Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Puerto Iguazu

Puerto Iguazu is probably the number one tourist destination in Argentina because of the incredible Iguazu waterfalls nearby. The Iguazu Falls are not the biggest or highest in the world but they are some of the most spectacular. In South America only the Angel Falls in Venezuela can rival the Iguazu Falls. And the added reason why they are so popular: they are accessible from Buenos Aires by many luxury over-night buses.

The Iguazu Falls are in a National Park in the North East of Argentina on the border with Brazil. Indeed you can cross over to Brazil to see the Falls - in Brazil they are called Foz do Iguacu. Beware many nationalities need to pay for a Brazilian visa which is not cheap. Nearby also is the border with the lesser visited South American country, Paraguay. The entry point for Paraguay is Ciudad del Este. The city of Ciudad del Este is nothing but a duty free shop but nearby is the Itaipu Dam (the second biggest in the world).

Iguazu Falls

The Iguazu Falls cost $16 for foreigners to enter and a lot less for Argentine nationals. There are a number of walk ways and jungle paths to explore. The walk ways take you very close to several water falls. The most spectacular viewing point is called the Garganta del Diablo - the Throat of the Devil. For some reason Argentines see the devil everywhere in nature. There are also a number of boat journeys you can take including one very wet one that goes very close to the main falls. This boat journey is exhilerating but over-priced for the few minutes it takes.

As you walk around the park there are a number of birds and mammals you can stop if you look carefully enough. My wife and I saw a monkey, a coati begging food in the restaurant and several big colorful butterflies.


It takes all day to do Iguazu National Park properly. It is in the jungle and very hot so bring sun block, water and insect repellent. There are buses leaving every hour from Puerto Iguazu bus terminal to Iguazu National Park that cost about $1.50.

Accommodation in Puerto Iguazu is based in two areas. The first is near the bus terminal in the town center and the other is on the road to Iguazu Falls. Generally the later accommodation has more space and bigger pools but staying on the road to The Falls means you have little option but to spend all your money in the hotel or resort.  Hostel Puerto Iguazu is in this area. It charges $10.55 for a dorm bed (not great value). 

In the center of Puerto Iguazu there are numerous hostels and hotels to choose from. Many have guest use kitchens, swimming pools, organized tours, ticket booking desks.  Several of the hostels are most definitely 'party hostels' which means loud music and alcohol fuelled noise until the wee hours every night. Whatever hostel you choose it is not likely to be cheap by Argentine standards. It is very easy to just turn up and get a place to stay. If you are the sort of person who books in advance then scrutinize the reviews carefully. Many places have glowing reviews in poor English and bad reviews in good English!

Better value are the two camp sites in Puerto Iguazu: one is Costa Ramon Camping (they will pick you up from the tourist information in town) and the other is Camping El Pindo.

There are a number of expensive bars and restaurants in the town center and one very handy supermarket that has a deli counter with freshly made food. You can eat in the supermarket at the back. If it wasn't for the water falls I would never go to Puerto Iguazu as it as classic example  of how tourism ruins traditional culture and values.