Some people I met tried to tell me Iguazu wasn’t worth it. Give it a miss, they said. I’m glad I didn’t listen to them. And I’m equally as glad that I went to both the Brazilian side and the Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls.
I was staying in HI Paudimar Falls in Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, a great set-up of a hostel with a social, laid back vibe, friendly staff (once you got past the newly arrived stage), excellent facilities, the luxury of a swimming pool and a little bar serving mean caipirinhas for R$4.
The hostel arranged everything for my visit to the Argentinian side of the falls, including the option to do a boat trip depending on what I decided when I was actually there. Costing R$75 (£27.27), this trip included speedy transits through border crossings and entry to Parque Nacional de Iguazu. Additional costs were the boat rides into the waterfalls, starting at R$50 (£18.18).
Exploring the Argentinian side took the full day and I didn’t get to complete all of the mapped trails. It was an amazing day full of walks, boat rides and the feeling of being right in amongst the powerful rush of the falls. It all felt close and loud and immediate. The ground smelt damp and earthy and the air was thick with humidity and spray.
A trip out to the Brazilian side of the falls, if you’re based in Foz do Iguaçu, is easy to organise by yourself. Catch the No. 120 bus from Avenida Jorge Schimmelpfeng to the Parque National do Iguaçu, costing R$2.60 (£0.95) each way. Entrance is R$41.10 (£14.95) for foreigners and includes a short bus ride to the start.
I jumped off at the first viewpoint with a small crowd of others. Something very noticeable was the lack of people compared to overcrowding on the Argentinian side. No bad thing. Together with a friend I walked along the pathway, stopping at various miradors to take in the scenery.
Here on the Brazilian side the sound was less intense and the views of the waterfalls were more distant; wide and open they allowed you to get a sense of scale and perspective.
Towards the end was the one opportunity to get closer to the water; to get a little damp from the spray and take in an undisturbed view of El Garganta del Diablo – The Devil’s Throat. Yes, overall it felt more removed than the Argentinian side but it actually allowed one to appreciate the place as a whole.
I was glad to have visited both sides in order to get a broader, fuller picture of the place. The Brazilian side was a short trip out, needing no more than a few hours whereas visiting the Argentinian side of Iguazu required a full day.
If I had to suggest an order it would be to do the Brazilian side first and build up to the Argentinian side. And if you only get the opportunity to do one? Go for Argentina. It’s a powerful experience.
On the Brazilian side there are also options to do rafting and rappelling (at extra cost) and close by is a bird park that I didn’t visit but fellow backpackers highly recommended.