– Eleanor Roosevelt seeing Iguazu Falls.
If you are bound for Iguazu Falls, I am officially so jelly of you because seeing the falls was perhaps the most inspiring part of my trip to South America. They are awesome in the truest, dictionary sense of the word (ps if you haven’t checked out my video of the falls, you should!)
Before going, I tried to gather as much information as possible about Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil, and Iguazu Falls on the Brazilian side, but it was a bit of a challenge to find much more than pretty pictures. Anything valuable I did find seemed to be more about the Argentinian side. My guy and I went in blind, really just knowing we wanted to see the falls and maybe do a helicopter tour…but beyond that we didn’t know too much else. Here’s some valuable info if you’re on your way to Iguazu Falls, a place that is regarded by some as a natural wonder of the world.
Where to Stay
Choosing a great place to stay in Foz do Iguaçu is key. We opted for a B&B in the Centro district and we really lucked out because it was perfect — not only was the place fab, but we dealt with less traffic and distance to the falls, it was safe, and there were restaurants and bars nearby.
Overall, I highly recommend AirBnB in Foz do Iguaçu. Not only will it be cheaper than a hotel, but this is a great little place to experience a bit of Brazilian life. After finding some quaint spots, we settled on WM House (called “Home Stay” on AirBnB), a sweet bed and breakfast in a more hip part of town with bars and restaurants around. Foz do Iguaçu can feel like a small, sleepy town very easily, so being close to a little nightlife was great! Also, we got a delicious breakfast every morning and our host even helped us line up transportation for our time there.
To get to Iguazu Falls…
There’s actually a bus that goes to the falls which runs down Avenue das Catararas and costs a couple of Brazilian Reals (so basically less than 1 US dollar). Great if you’re not on a time constraint and/or really watching your cash. Taxis are also an option and generally cheap in Brazil. From the city to the falls, you’ll pay at least R$35, and depending on your driver you may be able to pay in US dollars (check beforehand, though).
My dude and I found that hiring a guide for the day was actually cost effective and the best way to see the falls with limited time, so that’s what we went with. Our guide, Nestor, was absolutely fantastic, getting us over to the falls early (I think we arrived by 9am to beat the crowds) and even waiting in line to get tickets to the bird aviary for us while we did a helicopter tour. In the end, we paid him about the same as we would have for any other taxi, but he scheduled pick-ups for us and helped us plan our itinerary.
What else can you do at the falls on the Brazilian side?
* a helicopter tour. Expensive, but totally worth it. This is especially a treat if you only intend to see the falls from one side, because really, nothing beats getting to see them from above! You can’t miss this at the entrance to the park, and arrive before 10am to avoid a long wait. (Note: if you get motion sick, be prepared for that…le woof.)
* the Parques des Aves, or bird aviary. I’m not a big one for zoos, but this was actually really fun! Flamingoes are very smelly which was disappointing to discover, but this was a great way to see all sorts of wildlife up close. The butterfly sanctuary was my favorite (if you couldn’t tell from the picture above…).
* the Macuco Safari, which involves a ride in a jeep and back upstream in a motorized boat.
* hiking. The bus that takes you into the park will make a few stops at trailheads.
There are also other attractions around Foz do Iguaçu, like the Itaipu Dam, Templo Budista, and a show in the evenings called Ipora.
Overall, it’s fair to say you’ll spend a full day or two at the falls on the Brazilian side, including time at Iguazu Falls and also in and around Foz do Iguaçu. I think that setting aside two days is ideal, just in case the weather is less than perfect on one of them (which is a totally reasonable assumption). And if you also want to do the Argentinian side, I don’t recommend trying to fit both sides into one day—it’s just too much. You’ve been warned. 🙂
When visiting Iguazu Falls from any side, there are a few must-bring items:
* a poncho. As ugly as they are, they are the best way to keep you and whatever you’re carrying dry.
* a waterproof phone/camera case. If you want to take any pictures near the falls, this is a must. Your electronics will get wet, so make sure you protect them!
* insect repellant. Although I can’t say I saw mosquitoes, I definitely got bitten by some kind of bug, especially down by my ankles.
* comfortable shoes. Lots and lots of walking here, my friends. Make sure your feet won’t be dying two hours in.
* some water. Once you’re on the trail in the falls, there isn’t really a place to buy bottles until you reach the end.
Have you visited Iguazu Falls before? Would you ever want to visit the Brazilian side?