It is easy to take a side trip to Iguazu Falls from Buenos Aires and as this spot had been on my ever extending bucket list for some time I was not going to miss the opportunity. It was indeed magnificent.
Yes you could just do an overnight trip (flight time is 90 minutes each way) but I recommend two nights so that you can take it in properly and also because it is in the rain forest where there is not unsurprisingly a lot of RAIN! If you stay two nights you are more likely to enjoy some sunny moments or at least clouds without rain – and that is worth it.
I stayed two nights – one in the the city (Orchideas Hotel – 3 star standard) and one in the Iguazu Falls Park (Gran Melia). If I did this again I would spend both nights in the lovely Gran Melia as it is a 5 minute walk into the park meaning you can be in just after 8am and able to enjoy the walks before the crowds. It has views of the Falls, a beautiful pool and generally a cool vibe and direct access to the Park is the biggest attraction. There is very little to do in the town (other than the excellent Argentine Food Experience) and it is not far to get a car to take you there and back – if you leave late afternoon you can see whatever you want to see in the town before the Experience).
You can organise yourself onto one of the many tours around the park or do it yourself. I took a tour with EcoIguazu which included my accommodation in Iguazú and a tour guide. All the logistics were well handled by this company but the main purpose of the tour guide seemed to be logistics so if getting from place to place bothers you then use one. I could have done the Park visit alone – as indeed I did on day 2 from the Gran Melia. You buy entrance tickets and choose whether to go on the train, take the Devil’s throat walk and/or the jet boat (a waste of time in my view as it seems ridiculous to pay so much money to get thoroughly drenched – but I guess that’s just me as others seemed to enjoy themselves?!?). If you are interested in the history of the Falls and the geography and geology of the place then I suggest you get a private official guide in the park so that you can bombard them with questions which was not so easy to do with a group of 10.
The train journey takes you to the highest point where you can see Devil’s Throat and there are two other walkways – both take about 45 mins to an hour. The upper walk and the lower walk (which would provide much the same view as being on the boat but only getting wet from the spray).
Because it rains a lot I strongly advise one of those attractive rain ponchos(!) – a long one. If weather is warn then shorts and a t shirt under that is fine. Use Mosquito repellant – they didn’t bug me but they did bite me! Also keep valuables in watertight containers or leave them in your safe. When I say wet I mean wet! Don’t bother with umbrellas – not enough space on the walkways to use them without banging into other people.
Finally, the Argentine Food Experience is something different. A fun way of learning about local food, doing a bit of cocktail making and cooking (they do most of the work), meeting some fellow travellers (it is not a large crowd so quite fun) and drinking local wine. My kind of evening and they do it very well.
The walkways used in Iguazu. They are designed so that the base is fixed but the slats you walk on can be removed when the river is due to flood at which point it comes way over the top of these walkways. The water is brown due to previous heavy rains which churn up the ground – this is not the case all year.
The Iguazu Express below is somewhat misnamed but nice journey through the rain forest up to Devil’s Throat and check out the view at the top!
There is wildlife to be seen – see below and I did see some toucans flying – very cool but too quick to take pics. I kept a watchful eye for jaguars, ocelots, tapirs, capuchin monkeys and snakes – especially when walking early in the morning (you cannot enter the park before 8am) – didn’t see any – fine with that except would have liked to have seen a tapir.
The Gran Melia Hotel Iguazu – a haven in the park with the falls in the distance.
Same pic, different filers:)
Views from the Upper circular walk.
In Iguazu Town.
Scenes from the Argentine Experience and my rather pathetic effort at an empanada. It tasted a lot better than it looked!
The Frontier Experience – The river changes colour where the rivers of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay meet. Can be seen when in town.