Iguazu Falls Itinerary

A Day in Argentina: Iguazu Falls

When we booked our trip to Iguazu Falls, we knew that we wanted to see it from all angles: flying over it, boating through it, and scoping it out from the Brazilian and Argentinian sides. Our final full day at the falls brought sunshine which was a nice change from the cloudy, cool days that we experienced otherwise. Even with cloud coverage it was still beautiful, but you don’t get the same impact from the rainbows and sun shining on the water.

When we landed in Brazil, we were warned about Argentina’s reciprocity fee for American passport holders (Australians and some others fall under this umbrella, too). We had expected the Brazilian fee ($160) and visa process, but we weren’t totally prepared for the Argentinian imposed fee, too. I like to think we’re pretty good planners so we both felt a bit ill-prepared having not done that level of research. Luckily, to enter Argentina you don’t need a visa, you just need to pay the reciprocity fee before hitting the border and must print out the relevant documents that act as proof of payment. The fee is $160 per person (ouch) but is good for a 10 year period. We knew that we’d want to go back to Argentina in the future to scope out Buenos Aires + wine country so that helped us in justifying the cost.

Iguazu Falls, ArgentinaUpper Trail, Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Crossing the Border

So, if you’re reading this and actually planning a visit to Iguazu Falls, your first question likely is: how do I get from the Brazilian side to the Argentinian side? How much does it cost? How easy is it?

If you’re staying at Hotel das Cataratas on the Brazilian side, they can assist in arranging a taxi. If you use their vehicle, you’re in R$400 roundtrip for the ride. If you have them coordinate an independent taxi (they use English-speaking drivers), it’ll be R$250 roundtrip which is roughly $80. The drive takes about 40 minutes include the border crossing which is a breeze.

You’ll need your passport, your reciprocity payment documents (if required based on your passport) and Argentinian pesos. We had to stop at a change place en route (ask your driver, they’ll happily take you to a spot to swap out some money) to change out $100 which provided us with ample funds to enter the park. We actually ended up with over 350 pesos left over at the end so we stopped to buy two bottles of Malbec with the leftover cash!

There are two elements to the border crossing: exiting Brazil and entering Argentina. When you exit Brazil, you’ll walk into a building where they’ll just stamp your passport and let you through. On the Argentine side, you’ll pull up to a kiosk, roll down your window, pass your documents to the officer. They’ll take a quick peek, stamp your passport and annotate it with info about your docs and let you through. We didn’t meet any lines or traffic during this process so it took around 10 minutes to deal with all of the formalities. The driver will drop you off at the gate to the national park, where you’ll pay your 260 peso per person entrance fee. If you’re crossing the border and using the same driver to return to Brazil, you can dictate a time for them to meet you at the gate for pick up. Allotting about four hours for the Argentine experience is safe.

Iguazu Falls, Argentina {Iguazu National Park}

The Argentinian side of the falls is strikingly different from that of the Brazilian side. The park system on this side is much more vast, with a few walking circuits and a tram. You’ll be able to scope out the Upper Falls, the Lower Falls, Devil’s Throat, and St. Martin’s Island if weather permits (it was closed when we were there). For anyone with mobility issues, we did notice many handicap accessible routes as well which were clearly marked. There is also a museum right when you enter the gate that helps add a layer of information about the flora and fauna you’ll encounter on the trails. It’s decently done, and would be an especially good stop with kids in tow to make the experience extra educational.

The Upper Trail

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Right off the bat, we headed for the Upper Trail. Grab a map and don’t be afraid to ask the guides in the park to point you in the right direction if you’re confused about where to go! The trail to the Upper Falls was simple enough; no hills and not a lot of stairs. The path consisted mostly of flat surfaces and steel brides to help us cross over the water. Going in, I was most excited about this perspective. I mean, wouldn’t you think the Upper Trail would be better than the Lower Trail? From the Argentine side, especially with the Upper Trail, you’ll see the falls from above and will be able to watch the water literally fall over the edge of the rugged terrain and pool in areas below.

There were two primary viewing points that provided absolutely stunning visuals. Especially on a sunny day, the rainbows over the falls are so insanely beautiful. It feels like a total postcard.

Iguazu Falls, ArgentinaIguazu Falls, Argentina

In the image below you can see the falls actually making their way over the land’s edge. It’s a cool perspective, but as we’d soon discover, the Lower Trail actually provided some prettier vantage points.

Iguazu Falls, ArgentinaIguazu Falls, Argentina

The Lower Trail

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

I’ll tell you right now that I would have never thought that the Lower Trail would be my favorite. I’d heard about the amazing view from Devil’s Throat, and the Upper Falls just sounded much more powerful and awe-inspiring than the Lower Trail but that wasn’t the case at all.

My favorite view of the falls on the Argentine side could have been the one shown below in a photo and panoramic shot. It’s the overall panorama here that is so stunning and so otherworldly that you just have to pause and soak it all up.

The rainbow. The falls. The island. It all comes together to create one of the most beautiful natural spaces possible.

Lower Trail, Iguazu Falls, ArgentinaLower Trail, Iguazu Falls, ArgentinaLower Trail, Iguazu Falls, ArgentinaLower Trail, Iguazu Falls, Argentina

The path takes you to a final point where you can get up close and personal with the falls from this side. There are ponchos available (for sale, I believe) before you hit this final stretch but we didn’t find that we really needed the extra layer of protection. Tuck your electronics away and you’ll be fine! If you’re there on a sunny day, you’ll probably find the cool mist pretty refreshing.

Lower Trail, Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Devil’s Throat

Devil's Throat, Iguazu Falls, ArgentinaDevil's Throat, Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Our final journey was the tram to Devil’s Throat. The tram leaves every thirty minutes from designated points throughout the park and takes you to a walkway to reach the famous viewing platform. For many, this is the long-awaited grand finale. As I mentioned, I found the view from the Lower Falls more beautiful, but the Devil’s Throat viewing platform is pretty mesmerizing in that you get to witness the grand scale of this massive fall. Keep in mind that the tram doesn’t take you to the viewing platform; it takes you to the final trail to the viewing platform which requires another 10 – 20 minute walk depending on your mobility. On the mild day that we visited, this was totally pleasant. In fact, in some ways the required walk helps ensure that not everyone is at the final platform at the same time.

Devil's Throat, Iguazu Falls, ArgentinaDevil's Throat, Iguazu Falls, ArgentinaDevil's Throat, Iguazu Falls, ArgentinaDevil's Throat, Iguazu Falls, ArgentinaDevil's Throat, Iguazu Falls, Argentina

In the brief four hours that we spent on this side following our time exploring the Brazilian side, it was an amazing day. The entire system is truly incredible to see in real life and if you’re able to see it from both sides, it’s definitely worth the time and effort. I’ll be sharing some thoughts on Brazil vs. Argentina for viewing the falls and for accommodations in a forthcoming post. If you’re not wanting to splurge on both a Brazilian visa and an Argentine reciprocity fee, I definitely think you can really enjoy the falls from solely one side, but as each experience offers something different it’s helpful to understand what you can expect so you can wisely choose where to spend your dollars.

Stay tuned for more!

xo from Brazil,

Shannon Kircher, The Wanderlust Effect

More about Shannon Kircher

Shannon Kircher is the founder and editor of The Wanderlust Effect. Founded in 2009, she has continued to document her international escapes as an expat in Europe and the Caribbean. Additionally, Shannon is the founder of Compass & Vine, a luxury boutique travel design firm, and is the Director of Marketing for the Frangipani Beach Resort. Shannon holds an MSc in Social Policy and Development from the London School of Economics and is a current candidate for WSET Level 3 in Wines & Spirits.