iguazu falls
May 14, 2010 2:45 PM   Subscribe

Seeing the Iguazu falls from both sides: is the Brazil-side town better, or the Argentina-side town?

My friend and I are planning to go in mid-June this year, and we have 3-4 days to devote to this. We're starting from the Argentina side, and haven't decided how many nights to spend across the border in Brazil -- we'll need to get an advance visa for that, too.

People who have done this, where and how should we optimally allocate our time and money? If it helps, we're reasonably fit and we like scenery. Some activities we're thinking of include a waterfall boat ride, and possibly visiting the bird sanctuary over in Brazil.

You're not doing my research for me, it's just good to hear more opinions. Thanks a lot!
posted by swimmingly to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I would say 3-4 days is a lot. The Argentinian side has the most walking and getting close to the waterfall action. The boats go from this side. It's a full day visit. There is a lot less to do on the Brasil side, but the views are a lot more panoramic, giving you a full view of the falls, something you don't get so much on the Argentinian side, but it's a half day, tops. The Puerto Iguazu (Argentina) is a nice town than Foz de Iguacu (Brasil).

If you're going no further into Brasil then you could save yourself the visa by just going for the day and not staying overnight - I'm pretty sure (but double check) that you wouldn't need the visa for that.
posted by jontyjago at 3:03 PM on May 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

I've been there twice, and IMO, the Argentinean side is far more interesting in terms of length, and how close you can get to the falls. You can spent a very very happy full day on the Argentinean side. As you've probably read, the Brazilian side gives you the panoramic view, but I don't recall that there was that much to actually see once you've seen the panorama. But the Brazilian bird sanctuary is definitely worth the visit. I don't see, however, how you'd need more than 2 days to see both sides of the falls, and you could see the bird sanctuary in Brazil on the way to the falls.

It is a pretty part of the country, and we saw the Iguazu dam (which isn't worth it, IMO, if you can't get an in-depth tour). Also, you can cross over to the famous (rather lawless) outpost of Ciudad del Este in Paraguay, the black market capital of South America, that's worth a good half-day and a hand on your wallet. I recall that the Argentinian + Brazilian sides were nothing too special, but were pleasant enough.
posted by seventyfour at 3:10 PM on May 14, 2010

(Sorry, I meant the towns on the Argentinian + Brazilian sides)
posted by seventyfour at 3:11 PM on May 14, 2010

Response by poster: hm. ok, if 3-4 days is too much, then we'll probably spend a day or so more in buenos aires -- but im open to daytrip suggestions too
posted by swimmingly at 3:24 PM on May 14, 2010

Buenos Aires is such a wonderful city, you'll have a great time. I didn't really daytrip too much from B.A., although I did take the ferry to Uruguay and really liked Montevideo. You could do the falls in two days, not rushing, easily. And, frankly, although I love Brazil, I think your missing the Brazilian side altogether wouldn't be unthinkable.
posted by seventyfour at 3:31 PM on May 14, 2010

If your time is limited I would definitely just stick to the falls and maybe the bird sanctuary, do it all in 2 days as seventyfour says and spend some more time in Buenos Aires. There are daytrips but if you have only 3 or 4 days, you're not going to want to leave they city for one minute.
posted by jontyjago at 3:41 PM on May 14, 2010

The view from the Brazilian side is like the postcards of Niagara falls, you get the big view. I adored the Argentinian side, and was able to get right in and around the falls and still get a sense of their grandeur. For me, the ideal would be an hour on the Brazil side, a day on the Argentinian side and then head to Buenos Aires.
posted by kch at 4:15 PM on May 14, 2010

we spent a full day on the Argentina side, it was awesome ... there's even a hike that takes you down to where a waterfall lands in a pool. if you're brave enough, you can climb on the rocks and stand under a waterfall! we were quite satisfied with the waterfall experience and likely wouldn't have chosen to do the falls from the Brazilian side. Though, if there's other things to do in the Brazilian town, I would vote for exploring, Our two nights in Iguazu felt like plenty.
posted by maulik at 5:08 PM on May 14, 2010

FWIW, I really enjoyed staying at the Hotel das Cataratas on the Brazilian side. If you're there at the right time, I highly recommend going on their Full Moon Walking Tour - it's a beautiful way to see the falls, and the only time I've seen rainbows at night.

As you've been told, there's more hiking and more trails on the Argentinian side (I did this as a day trip), but the views from the Brazil side are incredible. Don't miss the Brazilian trail that goes down to the base of the falls and has a walkway out over the water - it's an amazing panorama. And yes, two full days is plenty of time to hit all the highlights, but it's a lovely place to relax and enjoy some leisure time as well. The bird sanctuary is also a lot of fun!
posted by unsub at 9:44 PM on May 14, 2010

I did both in a day, the falls part not the town. But definitely don't miss out on the Brazilian side of the falls (breath-taking!), the town you can skip if you are pressed on time.
posted by Neekee at 9:48 PM on May 14, 2010

I love Iguazu Falls -- you are going to have an amazing time. Contrary to some of the comments above, I really recommend that you take the time to see both sides - the beautiful panoramic of the Brazil side and the up-close and personal aspect of the Argentinian side are not to be missed. You can certainly take care of the Brazil side in a day trip (there's also a cool bird sanctuary there that's worth the time) -- you may not need a visa for a day trip.

Definitely take the waterfall boat trip - and take it from the Argentinian side because it's cheaper.

We stayed in Foz de Iguacu and found it a fine little town - but you'll be spending all your time at the falls anyway.
posted by purplevelvet at 10:36 PM on May 15, 2010

I don't think anyone here mentioned it yet, but there is a Sheraton IN the park on the Argentine side. If you are only going for a night or two, splurge on this ONE hotel so you can watch the waterfalls from your room or during breakfast, and hear the birds outside all the time.

Not only can you go to Ciudad del Este (hide your valuables) but you can go a little further into Paraguay to Itaipú, one of the world's largest hydroelectric dams. If you are into nerd porn, DO NOT MISS THIS. They give a fascinating (and free!) tour that was ten-fold the tour I got at Hoover Dam (along with Niagara, another place in the US I feel no need to go after being in Iguaçu).

I never got to the Brazilian side, but like others here advised, heard there wasn't much to do there.

On the BA part, DEFINITELY go to Montevideo. Montevideo is, like, Buenos Aires but with less of the stereotypical Argentine arrogance (it's kind of true...) and a LOT fewer tourists.
posted by whatzit at 9:53 AM on May 19, 2010

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