10 essential things every traveller should know before visiting the Iguazu Falls - Hoboh
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10 essential things every traveller should know before visiting the Iguazu Falls

by Guilherme Rodrigues  from Brazil

Hey! How are you doing?! I’m Guilherme Rodrigues, a 17 years old brazilian photographer who is passionate about culture, languages, history and specially travel. I was invited by Hoboh to tell some things about my last trip. What I’m about to tell you today are some tips that I have learned and observed on my two trips to the Iguazu Falls and I think every tourist should have in mind before going there, that’s why I want to share with you. Well, let’s start then:

Iguazu, portrait of author by Guilherme Rodrigues
1 You should book your hotel in advance 
That might sound obvious, but some people always do let the booking for the last second. Since the cities around the Iguazu falls are very touristic, you might have trouble to find rooms in the best areas if you are travelling in the most crowded seasons. Some people let to the last time because they think it might get cheaper, but that is just not always true. Also, deciding in which area you will stay might help you planning and deciding what to bring, if you will go with a tourism company or by yourself, the caracteristics of the place you are going, if it’s dangerous, if you need any documents to pass the borders and so on.
Okay, Guilherme, but where should I stay? You said that there are cities around, not just one city, and in different countries! What should I do? Calm down, dear tourist. The three main cities that surround the falls area are as distinct as the countries that hold them. They are: Foz do Iguaçu – in Brazil -, Puerto Iguazú – in Argentina -, and Ciudad del Este – in Paraguay. I will get into that.
Foz do Iguaçu is certainly the city with the best infrastructure for the tourists, with plenty of hotels, a good public transport system and it’s located near almost all the interesting points within the three countries. Besides that, Brazil holds many diplomatic relations with lots of countries around the world, so you probably won’t need a visa, and if you do, it won’t be hard to get one. The bad part is that you shouldn’t arrive in your hotel very late, because even though things are getting widely better, you shouldn’t be a prey for criminals. Calm down, things might sound worse that they really are. Besides the news, I haven’t heard from no one there any story about thefts or so, neither have I experienced any on my trips.
Puerto Iguazú is certainly the calmest of the three cities. Even with a very present nightlife, the traffic is very calm and it is not noisy – Foz do Iguaçu’s isn’t either – and it is probably the city that you will have the most contact with nature, since it is a very small city, differently from Foz and Ciudad del Este, that are big cities. The only problems you might face are the difficulty to get a visa, the difficulty to pass the borders to Brazil (the Argentinians are very burocratic) and the distance from the attractions in Brazil.
Ciudad del Este is certainly the place NOT to stay. The traffic is chaotic, the city is dirty, the people might not know how to speak English, it’s far from the falls and all the other attractions and you should never take your phone or device out of your pocket there, it is dangerous. The positive things about there are the shopping – that you should almost never trust, mostly due to piracy – and the cheap prices of hotels. If you do want to stay there, make sure you go with a tourism company, specially if you don’t speak spanish or portuguese, so it’s harder to get information, that’s definitely the only “safe” way to stay there.
By the way, if you are travelling in the summer of the Southern Hemisphere, don’t forget to book a room with air conditioner, that is REALLY IMPORTANT, trust me. – Things can get really hot in here, up to 40 degrees Celsius.
2  Wake up early
It’s ideal that when you arrive there everything is already planned. Things there open very early, so that’s the time you should get up. Don’t waste much time in your breakfast, ideally half an hour or forty minutes is enough. If you feel that you will still be hungry, carry some food – IMPORTANT: If you are going to Iguazu Falls directly, you should NEVER bring things in plastic bags. The Quati, animal that might look like a raccoon, might steal your things, food or anything that is inside. Own experience. You should plan your day from the morning to the night. If you are in Brazil going to Argentina, or in Argentina going to Brazil,  have in mind that you might waste some time in traffic jams between the borders, don’t forget to include this in your plans. It might take you about 40-60 minutes to get to the other side of the border.
Photograph of a lizard, part of the wildlife of Parque Nacional do Iguaçu (Iguazu National Park) by Guilherme Rodrigues
3 Where to eat
If your interest is to experience the local customs in the best way, you should eat at Av. Brasil in Puerto Iguazú (what an Irony, isn’t it?). There is where you’ll find the best restaurants and the best Chorizo/Choriço of the region. In Brazil, you can find a lot of fast-foods, pizza houses and Churrascarias (Barbecues house), being the last the best to eat, being equivalent to those in Argentina. However, it might be expensive. Here, price might be equal to quality. So, if you can’t afford, just don’t. Prefer going to a fast-food or any bakeries or markets. In Paraguay, I sincerely don’t know. There are people that say it’s good and people that say it’s just terrible. Don’t forget to visit the Icebar Iguazu, a restaurant made entirely with ice, preserved at -10 degrees celsius and in which you have open bar. Unfortunately, you can just stay there for 30 minutes. It’s very fun to see the sculptures, though, and there’s just one way to keep yourself warmed: dance. The bar is located at Ruta 12, the same road you take to go to the falls on the Argentinian side. IMPORTANT: don’t go wearing shorts, even though they provide you a coat, you will feel cold.
Iguazu, the author and his friend Snowbear by Guilherme Rodrigues
4 Prefer to rent a car. 
Renting a car gives you the most freedom you can have in a trip. You are not chained to the tourism company’s time and you can enjoy what you want when you desire. Don’t forget to get a international driving license and the green card, a document that you need to aquire in order to freely pass through Brazil and Argentina, it’s obligatory to have, it’s an insurance for third parties. Check that in you car rental company, even though they might charge you more for it, it’s the easiest way to get one. If you don’t want to pay that much, there is a place about 200 meters from Brazil’s border, on the way to Argentina, that does the job (there’s a big sign saying “Carta Verde”), don’t worry it’s official. About Paraguay, don’t go there with a rented car, prefer going with public transport from Foz do Iguaçu, it’s safer. Most of the companies don’t even give the authorization to do so, due to the chaotic traffic there.
Also, most of the places you’ll visit have parking, so don’t worry about that too.
The Argentinian side of the falls, on Parque Nacional Iguazú, view of the bridge that takes us to the Devil’s Throat by Guilherme Rodrigues
5 Buy many things
That’s a thing Paraguay does well: selling. The only attraction in Paraguay is the shopping. There you can find many cheap things, that you should always supect. Don’t forget to check which stores are trusteable and wich aren’t. A quick search on Google will answer that in five minutes. The most reliable place to buy is Shopping del Este. Yes, you can trust. I have buyed there myself.
Sometimes you will find sellers trying to carry you to their stores, and you can’t just say no, they are very insistent. But don’t waste your time or get impressed, the majority of the stores that use this kind of strategy are full of piracy.
In Argentina, on the other hand, you don’t need to worry about piracy at all. Puerto Iguazú is the perfect place to buy local crafts and food. The main things that you should certainly try out are the outstanding Dulce de Leche/Doce de Leite, the Alfajores the excelent wine. The Doce de Leite is simply amazing, unlike anything you, foreigner, have ever tasted. You can find an amazing dulce de leche with coffe in a store in Perito Moreno street.
Iguazu, all the foods I have bought in Argentina that just have a delicious taste by Guilherme Rodrigues
6 Equipment care
That might sound stupid, but I ran out of batteries a lot of times. Don’t forget to bring your charger to everywhere you go, you might find available sockets for you to charge. An alternative to that is the portable chargers, you should always have one. That thing saved my life a lot of times (I bought it in Paraguay, by the way). About your cameras, if you do have a professional camera, great! you shouldn’t have much problems. Their battery life is quite great and it should handle well in full charge. If your camera is more “amateurish” don’t worry, you just need some spare batteries and it should be fine. Also, if you are a professional photographer, bring your neutral density or polarizer filters for long exposures.
It’s important to never use you equipment near the falls. You should never take your camera out of your bag in the nearest spots of the falls (you will get you soaked, literally) and let your bag under your raincoat. Prefer to take pictures using your phone with an waterproof bag. There is a lot of water in the air and it might damage your equipment, I have lost a camera this way.
Iguazu, view from the tower at the Brazilian side of the Iguazu Falls, Parque Nacional do Iguaçu (Iguazu National Park, Brazil) by Guilherme Rodrigues
7 Visiting the Brazilian side of the falls
This is definitely where you will get the best views. I highly recommend you to take two days to visit exclusively this side of the falls, one for pictures (You can’t just stop holding your camera to take pictures) and one just for the appreciation. I did this on both of my trips and I don’t regret it even for a second. There aren’t many things do do, but the view is simply stunning. Sometimes you can get bad weather, that’s one of the reasons you should go two times, you will probably get a better one.
Arriving there is quite easy, there are signs everywhere on the roads and most of the guides there speak english. When you arrive there you will take the bus that takes you to the falls. Pay attention to the stations and what they do offer, from trails to interesting spots in the river and other attractions – one of them is Macuco Safari, in which you ride a boat that allows you to almost touch the falls. You will get soaked if you do so. You need to get off the bus on the penultimate station to the falls, if you want to go on the trail (Which I recommend). If you don’t wan’t or you can’t, get off on the last station. Make sure to get there early, even though one of the best views is in the afternoon, but you wouldn’t want the guards hurrying you up. So if you do want to take pictures in the afternoon, stay there until afternoon.
There is a very easy trail to the falls that you might do, which is the most interesting way, in which you get the views from the falls on the Argentinian side (Even though they hold more waterfalls in their territory, we’ve got the better view).
The last bus to the visitors’ centre leaves at 17:00pm, make sure you don’t lose it, otherwise that would represent a 11km walk to the visitors’ centre and the exit.
IMPORTANT: DON’T FEED THE ANIMALS, that is the reason Quatis and other animals are stealing tourists’ things in the first place.
Iguazu, view from the Devil’s Throat bridge at the Argentinian side of the Iguazu Falls, Parque Nacional Iguazú (Iguazu National Park, Argentina) by Guilherme Rodrigues
8 Visiting the Argentinian side of the falls
The park in Argentina is wider than in Brazil, so make sure to arrive even earlier, even to avoid the traffic jams in the borders if you’re coming from Brazil. By making the pathways, what you will see are the views from above the waterfalls, as if you were in the river. Be sure to arrive early, because the path is very extense and if you want to see everything, be sure to be prepared to walk. Make sure to take the appropriate instructions if you are travelling with disabled people or elderly that can’t walk long distances.
Arriving at the Visitor’s Center you need to take a train (the last leaves the station at 16:00pm and returns at 17:00pm) to the falls. The main attraction of this side is the Devil’s Throat, the biggest in water volume of the Iguazu Falls, so much that it is not even seenable from the Brazilian side.
To go to the falls in the Argentinian side is very easy. You just need to take Ruta 12 road all the way, and then you will be guided by signs. Be aware that on both sides of the falls the speed limits of the roads are quite low, due to the fact that you might face animals crossing them.
Iguazu, a Tucano, one of Brazil’s most famous birds, at Parque das Aves (Bird Park), Brazil.  by Guilherme Rodrigues
9 The Bird Park
The bird park is something you just can’t miss! It’s unlike anything I had ever seen! It’s a kind of a mix between a regular zoo and a safari. There you can find one of the greatest variety of birds from all over the world, specially Brazil’s. Instead of just seeing the animals inside the cages, you actually get inside them. Yes! They’ve built enourmous ecossystems to imitate the animals’ natural habitats and biomes of Brazil that you can enter. You literally walk side to side to them. Don’t worry, they won’t attack you unless you threaten them or give them food.
It is an unforgettable experience.
Iguazu  by Guilherme Rodrigues
10 The Three Borders’ Mark
Those are three obelisks that indicate the borders of the three countries in that area, one built in each nation, and in one side of the rivers. Brazil’s built within the north side of the Iguazu river margin, and the East part of Parana river’s margin. Paraguay’s on the West side of Paraná River and Argentina’s on the South side of Iguazu river and on the East side of Parana river. You won’t actually waste much time there, so it is worth a visit. Also, for those who like history, that is the place where the Paraguay War happened, which was one of the most cruel conflicts of the history of the Americas. fought between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, that desired access to the sea. Paraguay was let to ruins by the Argentinian and specially Brazilian troops, that had no mercy.
Itaipu was the former biggest hydroeletric powerplant the world had. It’s a result of a cooperation between Brazil and Paraguay in order to generate energy for both countries. It is responsible for generating about 90% of the energy used in Paraguay and 10% of the energy used in Brazil. It’s huge and beautiful. The interactive visit also shows how the Falls were created, by the geological processes applied. It’s a great visit, specially for children
  • Lyn
    Posted at 23:44h, 11 dicembre Rispondi

    Thanks for sharing your tips for visiting Iguazu Falls! I have wanted to visit this place for a while, but have not made it their yet. I’ll have to try to reference these tips before going!

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