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Tips for visiting Iguazu falls from my recent trip


Old Mar 24, 06, 7:57 am
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Better to get the visa.

Last edited by GUWonder; Mar 24, 06 at 8:05 am
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Old Apr 2, 06, 11:31 am
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Originally Posted by GUWonder
Better to get the visa.
Yeah. Brazilian visa policy is based on reciprocity with the way the US treats Brazilians. Ask yourself how a Brazilian without a US visa might get treated trying to enter the country illegally and then think whether you'd like that treatment...
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Old Apr 6, 06, 7:17 pm
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Cool Iguazu Grand Hotel & Casino was worthwhile

I stayed at the Iguazu Grand in March. My experience was perfect, and I think the price was just about worth it. They picked me up from IGR in a nice new Mercedes, and all my transportation around town and to the falls was in the Mercedes or in a Volvo. Service didn't end at the parking lot: the drivers would get out. At the park, for instance, the driver came with me, past the entrance gates, and all the way to the starting point of the "Gran Avenutra".

Most of the car rides were cheap. I think the airport transfers were 40 pesos, and the local runs were about 10. When I wasn't off on adventure, I enjoyed caipirinhas and pinya coladas out by the pools. The hotel's restaurant appears to be the only gourmet place in town, but La Rueda, a casual place in town, was good, too. The hotel is a class act through and through.

To answer the question about the yellow fever vaccine, I didn't get one. Technically, there is some risk. I think I determined from on-line resources that 2 or 3 people have contracted the disease over the last 10 years in the Tres Fronteras zone. I asked a doctor at a hospital in Buenos Aires about tropical disease risk at the falls, and she said they've never seen any problems (i.e., lots of portenyos vist the falls, and none have ended up sick at that hospital back home).

I didn't cross into Brasil. I understand it's likely you can get across the border without being stopped, but I would discourage this if you have a US passport and no visa. You might get caught going back. In the event you are caught, you probably won't be able to get a visa ever again without tremendous difficulty. I can envision even more serious problems if the border guard doesn't like you. In short, the risks aren't worth it to save $100.

I'm looking forward to going back. Next time, I want to visit the dam Itaipu. To be sure, though, spending 2 nights in the region is more than ample for the standard tourist trip to the falls.
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Old Apr 9, 06, 8:52 am
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Brazillian Side

I consider the falls to be the most beautiful natural wonder I have ever seen.

I stayed a couple of years back in http://www.tropicalhotel.com.br/. This is a beautiful pink stucco hotel built in 1958 and within the park. Walkways allow you to wander down to excellent views of the falls; the sound lulls you to sleep at night. The hotel has a truly South American flavor and excellent service. The breakfast buffet is tremendous, drinks by the pool, toucans in the trees - I WANT TO GO BACK. The concierge desk can handle all of your questions.

Someone asked about the Brazillian visa, so they must not be approaching from the Brazillian side. I bet they can work out some special thing as noted by another poster. If I recall, there is a museum and visitors center on the Argentinian side of the falls, but I recall my walk of the falls beginning on the Brazillian side.

Just fyi, I flew in from Sao Paulo, and flew back into Rio with a stop in some city along the way - did not deplane. I must say, all the duct tape I have used in my life would not surpass the amount I saw holding the interior of this old 707 together, but we made it!
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Old Apr 15, 06, 5:18 pm
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My experiences...

I guess I'll share my experiences from a little over a year ago.

I had a weekend available to me between Asunciˇn and Buenos Aires, and I chose to spend it at the Falls. I asked an agent in ASU to make some arrangements for me... well, he went beyond the the call of duty to the point that all I had to do was show up. The name of the agency in ASU was Intertours, but most importantly, the agents delivering the services at the Falls were Martin Travel (if anyone is interested, the phone number is (55-45) 523-4959, e-mail is martin.travel@foznet.com.br).

I arrived by bus into Foz de Iguašu (in Brasil) on Saturday morning, was picked up and driven to my hotel where I had a chance to freshen up in my room and have breakfast. Then my 'handler' drove me to a travel agency so I could buy my IGR-AEP ticket on AR for the following day, and then to the entrance to the Park on the Brasil side of the falls, where I joined the rest of the 'group.' 'Group' is pretty loose here... we were given enough orientation and time and allowed to enjoy the falls at our pace. In the afternoon we returned to Foz by bus (there was an option to continue to Itaipu which I declined).

The hotel was the Continental Inn, which was quite good. Breakfast was included.

The next morning after breakfast we got picked up by bus and crossed the border into Argentina. The tour guide handled all the passport control matters for the handful of us that needed our passports stampedŚit took all of five minutes. Then we went to the Argentina side of the falls and had just about the entire day to enjoy it (including plenty of time for boat rides and a trek thru the rainforest). Sometime in the afternoon, a driver showed up to drive me to the Puerto Iguaz˙ airport for my flight to Buenos Aires. That evening I was enjoying some Flan with Dulce de Leche in Recoleta (but that's another story )

IIRC, I paid ~USD 100 for the hotel and all the ground services (my meals, entrances to the Parks, and excursions were extra). The IGR-AEP one-was was also ~USD 100. I didn't have to worry about visas, as I didn't need any.

In summary: it is definitely a must to see both sidesŚthe experiences are different enough to warrant it. I'd say that a half-day is sufficient for Brasil, and would allow a full day for Argentina. I would also say that it is worthwhile to have some "ground" arrangements made, as that can save a great deal of time and aggravation with getting to the parks themselves, border crossings, etc. For those starting the excursion in Argentina, AFAIK, if one is going to Brasil strictly for the day (with no overnight), no visa is required (this was confirmed to me by the tour guide, who ferries people back and forth everyday and who does the 'talking' with the border guards). Having said that, you should be aware that there is not much to Puerto Iguaz˙, whereas Foz de Iguašu is a pretty lively city with lots of lodging and dining choices.

As for the Sheraton, I find it a bit of an eyesore... and as with most eyesores, they're OK when you're inside as you don't have to look at them

Last edited by WindFlyer; Apr 22, 06 at 7:41 pm Reason: edited to add Martin Travel info.
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Old Apr 24, 06, 4:24 pm
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Originally Posted by LAXGUY
Are any shots recommended, e.g. yellow fever or others, for visitors to Iguazu Falls?
I forgot the name of it, but there is one hike in the Argentian national park that is a little off the beaten track. It doesn't showcase the falls and had very few hikers when I did it. But, especially early in the morning, there is the chance of seeing a lot of wildlife, including monkeys. It was highly recommended that insect repellant be used for this hike, and even with repellant I still got bit a few times near by wrists.

I say all this because I don't know if malaria prophylaxis would have been a good idea (that, or better coverage with the repellant!). The CDC web site should have some recommendations for the general area.

There was no bug problem in the rest of the park.
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Old Apr 25, 06, 3:05 pm
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I've been to the falls twice, most recently in October where I based my stay on the Brazilian side. I would concur with those recommending a full day in Argentina's national park and a half day in Brazil's national park.

The Brazilian immigration officers did not stop us leaving or entering Brazil. My Brazilian guide/driver said that they usually don't stop Brazilian licensed cars with official tourist permits unless the driver is by himself.

For those of you considering a visit across the river into Ciudad del Este, Paraguay (which frankly is not worth a visit unless you are really into seedy border towns), Paraguay also requires visas of USA passport holders. You shouldn't try to travel outside of CDE unless you have such a visa and were properly admitted into Paraguay.
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Old Jun 24, 06, 9:43 pm
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Originally Posted by Loran
First off, are you really flying from EZE? Most domestic flights leave from Aeroparque (AEP), which is in the city. That could be one reason for a high price.
I didn't fly out of EZE, but ended up returning there. When we got to the Iguazu airport for our return flight, it was immediately obvious that all was not right. Fog had closed Jorge Newberry earlier in the day and AR had cancelled one flight, and ours was going into EZE. There were lots of unhappy people. For some reason, Lan and Austral were able to get their planes back to Jorge Newberry.

Here are just a few thoughts on my recent--last week--trip. We waited until we got to BsAs to arrange our trip to the Falls with a travel agent there. Since it wasn't high season, we thought we would be safe, and we were. However, after spending two days in Iguazu and having an amazing experience, I'm not sure I would recommend chancing it.

My friend and I had the agent book a package which included rt airfare, airport transfers, one night at a hotel near the park with a second at the Sheraton, and a full day tour. Total price was US$390. We were staying in town the first night to save money, but we were glad we did. We enjoyed spending a little time in town eating two really good meals and taking a "taxi tour" of Puerto Iguazu and Tres Fronteras.

Since we bought a package I'm not sure what the savings was. I'm really glad we stayed at the Sheraton the second night for convenience and the experience. All construction is done, however, we had no hot water in the shower and the a/c unit didn't work. Not quite the 5* experience we were expecting. We reported the a/c problem the first night and were told nothing could be done. We didn't discover the shower problem until the next morning. Because we wanted to get started on the trails, we settled for cold showers. The maintenance engineer came up and said nothing could be done because so many people were trying to shower at the same time.

After we had checked out, we had an hour before our airport pickup. I asked to speak to the manager not so much to complain, but to find out if these problems were typical. He was horrified. He said neither answer was correct or acceptable. He wanted to discount our room rate, but since we had already checked out, he insisted instead that we have lunch at the buffet with wine compliments of the hotel. I thought this was a very nice gesture and it was good to know that these problems were not a given. The property is really beautiful. The new pool and spa have the direct fall's view and there was no mold anywhere. We saw some painters still at work in some of the rooms and mattresses being moved in, so it's still a work in progress.

We did not take the included day tour and were glad we didn't. Several who did said it was awful and that they were held captive in a souvenir shop for an hour and then spent another hour eating a terrible lunch outside the park. As others have said, there is absolutely no reason for any kind of a tour of the falls. Most of the Argentinian side is wheelchair accessible. We didn't have visas and assumed we would not get to see the Brazilian side, but our cab driver/tour guide from the previous evening said that he would take us over without problems. I'm normally not a big risk taker in other countries, but we went with him and everything was fine. All the guards and taxi drivers on both sides seem to be friends. Ironically, the difficult part was getting out of Argentina. We didn't even have to stop on the Brazil side either way. The guards just waved at our driver.

Last edited by sushibear; Jul 26, 06 at 7:32 pm
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Old Jun 27, 06, 8:26 pm
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I agree a trip to Iguazu is a must and the best place to stay is the Sheraton. Pay a little extra for the view of the falls! The ride on the river and under the falls is a must! I did a three day trip from BA and although an expensive side trip its well worth it
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Old Jun 27, 06, 11:07 pm
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Originally Posted by hobarthoney
I agree a trip to Iguazu is a must and the best place to stay is the Sheraton. Pay a little extra for the view of the falls! The ride on the river and under the falls is a must! I did a three day trip from BA and although an expensive side trip its well worth it
Missing the boatride was my only disappointment. They had opened the dam below the falls the day before, and the water level was too low for the boats to make the trip. You are right about the expense. I was travelling on an extrememly low budget and the falls trip cost almost as much as the other ten days of the trip. It was worth every dime and will be one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I regret not spending the extra $60 for the falls view room. OTH, that meant two more nights in BsAs for me.
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Old Jun 28, 06, 10:51 am
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Originally Posted by Loran
I forgot the name of it, but there is one hike in the Argentian national park that is a little off the beaten track. It doesn't showcase the falls and had very few hikers when I did it. But, especially early in the morning, there is the chance of seeing a lot of wildlife, including monkeys.
Is this the one that starts near the Sheraton and goes downhill very gently before coming to a cliff edge and goes down a very steep trail (i.e., down the cliff)? It is rugged. We did justa bit of it going down before my GF thought t'd be better not to as it was slippery and her knees aren't that good.
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Old Jul 25, 06, 5:01 pm
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It appears I'm going to see a very unique Iguazu Falls two weeks from now...

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Old Jul 26, 06, 8:40 am
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Originally Posted by MileageAddict
It appears I'm going to see a very unique Iguazu Falls two weeks from now...

I was just there two weeks ago. The water level indeed is the lowest in years and if you have seen the falls at full force as I had once before, you will be disappointed. However if you have never seen them you will be impressed despite the flow. The zodiac boat ride was not offered during our stay because the river level was too low to permit it.
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Old Aug 2, 06, 9:43 pm
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Iguaz˙ - Iguašu: more impressions...

A few other hints based on our trip to Iguaz˙ / Iguašu... (the falls are actually a series of falls and cataracts, organized in a crescent shape - mostly in Argentina - 2.5 miles long.) BTW, the $450 price is what we paid per person for Aerolineas Argentinas Condor (J) Class... which we had to ourselves. We made the trip on our own arrangements, no tour agency or packages.

From the hotel, we went outside and hired a taxi - I can't recall how much, but it was reasonable and fast, so we got to the hotel in plenty of time to check in ahead of nearly a plane load of people and snag a decent upper floor room with a falls view. (We did stop at the park gate to pay entry fees, which you do not have to pay again if staying at the hotel. There is a shop with souvenirs, some educational information, and outside a group of sad-looking GuaranÝ indian people, who have been reduced to making and selling cheap souvenirs in the beautiful lands their ancestors made their home in.)

We stayed at the Sheraton, absolutely the best in my opinion (not that it's a five star, it is in fact a mediocre hotel at a brilliant location) - get out early to the trails, and you will see "fruit loops" toucans, capuchin monkey groups, several species of parrots and much more; they tend to leave the scene when the tourists arrive en masse. (The trail to the main falls, near the larger groups of trees and near the bridges over the first couple of streams are the places, as well as the forest loop.) Stay out late - the tourists leave early, the critters come out to play again. You can easily spend two days here wandering the extensive falls and the forest trails; no need for any tours, as indicated previously, though the RIB (rigid inflatable boat) ride is a nice adrenaline trip into the falls. We were in the park when the ranger opened the "gate" at the hotel, ate lunch and took a brief rest noonish during the peak heat, and stayed out until the gate was closed.

Food at the hotel is mediocre, most things are expensive - as I mentioned, the hotel is here because of its location, location and its location. Rooms are comfortable, not lavish. We picked up some bottles of water and carried them into the hotel - infinitely cheaper than the expensive bottles in the room. Is the hotel worth it? For us it was - close to the falls, meters from the park with its own gate, pay entry only the day of arrival... no taxis, gate queues, train queues, and lots of access to great trails. BTW, there is a 21% tax on food, beverages and the hotel stay to plan for, as I recall.

We hired a taxi for a full day (about USD $66 + tip - iirc, it cost a bit less than two half-day tour tickets would have cost at the hotel, and we had a driver the entire day.) We already had Brasil visas (in the US - or wherever - be sure to ask for the multiple-entry visa - it costs the same as the others, possibly requires a photo but lasts for five years iirc. Border "formalities" were nothing - the taxi driver handled it, and since the effectiveness of many transactions in Latin America are relationship based, it was a lead pipe cinch (these guys cross the border regularly, everyone's a friend.)

Once in Brasil, we stopped at the Parque do Aves (USD $18 for two) to see the birds and critters (one hour,) took the helicopter ride (spectacular views! if pricey at USD $120 for the two of us for ten minutes - bubble cabin, lots of great photos!) visited the park (Garganta do Diablo / the Devil's Throat is the must-see but there is certainly more, four hours,) and had a late lunch at Churrascaria Bottega iirc in Foz do Iguašu (two for USD $30 all in including beer, waiters with skewers full of meats at your elbow at all times - not recommmended for vegetarians!) and returned late afternoon to the hotel - just in time for a brief walk in the park for some more looking. IMO, you can see the Brazilian side in a very few hours - most of the falls are in Argentina. DO watch out for the armada of "cute" coati mundis - if they spy food in your hand or smell it in your backpack, do not resist, they can bite and scratch powerfully. Please do not feed them and make the problem worse.

Now as to visiting this August - the rains had failed this year, and in late July, we are talking a disappointing trickle, not the usual amazing falls that dwarf Niagara and even Victoria Falls. (See this Yahoo photo July 29 - sad and pitiful!) So, the rains should be coming, but please, check on water conditions and / or keep your expectations reasonable, you won't be disappointed.

If you do go, take a rain poncho - any water at all, and especially if it starts raining, the extensive mists and blowing water will get you wet. (If you forget the poncho, there are cheap plastic ones available for sale - we're glad we took our own.) Take a ZipLoc bag for your camera - or, better yet, take a waterproof camera (we used an Olympus - and took many really nice photos, in the mist etc.) We used a day pack with ponchos, snacks, water bottles (funnily enough, you can get dehydrated with heat and humidity amongst all the water,) hat, sunscreen, insect repellent (not many, and no need for yellow fever or even anti-malaria prophylaxis, but it is always possible a mozzie will zap you with something not nice to take home.)

Clothes should be easy dry, shoes ditto with decent traeads for the wet and slipper bits on the walks and especially the many trails, like the do-not-miss trail on Isla San MartÝn, the island you reach by boat. The best Argentine trails include the long one to the Garganta del Diablo, Circuito Superior / Balcones, and in Brasil, the Circuito Brasileiro. There are many more, but these are the ones you need to see if you have limited time - jpg map here.

My falls take:

Niagara : it's OK, we enjoyed US and Canadian sides, very "civilized" with toney hotels and casinos, cattleboat rides up the river to the base of the Horsehsoe Falls. Tame, nice pleasant sightseeing, and an opportunity to buy some properly-made Canadian eisswein / ice wine to take home.

Victoria Falls / Mosi-oa-Tunya : spectacular falls from the powerful Devil's Cauldron to the zigzag cliff falls forming the "Zim-Zam" border (the well-preserved, fantastic, with its own rain forest with critters you can see if you are quiet, and you can visit Zimbabwe and Zambia sides (a bike helps.) The "Vic Falls" Hotel is well worth the visit, an old colonial grand dame - I'm just sorry I wont; ever see doorman Odwell Makamure there any more, his greatcoat festooned with pins he chnaged regularly from his enormous world souvenir pin collection (Odwell passed away.) You can also take adrenaline-pumping rafting trips down the Zambezi from below the falls (Shearwater Adventures is the oldest and most respected provider.) A light plane or ultralight "Flight of Angels" over the falls is also briliant.

Iguaz˙ - Iguašu: Wow, they go on forever, there are lower walkways, steel walkways over the water to the very brink, a brief ferry to the island surrounded by water with more great views, an adrenaline-producing RIB ride into the cataracts, views of Garganta from both countries, and on the Argentine side extensive second growth forest with lots of interesting tropical critters, from outrageously colored butterflies to monkeys and birds. Great walking, an unbelievable number of spectacular views.

I think a few of the birds we saw at Iguaz˙ included black-throated mango, sulphur-breasted toucan, toco toucan, red-chested toucan, scaly headed parrot, turquoise fronted parrot, blue-winged parrotlet, brown chested martin, reddish-bellied parakeet, red-capped parrot, smooth-billed ani, ultramarine grosbeak, dusky swifts, plush-crested jay, pale-breasted thrush, rufus-bellied thrush, blue batria, green-headed tanager, blue-naped chlorophonia, sayapa tanager, magpie tanager, green-headed tanager, yellow-browed tyrant, black-throated trogon, scaled dove, picnic ground dove, upland sandpiper, southern lapwing, black jacobin, great kiskadee, boat-billed flycatcher, yellow-fronted woodpecker, field flicker, blond-crested woodpecker, yellow-fronted woodpecker, chestnut-eared arašari, social flycatcher, bare-necked fruit crow and many more... and masses of Aztec ants in a Cecropia tree.

Last edited by JDiver; Aug 3, 06 at 11:29 am Reason: add one or two little bits
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Old Aug 3, 06, 11:17 pm
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Originally Posted by JDiver
A few other hints based on our trip to Iguaz˙ / Iguašu...
Thanks for the wonderful and comprehensive report

I trust you got to see the falls when the flow was impressive.
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