A Quick Travel Guide to Brazil's Iguazu Falls | Lady & her Sweet Escapes

Nov 18, 2019

A Quick Travel Guide to Brazil's Iguazu Falls

Right after a lazy travel day in Sao Paulo, Ed and I bid goodbye to the concrete jungle and made our way to a real one. The Iguazu Waterfalls was not in our travel wishlist, but we couldn't afford to miss this UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature while we're in Brazil.

Iguazu Falls is tucked in a lush rainforest between Brazil and Argentina. It is the largest waterfall system in the world, spanning over a distance of 2,700 meters and composed of over 270 mighty water cascades.

Well, enough of the Wiki facts. What I'm trying to say is, Iguazu Falls is so incredible that it turned out to be the highlight of our Brazil trip!

Here is a quick guide to visiting the Brazilian side of Iguazu Waterfalls... 

Iguazu Falls Travel Guide

How to get to Foz do Iguacu
The easiest and the most convenient way is to reach Iguazu Falls is by plane. We took a 1h 40m LATAM flight from Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) in Sao Paulo to Foz do Iguacu (IGU) Airport.

When searching for flights, always remember the airport code of the Brazilian side and do not confuse it with (IGR) Cataratas del Iguazu Airport which is located on the Argentina side. This is really important for us Philippine passport holders as we need a visa to travel to Argentina, whereas we can enter Brazil visa-free!

For those who have enough time to spare, a public bus runs from Tiete in Sao Paulo to Ciudad del Este in Foz do Iguacu. The bus ride costs so much lesser, but you have to endure an almost 14h overnight journey.  

Getting around Foz do Iguacu
Public buses and Uber rides make Foz do Iguacu tourist-friendly. Bus Line 120 runs from the airport to the city center. The same line goes to Iguacu National Park from the main terminal. Bus fare is only 4 BRL per person.

Uber is also reasonably priced. A ride from the airport to the city center approximately costs 20 BRL. It is a perfect option for those who are in a hurry or carrying large bags. 

riding Foz do Iguacu public bus
Foz do Iguacu public bus #120

Where to stay in Foz do Iguacu

On a budget
Thinking that we only needed a place to sleep in, we booked a stay in CLH Suites; a budget accommodation in the city center. The small hotel stands in a good spot; 20 km away from Iguazu Falls yet the bus terminal and lots of restaurants are located nearby. The superior double room with a private bathroom was at only 120 BRL per night during our stay. WiFi is free. Basic breakfast costs less than 15 BRL.

A lot of mid-range accommodations are available along Avenida das Cataratas, the main road connecting Iguacu National Park to the airport and the city center. I brushed off the idea of staying in the area as I thought it would be inconvenient for us who are planning to ride the public bus the whole time. Little did I know, there are also several bus stops along the highway! The rates are a little expensive compared to the budget accommodations downtown, but on the bright side, the airport and the waterfalls are closer.

The moment I spotted the lovely Belmond Hotel das Cataratas, I couldn't unsee it! I swooned over its regal pink facade. This 5-star hotel is located inside Iguacu National Park. INSIDE! And that means, when you stay there, the waterfalls will just be in your backyard! I must say, definitely keep this hotel in mind if you're celebrating something special or if you have money to burn and want to treat yourself. 

Belmond Hotel das Cataratas
My dream accommodation in Foz do Iguacu! Only in my dreams! :)

Visiting Iguazu Falls

Things to bring
To have a hassle-free adventure in Iguazu Falls, here are the items to pack:

  • Insect Repellent: You're in the jungle! Better be safe than sorry. 
  • Water and light snacks: A basic survival kit in case there's a long queue at the entrance or when you get hungry in the trail.
  • Waterproof pouch:  Iguazu Falls is a powerful natural spectacle, so expect to get a little wet. We kept our camera in DIY waterproof cover (just a plastic bag with a lens hole in it), and our important stuff in Ziploc bags.

Iguacu National Park Tickets and Timings
Admission tickets can be purchased online or in the Iguacu National Park's Visitors Center. We got ours from the electronic ticket machine near the entrance to avoid the long queue at the ticket booth. During our visit (September 2019), adult admission costs 70 BRL. Credit card and cash payment are accepted.

The park is open every day from 9 AM to 5 PM. Transportation from the national park entrance to the waterfall viewing areas is included in the entrance fee.

We allotted a full afternoon to see Iguazu Falls. We arrived at the gates at 12 noon, queued for about 30 minutes for the shuttle ride to the waterfalls, and explored the national park until closing time.  

Ticket to Iguazu Falls
Ticket to the Brazilian-side of Iguazu Falls
Iguacu National Park Map
Iguacu National Park Map
Iguacu National Park bus
One of the many buses that transport visitors from the park entrance to the waterfalls.

Trilha Das Cataratas / The Trail of the Falls
We alighted the shuttle bus at Trilha Das Cataratas. It is the starting point of the waterfalls trail. Honestly, I was a bit hesitant to go down the bus as I was not ready to go on a trek. I was wearing a dress and my trusty Eva Birkenstock. But seeing children hopping off the bus, I felt pressured. Oopps. I mean, I got inspired. Hahah! 

It was a good decision though. Because if I begged Ed to skip the trail with me, we could have missed this...

Iguacu National Park walking trail
view of the waterfalls at the starting point of the trail
a closer look  at Iguacu Falls
a closer look at the mightly cascade
coati in Iguazu Falls Brazil
And there's always a Coati trying to steal the spotlight! Hahah!
Coatis are diurnal mammals native to South America.
The walking trail to Iguazu Falls
The walking trail to Iguazu Falls

Our Iguazu Falls Trek Experience
We trekked from Trilha Das Cataratas down to the Devil's Throat. The walking trail is built along the Iguazu River, with plenty of lookout points offering gorgeous views of the cascades. The pathway is safe and easy to traverse; doable for kids and even fit for ladies in dresses.

Walking trail at Iguazu Falls
Nature at its finest!
The name "Iguazu" from the indigenous Guarani language means "big water".
a part of Iguazu Falls in Brazil
I remember how I was already tired at this point, but I just couldn't stop.
Lady in Iguazu Falls in Brazil
This view makes it all worth it!

Halfway through the trek, we caught a glimpse of the Argentina flag on the other side. Realizing that we are THAT close to another country gave me goosebumps. It felt surreal! 

Argentina side of Iguazu Falls
Another country on the other side of the river bank! 
Approximately 80 % of Iguazu Falls is located in Argentina, only 20% is in Brazil.

Argentina Flag in Iguazu Falls
Hola, Argentina!

We took a break in a small cafe (more like a sari-sari store in the Philippines) selling drinks and snacks. Then, we continued our journey until the magnificent view of the Devil's Throat completely stunned us! 

We could hear the roaring sound of the gigantic waterfall from afar, but still, we were caught off guard!

Rainbow in Iguazu Falls Brazil
A case of love at first sight! See the rainbow?

vantage point in Iguazu Falls
As they say, the Brazilian side of Iguazu has more vantage points, making it ideal for viewing the waterfalls.
The Argentina side, on the other hand, is for "experiencing" it.
water walkway in Iguazu Falls Brazil side
Another view, this time with the boardwalk!
to the Devils Throat in Iguazu Falls
That's our destination right there... right at the edge!
boardwalk to Devils Throat in Iguazu Falls
Couldn't count how much OMGee's I said during the trek!
That's how impressive Iguazu is!

Garganta del Diablo 
At the end of the walking trail is a bridge extending to Garganta del Diablo or the Devil's Throat. The U-shape giant cliff has a spooky name, but the powerful cascade, with all the beautiful rainbows emerging from it, is a real heaven on earth. 

I bet you couldn't help but cry happy tears when you see this wonderful creation up-close! 

Ed and Lady in Brazil Iguazu Falls
The beautiful reality in Iguazu Falls.
It was filled with people who were just as awed as us!
Rainbow in Iguazu Falls
Rainbows soothe the petrifying yet pleasant roar of Iguazu.
Devil's Throat in Iguazu Falls
This is the view at the edge of the boardwalk.
And that, right there, is the Devil's Throat! 

Ed and Lady in Garganta del Diablo
260 ft high, the Garganta del Diablo is the most impressive part of Iguazu Falls.
We had to squeeze in the crowd to get this photo. :)
Ed and Lady in Brazil Iguazu Falls
Staying at the boardwalk a little longer gave us this once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity to take a photo without other people in the background! No person was photoshopped in this picture. :)

Espaco Naipi
To see the waterfalls from a different perspective, we went up to Espaco Naipi. It is a lookout connected to the walking trail and the boardwalk. The three-level viewing spot offers a glorious aerial view of cascades and brings us closer to Salto Santa Maria waterfalls. 

View from the first level of Espaco Naipi
View from the first level of Espaco Naipi
boardwalk to Iguazu Falls
The man-made boardwalk to the edge of the waterfalls is just as stunning!
a spectacular view of Salto Santa Maria falls from Espaco Naipi
a spectacular view of Salto Santa Maria falls from Espaco Naipi
People braving the mist of Iguazu Falls.
People braving the mist of Iguazu Falls.
Visiting during the rainy season will be much more challenging due to the high water level and stronger water flow!
Salto Santa Maria falls
We visited in September, an off-peak season. Temperature is moderate and visitors are lesser.
But as they say, there's no bad time to visit Iguazu Falls.
Iguazu Falls is hands down the most incredible natural wonder we have seen so far!

Other things to do in Foz do Iguacu
We only spent 24 hours in Iguazu, hence we mainly focused on seeing the waterfalls by foot in Iguacu National Park. For those who are planning to spend more time in Foz do Iguacu, here are some activities to consider:

  • Go on a Macuco Safari: A jeep adventure in the jungle followed by a boat ride to the falls
  • Visit Parque das Aves: A bird park with more than 500 birds of 165 different species
  • Take a Helicopter Ride: A one-of-a-kind adventure that showcases the magnificence of Iguazu Falls from above.   

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