Whether in Buenos Aires for business or holiday, if you have a couple of extra days a side trip to Iguazu Falls is a wonderful break from city life. Bus trips are available, but for those with limited time, the falls are a quick 90 minute flight from Buenos Aires, and if you are already in the city you can depart from the Aeroparque Jorge Newberry airport which is handy sized and just 20 minutes from downtown.
The Iguazu River and falls define the border between Brazil and Argentina and national parks on both sides are Unesco World Heritage sites. The falls are taller than Niagara, standing at 270 feet. They’re comparable to Victoria Falls in Africa in width, but punctuated by numerous islands, dividing the water flow into over 250 distinctive falls. The bulk of the water flows over an area called Devil’s Throat, creating a thundering roar and spectacular scene. Due to the subtropical location in the lush jungle, the weather can be hot and steamy. The water flow levels at the falls vary seasonally, with the months of December and January being those with the most water, but also some of the hottest months.
Aerolineas flies several flights a day to Puerto Iguazu from Buenos Aires. You won’t find a bargain airfare, but the earlier you book the more likely you’ll get a better rate. You might also try to schedule your flights in the mornings. Afternoon thunderstorms can seriously disrupt air travel in this region.
Upon arrival, your choice of accommodations in Puerto Iguazu range from basic to luxurious, across all price ranges. The town itself is nothing but a staging area for visitors to the falls with hotels and restaurants lining the main thoroughfare. A more interesting choice for a short stay is the Sheraton Iguazu Resort.
Part of the Starwood group, this hotel is actually within the grounds of Parque Nacional Iquazu. It offers the familiar westernized accommodations, along with stunning views of the falls themselves from all the common areas and many guest rooms. As an added benefit, guests are the only visitors allowed to stay within the park grounds after hours, so late afternoon and evening are quiet and peaceful, as are the cool hours of the early morning. A delightful pool and spa refresh at the end of a hot day trekking around the falls. There are several snack bars within the park, which offer the basics, and they close when the park closes, so meals must be taken at the hotel, or you can cab it into town.
The hotel will arrange a taxi pick up for you at the airport. On the way into the park the driver will make a stop at the park entrance where you pay the entry fee of about $25 USD before continuing on to the hotel. The hotel has a tour desk with maps of the various walking circuits and attractions in and around the falls, and they can book you with the various operators of excursions within the park.
If you visit Iguazu as a 1 or 2 night trip, arrive in the morning, get settled into the hotel and then strike out on one of the walking circuits to view the falls. All the trails and catwalks are well maintained, but you should wear sturdy shoes, since there are a lot of stairs and the trails closer to the river can be slippery with spray from the falls. The upper circuit gives you a good overview of the falls, but the lower circuit gets you close to the river, and it is from this route that you can cross over to Isla San Martin in the middle of the river. This route is also the jumping off point for the Jungle Explorer boat trip (extra fee) that takes you right up to the falls at Devil’s Throat and into the falls themselves on the other side of Isla San Martin. You will get soaked to the skin on this trip, so plan accordingly, but it’s a fantastic ride and a great way to cool off on a hot day.
And, don’t miss the 2 mile ride through the jungle on a small gauge railway. It’s included in your park admission fee. Travel from Estacion Cataratas to Estacion Garganta del Diablo, disembark and walk the trail and catwalks out over the river to the viewing platform above the falls. You’ll see numerous rainbows as the spray from the falls sparkles in the air. Don’t forget your camera, but do bring something to protect it from the spray.
You will certainly see some wildlife during your stay, including beautiful butterflies, lizards, monkeys, and perhaps a toucan. But, be cautious around the coatis. These are raccoon like scavengers, and they hang around the snack bars seeking hand-outs. They can be aggressive, jumping up on your table or chair to snatch your sandwich!
In a day and a half you’ll have enough time for all the above activities, plus pool time at the end of the day. If you have additional time and a Brazilian visa you might want to cross over the border for a different view of the falls.
Iguazu Falls is one of the natural wonders of the world. It’s an impressive sight not to be missed as part of a visit to Argentina.