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Tres Frontieres/Iguazu Falls visit plan

Tres Frontieres/Iguazu Falls visit plan

Old Apr 1, 16, 6:44 am
  #1  
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Tres Frontieres/Iguazu Falls visit plan

Greetings, all!

In June, I'm planning to make my first visit to Brazil - solo, male, leisure, US citizen, mildly familiar with Spanish and not familiar with Portuguese. I'm arriving on a Monday morning at GIG and departing Friday evening from GRU. I have ideas about what to see in both of those cities, and what to do in between.

As an alternative, I'm considering spending a day or two in the Iguazu Falls region. Primarily, of course, that would be to see the falls. But as a map nerd and one who likes to collect passport stamps, I'm intrigued by the intersection of Brazil, Argentina (which I visited in 2008 - BA and La Plata), and Paraguay (where I've never been).

Aside from the $160 tourist visa I'd need for Paraguay (that cost is not an issue for me) I'm wondering about the practicalities of visiting all three countries in a short time.

- I'm comfortable renting a car and navigating on my own. But do rental companies at IGU typically permit their cars to be driven into Argentina and/or Paraguay? What, if any, special documentation do I need for the car (as opposed to passport/visas for myself)?

- If it's not possible/advisable to drive across one or both of the borders, what public transit and/or taxi options exist? Does anybody have specific recommendations/warnings?

- In and around Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, what is worth visiting?

- Aside from the park and falls, what is worth a visit in the falls region in Argentina and Brazil?

Thanks, in advance, for any information/experiences/advice/warnings you're able to share.
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Old Apr 10, 16, 11:09 am
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There are frequent public buses over the border (except possibly on Sundays), but without Spanish you might have trouble.

Also, buses don't tend to stop at the immigration checkpoints, so you'd have to request a stop there to go through exit/entry formalities and then grab another bus. When I crossed from Paraguay to Brazil years ago on a Sunday afternoon, I ended up crossing the bridge on foot because the Paraguayan guy who stamped my passport out told me there were no more buses that day.
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Old Apr 10, 16, 1:30 pm
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Originally Posted by discoverCSG View Post

In June, I'm planning to make my first visit to Brazil - solo, male, leisure, US citizen, mildly familiar with Spanish and not familiar with Portuguese. I'm arriving on a Monday morning at GIG and departing Friday evening from GRU. I have ideas about what to see in both of those cities, and what to do in between.

As an alternative, I'm considering spending a day or two in the Iguazu Falls region. Primarily, of course, that would be to see the falls. But as a map nerd and one who likes to collect passport stamps, I'm intrigued by the intersection of Brazil, Argentina (which I visited in 2008 - BA and La Plata), and Paraguay (where I've never been).

Aside from the $160 tourist visa I'd need for Paraguay (that cost is not an issue for me) I'm wondering about the practicalities of visiting all three countries in a short time.

- I'm comfortable renting a car and navigating on my own. But do rental companies at IGU typically permit their cars to be driven into Argentina and/or Paraguay? What, if any, special documentation do I need for the car (as opposed to passport/visas for myself)?

- If it's not possible/advisable to drive across one or both of the borders, what public transit and/or taxi options exist? Does anybody have specific recommendations/warnings?

- In and around Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, what is worth visiting?

- Aside from the park and falls, what is worth a visit in the falls region in Argentina and Brazil?

Thanks, in advance, for any information/experiences/advice/warnings you're able to share.
The best hotel is the Belmond on the Brazilian Side.
To see the falls properly you need to visit both sides of the river. Brazil faces more of the falls than Argentina but Argentina has a lot to offer as well and is well worth the time it takes from that hotel. We took a private tour with a driver-guide from the hotel. You can tour the Argentinian National Park on your own but our guide steered us around the park, unrushed, and made sure we saw the falls easily, picking the best of innumerable options.
The main part of the Argentinian park is on the opposite bank of the river from the hotel but it takes a good hour to get there. One minor point to watch is where the hotel tour office told us that we needed Argentinian pesos to purchase our park entrance and that they did not accept Brazilian currency, nor credit cards. It had to be cash and the only place to purchase pesos was a money exchange en-route, cash only. We accordingly made a stop at a souvenir shop with a vast display of tourist tat and surrendered dollars for pesos. Passage through Brazilian and Argentine immigration was fast, we never left the car, then in the park entrance found an ATM that took all cards including AmEx. There was only one dispenser and a small line waiting to use it but we took more for use on our proper entry to Argentina in Buenos Aires later on. Do we hear 'commission' on the exercise we accepted in good faith? It did not seem up to the fine standards the hotel otherwise sets.
You can explore the Brazilian side of the falls from the hotel. A trail begins opposite the hotel and is described as a 750m walk. It does not mention that it also involves hundreds of steps down, up and then down more than once gradually descending to the river below the falls. It is a safe walk with innumerable views and some odd animals like iguanas that are not concerned about passing humans. The trail might concern people with mobility problems who feared the walk back up to the hotel. However, at the far end there is an elevator to the road above and the park's free bus service will get you back to the hotel. The trail can be avoided completely by taking the bus from the hotel to the elevator to start the tour.

The hotel is at the end of the road inside the National Park, a good ten minutes drive from the park entrance and about twenty minutes from the Brazilian airport. The Iguassu Falls are huge and seem to extend in every direction from whichever viewpoint you choose. The hotel faces a good collection of falling water but to get even the best local views you have to leave the hotel and cross the road. There are rooms facing the falls but guests who pay extra for the view may be a bit disappointed.
The hotel is charming and very well run. Everything works. It has a spacious "old Colonial" appearance with high ceilings, wide corridors, lots of polished wood and a feeling of calm efficiency.
You can go into the local town which is about thirty minutes away. Foz do Iguassu (the locals pronounce it with the emphasis on the last syllable - IguasSU) was larger than I expected and is very hilly. The main area has steep streets and you think twice about walking up some of the hills when the temperature is in the high-thirties. Across the river is Ciudad del Este, the second largest city in Paraguay but we were warned that immigration back into Brazil can sometimes mean a long wait, so we did not cross the bridge.

Last edited by gbs1112; Apr 10, 16 at 2:33 pm
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Old Apr 11, 16, 12:04 pm
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A day won't do it for this area. You need at least two full days, which usually break up to morning travel in/afternoon sightseeing, a full day to sightsee, and a morning to sightsee/ afternoon fly out.
The Brazilian side takes about 3 hours to walk and take photos. The Bird Park on the Brazilian side, well worth a visit, takes 2-3 hours. The other must do is a visit to the Argentine side (reciprocity fee for US passport holders has recently been dropped) and a boat ride under the falls from either side.
The town in Paraguay is principally known for cheap Chinese products and the crime associated with the cash that brings in from the bordering countries. Totally not worth it, especially at the price of a visa. I wouldn't and didn't bother.
You don't need a car. The area is well served by local public buses, and by taxis.
There are plenty of hotels/posadas at all price points in the town of Foz do Iguacu and resort type hotels on the road from the town to the park, that passes the IGU airport.

Last edited by VidaNaPraia; Apr 11, 16 at 12:09 pm
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Old Apr 25, 16, 2:21 pm
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For what it's worth, I entered Brazil from Ciudad del Este, Paraguay and had no issues at the border. While I had been told it could be hard to get a taxi to stop at the border crossings, I had no difficulty with getting mine to do so, even with my limited Spanish. Neither the exit from Paraguay nor the entrance to Brazil took more than a few minutes.

(I was entering from there because I had come from Encarnacion, Paraguay, with visits to the Jesuit reducciones of Trinidad and Jesus. That is, admittedly, a somewhat unusual tourist venture for an American, butit was easier than I expected and quite enjoyable.)

Also, it is nonsense that the bus won't stop between Brazil and Argentina. The bus, however, may not wait for you, and it can be a long wait for the next one from the company you started with. Frankly, prices are low enough that you might as well just take the next one and pay again.
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Old Apr 28, 16, 9:45 am
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Originally Posted by mhnadel View Post
For what it's worth, I entered Brazil from Ciudad del Este, Paraguay and had no issues at the border. While I had been told it could be hard to get a taxi to stop at the border crossings, I had no difficulty with getting mine to do so, even with my limited Spanish. Neither the exit from Paraguay nor the entrance to Brazil took more than a few minutes.

(I was entering from there because I had come from Encarnacion, Paraguay, with visits to the Jesuit reducciones of Trinidad and Jesus. That is, admittedly, a somewhat unusual tourist venture for an American, butit was easier than I expected and quite enjoyable.)

Also, it is nonsense that the bus won't stop between Brazil and Argentina. The bus, however, may not wait for you, and it can be a long wait for the next one from the company you started with. Frankly, prices are low enough that you might as well just take the next one and pay again.
Re: "...I had been told it could be hard to get a taxi to stop at the border crossings..."

I've crossed a fair number of borders in my 33 years, and I've yet to encounter one (outside the EU, anyway) where a driver could possibly even consider not stopping without triggering a police chase.

Thanks for mentioning Encarnacion. That's a bit out of my way for this trip, but is there anything else along those lines (in any country) closer to Ciudad del Este/Iguazu Falls? Or in the vicinity of Rio de Janeiro/Sao Paulo, for that matter?

And thanks to all for the responses above - I'm still not sure what shape this trip will take.
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Old Apr 28, 16, 10:06 am
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Originally Posted by discoverCSG View Post
Re: "...I had been told it could be hard to get a taxi to stop at the border crossings..."

I've crossed a fair number of borders in my 33 years, and I've yet to encounter one (outside the EU, anyway) where a driver could possibly even consider not stopping without triggering a police chase..
I can see why it may happen around these parts however only for the locals. My first road crossing into Brasil was with a group of Argentines in a mini bus on a package tour to the falls. When we arrived at the border crossing I was told to keep quiet. Our guide had a quick chat with the official and we were waved through straight away without any ID/Passport checks. Seemingly, had I proclaimed my nationality we would have had to pull over and may have been delayed.
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Old Apr 29, 16, 7:25 am
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Originally Posted by discoverCSG View Post

Thanks for mentioning Encarnacion. That's a bit out of my way for this trip, but is there anything else along those lines (in any country) closer to Ciudad del Este/Iguazu Falls? Or in the vicinity of Rio de Janeiro/Sao Paulo, for that matter?
There are actually several companies running trips from Iguazu Falls to the San Ignacio ruins, on the Argentina side of the Parana river. I actually stayed a night in San Ignacio (I flew into Posadas) so was there before most of the tours show up, but it is a site worth seeing. I had looked at those trips (which also stop at a sapphire mine), but I wanted to see the ruins in Paraguay more, so I just did things on my own, via public transit (and one taxi ride in Paraguay).
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Old Apr 29, 16, 7:28 am
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Originally Posted by HIDDY View Post
I can see why it may happen around these parts however only for the locals. My first road crossing into Brasil was with a group of Argentines in a mini bus on a package tour to the falls. When we arrived at the border crossing I was told to keep quiet. Our guide had a quick chat with the official and we were waved through straight away without any ID/Passport checks. Seemingly, had I proclaimed my nationality we would have had to pull over and may have been delayed.
In general, everybody has to go through immigration going in and out of Argentina. But that is not true for either Paraguay or Brazil. It took a bit of effort fighting my way off the crowded bus between Posadas, Argentina and Encarnacion, Paraguay so I could do the formalities. And I know several people who have done day trips from the Brazil side of the falls to Ciudad del Este without going through any formalities.
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Old Apr 29, 16, 8:07 pm
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Is it feasible to cross these borders in a rental car?

If so, what's required in terms of documentation?
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