to pay this once! Otherwise you will have to pay for your bus to the next border crossing as well.
- Wave down the next bus going to Argentina (preferably the same brand bus you took to the first border). This will take you to the Argentinian border crossing to stamp your passport. If your bus driver did not give you a ticket for the last bus, or the bus is a different company to your first bus, you will have to pay another $R4. This bus waited at the border crossing for everyone to stamp their passports.
- Get back on this same bus an ride it to the terminal. It will be obvious when you get there.
- Take the “Rio Uruguay” bus to the park. This is the main transport to the falls in Argentina. It takes about 20mins to get to the National Park entrance. This cost us 130 Argentian pesos/$R28.2 return trip back to Puerto Iguazzu terminal. I am not sure if there is another cheaper option of getting to the park from here.
- After you have visited the falls and have taken the bus back to the Puerto Iguazzu terminal, wait for a bus with ‘Brasil’ on the window. This should cost $R4 to get all the way back through the border crossing and to TTU (getting your passport stamped every time). Just remember to ask for your ticket/receipt so you only pay once.
- If you are at Klein Hostel or out of town, and your bus does not drop you inside the TTU terminal, you will have to pay another $R3.20 to take the bus back home.
General tips for visiting the falls:
- Exchange your money for Argentinian Pesos in Foz do Iguacu as apparently it is a better rate than at the National Park. I exchanged mine at the Super Muffato Supermarket currency exchange near the TTU.
- Do not eat near the Coatis, you will see why once you get here! They are so cunning and jump up out of nowhere. I saw a little girl with a bag of chips, and the Coatis jumped right up and ripped them out of her hands. One jumped into a picnic basket and stole a whole packet of crackers. A girl bought a really yum looking sandwich and as soon as she put it on the table, the coatis snatched it and ran up a tree! It goes on and on.
- Take a poncho/disposable rain jacket with you. Both sides of the falls you will get wet! (well only if you want to get really near the waterfalls, and you should!! It’s so fun!) They sell them at the park too, but it will be cheaper to buy them before you go.
- Take lunch and water with you, the food is expensive at the parks. However, every now and then you will find potable water in the park to fill your bottles.
- The Brasil side does not take as long as the Argentinian side. If you are planning on visiting both sides in one day, you will have to get up very early as the buses can be hard to negotiate. You never really know when they will turn up. A bus to Argentina will take around 2hrs one way! Personally, I don’t recommend do both sides in one day :). You would be better off doing a tour if you decide to do this.
- When busing to Argentina, you must tell the bus driver to stop at the border. It seems Argentinians and Brasilians don’t need an exit stamp, so they often do not stop unless asked.
Stay at either Klein Hostel or Tetris Container Hostel. These are both great hostels.
I stayed in Klein Hostel as it was the cheapest one available with decent reviews. However, this hostel is quite far out of the town so you will need to weigh it up whether you want to spend a bit more and be close, or take the cheap bus ride into town from Klein. I didn’t stay at Tetris Container Hostel, but many of my friends have and they loved this place. It is a pricier alternative, but books up fast. (Here is what I thought about Klein Hostel)
The options in Puerto Iguazzu (Argentina side) were limited, and there isn’t as much to do there. The town is much smaller. I stayed on the Brasil side as this is what I had been told to do by friends. If you are moving on into Argentina and want to take your backpack, apparently there are lockers to keep your backpacks on the Argentinian side of the falls at the park entrance. Check out the Hostelworld website or the Hostelz.com website for accommodation.
Tell me about your Iguacu experience! Am I missing anything? Did you manage to do the trip cheaper? Let me know!