Sometimes the dry heat of the Cuyo region can make its residents itch to go on vacation and Puerto Iguazu is on everyone’s to-do list. Ask many folks if they’ve been to the province of Misiones and they will grin, remembering the time they escaped to Puerto Iguazu, home of Argentina’s World Wonder – the Cataratas (the waterfalls). Snuggled up against the borders of Brazil and Paraguay, Puerto Iguazu is visited by Argentines and foreigners alike.
Most travelers plan about four days for their stay, two days for traveling and two days for the falls and town. However, many younger folks buy one way tickets and stay until they feel that they have had enough.
If arriving by plane, the Puerto Iguazu airport offers a $10USD shuttle to different hostels and hotels. There is a blue stand inside the airport where you tell them you’re hotel name and the shuttle drops you off at the front door. If arriving by bus, the terminal is located in the middle of the village of Puerto Iguazu and is within walking distance of most hostels, nicer hotels are located a bit further away.
A $12USD round trip bus ticket will get you from the bus terminal to the entrance of the park.
How to experience the falls
Upon arrival, you have two options. Hop a train or take the Green Trails through the jungle, both will lead to the Cataratas Station. From there, most people will continue by train to The Devil’s Throat (La garganta del diablo) but, if you want to truly get the most out of your experience, you will deviate from the crowd. Local guides suggest first tackling the Superior Circuit, the upper view of the falls. Next, the Inferior Circuit. If you’re feeling daring (or at least willing to be soaking wet), follow the signs for “Iguazu Jungle” down the Inferior Circuit to the boat launch. Aboard the boats, they will supply you with dry bags for your belongings and steer you right into the falls. (Insider tip – trash bags make for great and inexpensive ponchos.)
Boats are also available to take you to San Martin Island so you can get a little cozier with the falls. However, entrance is not always guaranteed; if it recently rained, the island can be closed for safety reasons. Lastly, take the train to the Devil’s Throat and experience the biggest waterfall in the park. To return, you can either take the train back or walk along the train tracks and become engulfed in the resident butterflies.
If you have time (and you’re not too tired), there is one last fall to see. Follow the Macuco trail to the Arrechea Waterfall, the only waterfall where guests are permitted to swim. In this section of the park, guests can find toucans, monkeys, coatis, butterflies and colorful insects. This trail is only accessible by foot and closes at 3pm.
- Food and drinks within the park can get very expensive. (A small water bottle costs about $5USD.) Pack your own lunch and bring water. The locals do not drink from the tap so it is advised that you do not either. Large bottles can be found for about $2USD all over town.
- Beware the Coatis. Coatis look like a mix of a raccoon and an anteater and they will try and eat your belongings. Keep your food in a backpack, don’t make eye contact, and be aware. In the picnic area, attendants use a tray and a stick to make noise to scare them off but these fearless animals want your lunch.
- More info can be found here!
Located on the far side of town, about a 40 minute walk from the bus terminal, is the meeting of the Three Corners. Walk through the village and arrive at the point where Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina form the banks of the river Iguazu. Local vendors sell their crafts and restaurants offer nice views of the river.
Where to Stay
If you are looking for a hostel, the town is filled with them! The most well-known is called Mango Chill. Located about 100 meters from the bus station, the hostel offers both smaller rooms and larger rooms and offers information sessions about the falls. Although it lacks a kitchen, the hostel offers three course dinners for the guests for $20USD, creating a fun community vibe.
If you’re looking to stay in a hotel, you can have your pick. If you’re looking to stay as close as possible, there is a Sheraton located within the National Park. On the far side of town, the Amerian Portal del Iguazu is located close to the Three Corners and the Grand Crucero Iguazu Hotel sits at the gateway to the town.