Sunday, June 27, 2010

Chronicles of Planning a Trip to South America: Iguazu Falls, Argentina

  • 4 miles (23km), 275 of deafening waterfalls plummeting into a 230-foot (20m) giant gorge declared a World Heritage Area by UNESCO in 1984. 
  • Explore the waterfalls on your own
  • Iguazu Jungle Explorer, the tour operator inside the park offers the following tours:
  1. Nautical Adventure ($16/£8) that visits the falls by inflatable raft
  2. Ecological Tour ($8/£4) that takes you to Devil’s Throat and lets you paddle rubber boats along the Upper Iguazú Delta
  3. Gran Aventura (Great Adventure) tour ($32/£16).
  4. Ecological Tour and Great Adventure by buying a full-day Pasaporte Verde ($38/£19).
Allow at least 1 full day to explore the waterfalls on the Argentine side, another to visit the Brazilian side, and perhaps half a day for a jungle tour.


  • BY PLANE Aerolíneas Argentinas (& 0810/222-86527 or 3757/420-194) and LAN Chile (& 3757/424-296) offer up to five daily flights from Buenos Aires to Aeropuerto Internacional Cataratas (& 3757/422-013); the trip takes 11⁄2 hours. Round-trip fares cost approximately $320 (£160), depending on whether any specials are on offer. Aerolíneas Argentinas occasionally offers flights to Iguazú out of Ezeiza international airport, usually on Saturday or Sunday. Catch a taxi (for about $15/£7.50) or one of the shuttle buses from the airport to town ($3/£1.50), a 20-minute drive.
  • BY BUS The fastest bus service from Buenos Aires is with Vía Bariloche (& 11/4315-4456 in Buenos Aires), which takes 18 hours and costs $50 to $70 (£25–£35) one-way, depending on the seat you choose. (The more expensive fare gets you a fully reclining cama seat.) Less pricey but longer (21 hr.) are Expreso Singer (& 11/4313-3927 in Buenos Aires) and Expreso Tigre Iguazú (&11/4313-3915 in Buenos Aires), which both run for about $44 (£22) one-way.
  • El Práctico local buses run every 45 minutes from 7am to 8pm between Puerto Iguazú and the national park, and cost less than $1 (50p). Parada 10 (& 3757/421-527) provides 24-hour taxi service. You can rent a car at the airport, although this is much more a luxury than a necessity. Within both Puerto Iguazú and the national park, you can easily walk.
  • Your first stop will likely be the visitor center, where you can get maps and information about the area’s flora and fauna. New and environmentally friendly, the visitor center is located 1km (a half-mile) from the park entrance, next to the parking lot and footbridges for the waterfall circuits. Adjacent to the visitor center, you will find a restaurant, snack shops, and souvenir stores. 
  • A natural-gas train takes visitors to the path entrance for the Upper and Lower circuits and to the footbridge leading to the Devil’s Throat (footpaths remain open for walkers, but the walk to Devil’s Throat is about 3km/2 miles). The visitor center is staffed with a number of English-speaking guides, available for individual and private tours, so you may opt to see the falls on your own or with an experienced local guide.
  • There is a $10 (£5) entrance fee for non-Argentines to enter the national park, which includes the train ride. The national park is open daily from 8am to 7pm in summer, and until 6pm in winter.

On the Argentine side, the Sheraton International Iguazú is the only hotel inside the national park; the rest are in Puerto Iguazú, 18km (11 miles) away.

  • Hotel Saint George The Saint George features colorful, slightly dated rooms with single beds. The walls are not super thick, but everything is sparkling clean with well-lit bathrooms with toiletries. There is an inviting pool surrounded by lush vegetation and a commendable international restaurant that serves tasty fish from the local river. The breakfast buffet, however, is not the most memorable and needs improvement. Av. Córdoba 148, 3370 Puerto Iguazú.&3757/420-633. Fax 3757/420-651. 56 units. $75 (£38) double. Rates include buffet breakfast. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; bar; 2 pools (1 for children). In room: A/C, TV, hair dryer, minibar.
  • Hotel Lilian  has immaculate rooms surrounding a central courtyard. The bathrooms are of a decent size and more than adequate, but occasionally there is low water pressure. Fray Luis Beltrán 183, 3370 Puerto Iguazú.&/fax 3757/420-968. 24 units. $40 (£20) double. Rates include breakfast. In room: A/C, TV.
  • Los Helechos Family-run Los Helechos is a great bargain for those seeking comfortable, inexpensive accommodations in Puerto Iguazú. Located in the city center, this intimate hotel offers simple rooms, many of which surround a plant-filled courtyard.  If you dislike humid nights, be sure to splurge for a room with air-conditioning (request it at the time of booking and be ready to cough up an additional $10/£5). Paulino Amarante 76, 3370 Puerto Iguazú.&/fax 3757/420-338. 60 units. $45 (£23) double with A/C or TV; $35 (£18) without A/C and TV. AE, DC, MC, V. Amenities: Restaurant; bar; pool. In room: A/C, TV (in some rooms only).


Dining in Puerto Iguazú is casual and inexpensive, provided you’re looking for a meal outside your hotel. Argentine steaks, seafood, and pasta are common on most menus.

  • The Sheraton, inside the national park, has the area’s best restaurant.
  • El Charo - large and somewhat soulless, it still produces delicious food and is tremendously popular with both tourists and locals. Av. Córdoba 106.&3757/421-529. Main courses $6–$10 (£3–£5). No credit cards. Daily 11am–1am.
  • La Rueda - Nothing more than a small A-frame house with an outdoor patio, La Rueda is a delightful place to eat—served in large portions—is very good. The diverse menu features pasta, steaks, and fish dishes.  Av. Córdoba 28.&3757/422-531. Main courses $6–$10 (£3–£5). No credit cards. Daily noon–4pm and 7pm–1am.

1 comment:

freeze said...

info on the end of the world train to ushuaia

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