Ortsschild Iguazu

Weil Freunde von mir demnächst nach Iguazu reisen möchten, habe ich hier aus einem alten Reiseblog von meiner Zeit in Argentinien (2002-2008) meinen Bericht mit vielen Tipps zum Iguazu-Besuch neu hochgeladen und füge kleine Aktualisierungen hinzu. Dagewesen bin ich in 2005. Vieles von dem, was ich nachfolgend beschreibe, dürfte noch so funktionieren.

Und wenn Ihr Updates für mich habt dazu, dann immer gerne her damit, nur zu!

Achtung: dieser Post ist sehr lang und ausführlich.

Reisetipps aus Iguazu

Ich hatte von Buenos Aires aus, wo ich damals lebte, ein Zimmer für die erste Nacht gebucht. Das war aber so unschön, dass ich am nächsten Tag wieder abreiste, und ich weiss auch nicht mehr, wie es hiess. Ich zog dann um ins CHE ROGA APART (in der Strasse Bompland, 2 Block vom Autobus-Terminal), was mir richtig gut gefiel, riesiges Zimmer in schönem Ziegelhaus, hohe Decke, kleines Appartment, Pool dabei. Gibt es heute noch hab ich grad gecheckt, aber keine Reservierungsseite gefunden. In Argentinien läuft es immer noch am besten mit: anrufen! Reservieren auf den Namen und hinfahren. Email funktioniert oft tagelang nicht. Aber vielleicht findet Ihr ja eine Webseite ;)… Ich würde da immer wieder wohnen, total zentral mitten im Ort, um die Ecke Restaurant, Bars usw.

Damals bloggte ich auf englisch und so war es damals:

„Iguazu is located in the Argentine region of Misiones and lays in the far Eastern tip of the country.  On the other side of the river Iguazu lays Brasil with its access to the waterfalls. The river ends in the Rio Paraná, which is the borderline between Argentina and Paraguay. A bit further South in Misiones, the Rio Urugay separates Argentina from Brasil.

Once the Paranaense Selva (Forest) occupied 1 million square kilometers. Today only 6% are left, in between the Southern part of Brasil, Paraguay´s East and Argentinas Misiones region, where the size is of 12.000 ha today.“

Stadtplan Iguazu (Ort/Stadt, Argentinien
Ein Stadtplan des Ortes Iguazu in Argentinien
Karte, Landkarte Wasserfälle Iguazu, Argentinien und Brasilien
Landkarte und guter Überblick über die Wasserfälle in Iguazu, was man in Argentinien, was in Brasilien erleben kann

To get to Iguazu from Buenos Aires, you can take the bus or plane. Puerto Iguazu is the town close to the falls on the Argentine side, Foz do Iguaçu the city across, in Brasil.

I took the plane and spent 4 days there, which is enough to see everything in a relaxed way. The month I travelled was September, which I found absolutely perfect, not the main tourist season. I was very lucky with the weather: The week before I arrived it had rained heavily, therefore the river was topped with water.  The temperature was perfect, always in the 20s (C ), bright blue sky. Until the day I left, when it started to get grey and rather typical Hamburg weather than nice sightseeing and photo weather. There weren’t too many tourists around, it’s less on the Argentine side. Or let´s say it feels less, because the area you can visit in Argentina is larger and so people spread out and can freely walk, while in Brasil you are squeezed in buses and can’t hike.

Park in Argentina:

The paths are nicer and much longer and varied, than on the opposite side. There are many different chances to get glimpses and great views of the falls. The boat trip without engine, just driven by the (slow!) stream of the river is lovely. Do it first thing.

From Argentina there is the chance to do the fun boat trip where you get soaking wet (you will!) from different sides towards the falls. I did not do that boat trip.

I often found myself alone for a short time on the paths I walked on, and sometimes quiet people passed by, no bothering. The variety of views and paths is such that you can repeat it several times, because you will always get a different angle and see something new around you.

Eintritt Argentinien Iguazu
Eintritts-Informationen am Iguazu Nationalpark in Argentinien aus 2005! (Preise total veraltet)
Eintritt Iguazu Argentinien
Eintritts-Informationen am Iguazu Nationalpark in Argentinien aus 2005! (Preise total veraltet)
Garganta, Macuco in Iguazu Argentinien
Tipp: ganz zuerst den Zug nehmen, und an einem anderen Tag, auch morgens früh, den Weg gehen (Tierbeobachtung)

Park in Brasil:

The park is huge and I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t start walking when entering, but had to (!) take the bus to get from one point to another. But that’s due to the park being so large that discovering it walking is impossible. There are several paths with activities and boat rides in the end (and a good adventure route incl. tree-climbing (canopeing), climbing, rapel and rafting! Campo de Desafios – say hello to the GM Mirian from me). But the only one to see the falls is, compared with all the possibilites on the Argentine side, relatively short. And of concrete, not such nice boardwalks as in Argentina. (Edit 2018: das scheint es schon lange nicht mehr zu geben, jedenfalls ist die Website seit vielen Jahren nicht mehr zu erreichen.)

But Brasil has definetely the better and closer view onto the falls! Since the area is smaller, it tends to be more cramped with people of course. You are never alone but surrounded by masses and there is not too much to discover on the path, but you get a very close up to the whole line of falls from the lookout area. Nice souvenir shops.

Hotel Sheraton in the park in Argentina:

Not a nice building, but the view from all rooms that are on the “right” side (the one facing the falls, the other one is a waste of money), nice and the best is their terrace: Like that you won´t regret to book an expensive hotel and spend time in your room, you overlook the National Park and in the distance you can see and HEAR the falls, that must be lovely when you wake up, or for a sundowner after an exhausting happy sightseeing day. When I asked they told me the guest never gets a falls view confirmed upon reservation.

Hotel Sheraton im Nationalpark Iguazu
Das Tolle am Sheraton Hotel mitten im Nationalpark in Iguazu Argentinien ist, dass man ihn für kurze Zeit ohne Touristenmassen geniessen kann!

Hotel Belmond das Cataratas in the park in Brasil:

I really liked that hotel, it has a cosy athmosphere and gorgeous interior design with a lot of old dark heavy wood – beds, floors and doors (a question of personal taste of course). The pool area lays directly in the forest, while the one in Argentina is rather just another pool of a hotel. But only very few rooms have a slight view on the falls, that then appear much much closer in front of the window then in Argentina. (Edit: damals hiess es Hotel Tropical das Cataratas, eventuell wurde mit der Übernahme auch das Innendesign geändert. Man kann auf dem Eingangsbild der Website gut sehen, dass die Brasilianer den tolleren Blick AUF die Wasserfälle haben.)

Both hotels:

I don’t know about walking around the Brasilian hotel, but for staying overnight in the Argentine park, it is fantastic, that you can be the last and the first out there. Of course the park is officially closed from 6pm to 8am, but there is no gate and the hotel is IN the park. So enjoy early morning walks and use the chance to see many different birds (for early risers only).

To get good rates, don’t expect to get one if you show up personally! While in other areas that might work, here it turns into the opposite: both hotels gave me rates around 260 USD per night. While I met someone I once worked with (not that any of us remembered, but we were both carrying the same companie’ss backpack – SCC), who told me he got the Tropical for an immensely cheaper rate, by booking through a tour operators website (in that case it was a German package tour operator, TUI). Was something like 50 EUR per person/night. (Edit: Preise von 2005 wie gesagt)

My activities in the Argentina park:

Edit: Jetzt empfehle ich, zuerst mal die Karte anzusehen, damit man sich Nachfolgende Beschreibungen und Orte merken bzw. vorstellen kann. Wenn man morgens ankommt (sollte man!) dann zügig voran, dahin, wo es noch schön leer ist, denn das hält nicht lange an am Vormittag.

I first took the little TRAIN far up to the end, so I was being independent from then on and didn’t have to look at last rides. You find yourself then at the RIO IGUAZU SUPERIOR (the upper River Iguazu). Then you get excited, while you march your way over the calm river with some high bushes along the path, towards the loud noise you hear: You end up at the GARGANTA DEL DIABLO, the Devil´s Throat! (PASEO GARGANTA DEL DIABLO is the name of that boardwalk). While walking towards the falls, you can see the remains of old paths, all on stilts (iron/concrete) in the water, that had been destroyed by previous floodings. Makes you well aware of the power of these waters.

I couldn’t stop saying “woooow” for what I saw then. Guess I am not able to describe what it is to stand there in my (English) words. It was also fun, once in a while a big spray of water came over and everybody laughed about it. Of course photo-photo-photo-time. Happily after the first “yessss, I have seen it, I am here!”, I walked back the same path, back to the mainland, crossing once again the river bed.

Then I took a large and spacious inflatable BOAT down the river, of course direction falls. One would think that is dangerous, at least it sounds like. But no, the river is really calm, much to my surprise, even with that amount of water it carried when I was there. It is a lovely 30min boat ride without engine. Just a paddle steers it, and the guide stops at places of interest, when you see birds or alligators. It is nature pure and absolutely relaxing (except for the annoying noise of the overflying helicopters from Brasil). Wouldn’t have minded to repeat it.

Next thing I did was eat, there is a nice RESTAURANT AREA with several price and class ranges, all efficient.

After that I walked the CIRCUITO SUPERIOR, the upper trail. This is specially nice, because you again walk over the river, but with much more forest in between. So there are several view points along the way, where you can get so many different views onto the differently named waterfalls.

You look down on the ISLA SAN MARTIN (San Martin Island), to where you can take a free ferry and rest on the beach and watch, or do a hike up and around the little island, of course getting close to the falls at different points. Unfortunately it was closed during my stay, due to the high water level on the beach.

From up there you also look down on the huge boats that take people cloooooose – no – INTO the falls. Yes, that’s a ‚Gaudi‘! To get there (separate ticket to be bought), you use the CIRCUITO INFERIOR (lower trail), which I didn’t find too spectacular, specially not in the shade, you get wet and cold. But the beginning of that circuit (in fact the only one that is a circle trail) you find a really nice and fun location: You can walk up to a tip of the trail, that is so close to a waterfall, that you feel you stand in it. Its great, an unforgettable feeling! (Get wet or be dressed properly). Make sure someone takes a picture of you, when you totally happy stand there.

The boat ride down on the river must be extreme fun. I chickened out because I was afraid of getting seasick (after my season on board in Antarctica, I would have done it, but not having been landlocked for many months before), but I watched it for a long time from above and people had a really good time and I felt jealous. Would probably risk it next time. Again: here you get wet, 100% guaranteed, and take in mind the enormous power of that water coming down, that causes cold strong winds. Its not risky, simply fun. The Argentineans can play that game on several falls, whereas the Brasilians are limited, because of how the borderline goes.

I spent the following day in BRASIL, and came back here to the Argentinean NP the day after, and would have done so for a third time easily.

Tried the SENDERO MACUCO (Macuco Trail) at around 9.30am, it was meant to be a trail where you see looots of wild animals. I didn’t see any. Guess I would have to be there at sunrise, this is when the bird watching tours (outside of the park, different tour operator) start, 4.30. But without being a guest of the Sheraton, that was impossible (besides being officially forbidden to walk around at that time). It is a nice path, yes, but you are not at Iguazu to do nice walks in the forest, which you can do anywhere else too.

Geschichte des Nationalparks Iguazu in Argentinien
Immer schön auf der Spur bleiben…

Einer der vielen fantastischen Ausblicke auf der argentinischen Seite des Parks (der Wasserfall und Regenbogen, nicht ich, hahaha)

Full Moon Walking

This must be absolutely spectacular!!! But I missed it due to the time I was there, no full moon L. Tours are even free. 5 nights per month.

www.iguazuargentina.com
Full SITE MAP with all paths, train, boats, entrance etc. (Edit: < Hier links die aktuelle Übersichtskarte, man kann sie auch herunterladen, dann lässt sie sich besser vergrössern.)

My activities in the Brasilian Park:

As I already mentioned, you cannot walk and stroll through the park as I did on the Argentine side. But theres a reason for it and its called space. The park is too big. The busses (very well organized) take you – while you get a touristic info via speakers) to the several stops in the park from where you can start different walks through the forest (so there are also walking possibilities, I just found them to be too far away from each other). I went up to the last stop, of course to see the Cataratas. What a view! It is amazing, and definetely worth it. Best is to see it from Argentina and then from Brasil, the close-up. Water-water-water, noise, spray and fun.

Didn’t try any of the other activities. But the manager of the adventure path gave me a tour around (I have mentioned it before in this text). Kayaking is an option, on the other side of the tip. The boat ride on the other side of the Brasilian tip along the Rio Iguacu looks nice, at least I have seen boats pretty close to the upper side of the falls. But you don’t see the falls falling…

www.cataratasdoiguacu.com.br

Helicopter Flight

It is that noisy and disturbing on the Argentine side, they stopped those flights that are ecologically bad for the animals, in Argentina. But in Brasil you can still do it. I was tempted, but didn’t go because there was stronger winds and I felt I would get sick right away. I would love to do it once, but would prefer it not to happen anymore at all, for the animals. The helipod is located 5min walking distance away from the park entrance (outside). www.helisul.com or www.helizulfoz.com.br. (Edit 2018: Es sieht so aus, als würde zumindest eine dieser Gesellschaften noch diese hässlich lauten Flüge durchführen.)

Timing

A good time to visit the parks is late morning, lets say 11am. Because most tours start at 8am, it is full around that time. At 12 you have the park for yourself, free from tourist groups but only individual travellers with you, since the groups are having lunch or are already on their way out again. Same for late afternoon being a good time to go visit.

Organized Tours

Not necessary for the parks, you can easily do everything alone, when not living in the parks, by just going to the central bus station. Constant shuttles. Cheap.

Bus Park Iguazu Argentinien
Busfahrplan aus dem Ort Iguazu zu den Wasserfällen, argentinische Seite, aus 2005
Bus Bahnhof Iguazu Argentinien Brasilien
Am Busbahnhof in Iguazu, alles ganz einfach, Bus zum Park in Argentinien, Bus zum Park nach Brasilien

Transfer Argentina-Brasil

There is a bus going in between the BUS TERMINAL in Puerto Iguazu and the bus terminal of Foz do Iguacu, ever so often. The bus just goes back and forth and turns the flag-sign between the Argentine and the Brasilian flag. Then you should take buses to/from the park that also go often and are easy to find.

Tip: When you go from Argentina/Puerto Iguazu to Brasil for a day (as I did, since I stayed overnight in Argentina only), you don’t have to go to the far end into the city of Foz do Iguacu, up to the bus station, which is in (the not-so-nice) town. It saves you time if you do it differently: after having crossed the border from Argentina to Brasil, you get to a roundabout. This is where the bus proceeds into town and you should turn right to the National Park later from that roundabout.

But – DANGER – DO NOT get off the bus here and wait for the bus to the park to pass by.  When I said this to my hostal owners, I was strongly warned, that behind that area are favelas (slums) and people do not bother a minute to rob and hurt you. And NOONE will stop to help you on that busy and peaceful looking street!!! My landlord was shot in the leg there.

Better: Go on with that borderline bus/van until you see the first traffic light in Foz, then get off at the next stop, cross the street and look for the opposite direction bus, stop the one that goes to the park/falls (clearly marked, probably with “Cataratas”, don’t remember).

(Edit: remember, that was 2005, and it was easy peasy back then)

Passports – Visa

Can only speak for me with a German passport: Coming from Argentina on that border we got off the bus, someone had a look at our passports and we hopped back on again. Brasilian border: No stop (!). Way back same thing. In fact, I had some backpackers in the bus who WANTED a Brasilian stamp for proving that they had left the country (they had immigrated at another place where they got a stamp). They had to run back to the border to get it.

Foz do Iguacu/ Brasil (next village to the falls)

I mention this first, because it will be short: I have not been there. According to my guide books it is of no special interest and not a nice town, and what I saw on my way to the falls confirmed it. Sorry if I missed something, no offense.

Puerto Iguazú / Argentina (next village to the falls)

This is where I stayed. I found a very nice hostel when walking around the first night after having booked myself into a not-so-nice hostel that I found in the internet.

My tip: Che Roga Apart (c/ Bompland), right in town but in a quiet side street, safe with security guards 24 hours, spacious, clean, very personal, nice landlords, lovely garden with small pool, fridge+microwave, cable tv, fan (no aircon!), big windows, thin walls

Che Roga in Iguazu, nett wohnen
Wohnen im Che Roga mitten im gemütlichen Ort Iguazu, Argentinien
Schwimmbad, Appartment in Iguazu
Es gibt sogar einen Pool zum Che Roga Apartment/Zimmer

Garten, Zimmer in Iguazu

The town itself is lively and nice, good restaurants, nice shops, everything you need.

You can walk up to a point called “Tres Fronteras” (3 Borders), there you can see Brasil and PARAGUAY from Argentina. But I got lost twice while walking and sightseeing through the little streets, being distracted too often from following the right path. Didn’t make it to the place.

Hotels in Argentina (as per 2005)

Hotel Iguazu

must have once been a gorgeous place. It has definetely the best location. I walked around the ruin and took many photos. It overlooks the Rio Iguazu (quiet) and on the other side lays Brasil. Met a security guard who told me that exactly the day after they are going to partly demolish and renovate the hotel, after it has been down for about 20(?) years. Will be a 4 star hotel in the future.

Iguazu Grand Hotel (Edit: there must be something there now in 2018! Check out and let me know, if you like

Same owners as the above future hotel. This is a gorgeous place to stay!!! Belongs to the Leading Hotels of the World chain, has a casino with it, a beautiful large garden, great spa area, everything I saw was first class. Disadvantage: unfortunately you hear the traffic around, loud.

Hotel Cataratas (a bit out of town)

Pure mass tourism. Nice garden architecture. 5 stars (not to be compared with the Grand Hotel!)

Hotel Saint George

In town, good location, nice garden, not modern, 4 stars, many people.


Other Entertainment

Hydroelectrical Plant Itaipu/ Brasil (Paraguay)

Behind the city of Foz and in between Brasil and Paraguay there is the biggest water power station (Wasserkraftwerk) in the world (due to the usage/water)? Havent gone there. Many half day tours include a visit.

www.itaipu.gov.br und www.itaipu.gov.py

Adventure Trails / Birdwatching (not in the National Parks)

This is offered by Iguazú Forest, a company located in Puerto Iguazú, you can walk by or book by phone. The brochure promises: Bird Watching (not offered when I was there in September, too few tourists), Tope Rope, Hard Trekking, Butterfly Watching, Rappeling, Dinner/Lunch in the Jungle (!), Jungle Biking, Trekking, Conoping, Tirolesa, WET RAPPELING (descend in a waterfall).

I had signed up for such an adventure day when I came, but after a few days in the park I was too exhausted and lazy for so much action.

www.iguazuforest.com

Semiprecious Stones, Mines

There are organized tours, but you can easily (if you speak a bit of Spanish) take the regular bus there and walk on your own. The town is called Wanda, as the fish… It was a Polish settlement. ! Tell the bus driver to drop you off where the side road splits to LAS MINAS / the mines! At that spot there are a few tourist shops where you can buy nice stone souvenirs. Wait. There will probably also be a girl that gives you a paper that leads you to one mine. There are 3 mines next to each other.

Then you walk, they tell you its about 3km, but I thought it was less. 15 minutes walking through lovely landscape. There will be many kids that offer you bits and pieces of stones. Many! I followed the advice I got and went to the one mine on the right. Got a little tour that I found pretty impressing, never having seen before, how those semiprecious stones grow. The tour ends in the shop J. Since I was there only once and the entrance fee was not much, I also visited the mine next to it (center, when coming down the street). It would have been more interesting, since they had offered showing you how they work on the stones. But all the machines were turned off, since they didn’t have that strong electricity for several months and new lines still had to be built. But I got a little free tour to look at the machines.

All mines are still active, but if I listened well, not for big business, just local (Argentina).

If you go with a rental car, you may wish to visit the town of Wanda itself.

I went back to the highway and was lucky. When I left from Pto. Iguazu I had tried to find out, when I should be there for the return bus. Well, it came right away, but not at all at the time I was told it would. I only had to wait for 5 minutes, feeling like in a road movie, sitting on a rock on the side of the street, waiting for a bus to pick me up…

Minas Minen Wanda bei Iguazu Argentinien
Ein schöner Ausflug von Iguazu aus geht zu den Edelstein Minen Wanda

Airport Iguazu

Is about 15 min away from town. Take a shuttle transfer, costs 6-8 pesos (2005) and make a round trip to all hotels/hostals requested.

All info from travels done in 2005.

Viel Spass! (edit 2018)

Tour Boot Iguazu Wasserfälle Argentinien
Auf dem nicht motorbetriebenen Boot am Wasserfall entlang treiben lassen, VOR dem Fall! 😉
Biometrischer Pass statt Personalausweis
Walden - Zeitschrift für besondere(s) Reisen (m/f)
Iguazu, zwischen Argentinien und Brasilien
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