Discovering Foz do Iguaçu – Paraná (Brasil)
Foz do Iguaçu was a destination that we chose back in 2015, before Discovering Destinations was even in the picture.
During recent travels, numerous people showed interest in wanting to visit Foz. This is when we thought to write about Discovering Foz de Iguassu. According to Wikipedia, the site consists of approximately 257 individual falls over 2.7 km. It was also chosen as one of the “New Natural Seven Wonders of the Word”.
Where to stay?
Foz do Iguaçu offers many Hotel options that are easily found in Booking.com and other hotel websites. One of the most difficult things to do when travelling is finding the right accomodations, especially if you don’t know the city. We needed to decide if we would stay near the city or near the Falls. Something to consider in the equation is travel time, budget and location. If you are far from the city then you spend the majority of your time and money in taxis but if you are closer to the center then you will pay a premium for the location.
At the time we had a great exchange rate, so we booked a room in a resort called “Recanto Cataratas”. We loved our experience and the hotel was fabulous, in hindsight a simplistic and basic hotel would have also done the trick since we barely enjoyed the amenities.
The hotel had amazing pools with natural water called “thermas”. The breakfast buffet was more than enough to load up for the day. Overall, the resort was spectacular, offering lots of activities, restaurant and bars around the pool.
The location was average since it was good cab ride to the city and the fall. Consequently, we spent a good portion of money riding in taxis. On the bright side, the hotel is tourist friendly, and offered touristic packages within. Since it's so touristy, we were advised to compare prices, just to make sure no one was taking advantage of us.
We really recommend this hotel to anyone for those wanting to spend a little more time in Foz do Iguaçu.
Where to eat?
The Recanto Cataratas had a great breakfast option which was included in our package. They also had lunch and dinner options, which we found to be expensive. During our short stay, we managed to eat out.
We purchased 2 dinner packages from the tourist office. One was a local (very touristic) Brazilian Barbecue with a night show. We considered the food quality and buffet average at best. Nevertheless, it was a nice night out with some newfound friends.
We really enjoyed and highly recommend the other dinner package. If you like steak and like to add another stamp on your passport, then head over to Argentina! They have the equivalent of the ‘Fred Flintstone’ steak, which is enough for two to share. Then for desert you can try the “Dulce de Leche” ice cream (which is close to caramel. The name of the restaurant was “El Quincho del Tío Querido”. As a result, it was a nice ambience with local music, really good company, service and food.
Main touristic points
Iguaçu Falls is all about nature. If you love outdoor adventures, then you will find it impossible to resist the limitless natural beauty and the ecological appeal of this magnificent region. Be sure to book sufficient time when visiting Foz, that means both Brazilian and Argentinian sides. We’ll explain why.
Brazilian Side of Iguaçu Falls:
The Brazilian side of the falls offers a great structure where you easily find maps of park attractions. Transportation is excellent with shuttle buses to get you around. There are restaurants in case you didn’t bring a lunch. There are also amazing viewpoints including elevators and wooden walkways.
- We love adventures, so decided to take a boat tour on the Brazilian side. The park is very well structured and the staff are most friendly. They advised us at which point we should exit the shuttle in order to take another ‘all terrain train’ to go further into the woods. On this train, our guide spoke three languages, English, Spanish and Portuguese. As we drove through the woods, our guide explained important points about the forest, the species of animals and unique local trees. At one point, we exited the vehicle to follow a boardwalk and received more information about the park. The guide took us for a more in depth look of the grounds, we saw natural springs, colorful butterflies and various bird species.
- At the end of the trail is the dock. This is where the boat tour starts. The ride is quite agitated, so we recommend it for those who like adventures. The driver asked for everyone to hold on as he carved his way closer to the waterfalls. It was really impressive how close we got. We felt like the boat would tip over a couple of times, but thought it was all part of the show
- From this point, you can take the bus back to the main road or continue by foot through the wooden walkway which leads to the main waterfall called ‘Devil’s mouth’. We opted to walk along the boardwalk and we didn’t regret nature’s spectacle. Don’t do the same mistake as us. We underestimated the size of the park as many told us it could be done in half a day. This said, if you love the idea of walking with spectacular views of endless waterfalls then book an entire day to see the Brazilian side. Otherwise a half day tour can be combined with the bird park ‘parque das aves’ explained a little lower.
Argentinian Side of Iguaçu Falls:
The Brazilian side has a great structure and offers amazing views of the falls. One would think it’s enough, but consider visiting both. The Brazilian side will offer great views but the Argentinian side will offer you interaction.
- Things to consider on the Argentinian side, a boat ride taking you inches away from the biggest waterfalls, a train ride acting as a shuttle between main points and views from above the waterfalls. The most impressive point is ‘Devil’s Mouth’, measuring an impressive 90 meters in height. The amount of water plunging into the crater creates a cloud of mist that can be seen kilometers away. On a sunny day, the mist creates spectacular “Rainbows”.
- The park is quite large, as a result we spent an entire day out. Our guide picked us up from the hotel, drove us to the park and guided us through in the most efficient way possible.
Parque das Aves:
“Parque das Aves” translated in English is bird park. Located in Foz do Iguaçu – Paraná (Brazilian side – next to the Iguaçu Falls national park).
- It’s a private owned zoo that has beautiful species of tropical birds as well as other local animals and butterflies. We are not big on visiting zoos but the “Parque das Aves” is a little different. They protect animals in extinction and prevent them from bring captured and sold in the black markets.
- The park offers a great structure for the visitors and for the birds. The interior visiting area is quite large and it’s easy to forget the fences. This way the animals are right at home and well protected. You can get quite close to many species, including Toucans.
- The park was well structured! An estimated 2-3 hours should be sufficient to visit the park.
Foz de Iguaçu is very touristy. That said, any hotel or tourist agency will offer you many ways to spend your evening. We opted for a dinner night out in Argentina. The “IceBar Iguazu” seems to be a popular destination. We were escaping our Canadian winter and had weren't interested in the IceBar.
- The driver offered to visit a wine house as an alternative. So we went along with a couple from Rio de Janeiro. While the others were freezing inside the ice bar, we were drinking wine. Caminos vinoteca had great selection wine. We ended up leaving with 6 bottles of Argentinian wine.
- After the Ice bar and wine sampling, we visited the small city of Puerto Iguazú. It’s safe to visit and a great night outing. When in Argentina, be sure to try the famous “Alfajores”. It’s best described as a soft and sweet wafer.
We spent two and a half days of non-stop sightseeing in Iguaçu Falls. Knowing what we know now, we would plan for a calmer 3-4 days. That said, there enough to sightsee for a week. Our trip was short, but when we return we will consider visiting,
- Tour at Paraguay and find out good shopping deals
- “Itaipu Hydroelectric Dam”
- Tour to get peaceful at “Buddhist Temple”
- Visit Ecomuseu of Itaipu
- There is also a “Helicopter tour” to get an amazing overview from Iguaçu Falls
If you are Brazilian, you will just need your Brazilian ID (up to date) to cross the border to Argentina. However, if you are not Brazilian it’s best to check with tourist offices or hotel staff. Your passport may not be sufficient to visit Argentina.
Canadians need to pay a “Reciprocity Fee”. Argentinians need to pay a fee when visiting Canada, therefor Argentina demands a similar fee. We were able to purchase this ‘visa’ from the computer in the hotel. There were two options, a short term and a 10-year visa. The difference in price was negligible so we took the 10-year option. Click here for more info.
Cash or Credit Card: Most of the places in Brazil accept major Credit Card. You may want to bring small cash denominations for snacks or souvenirs. Ask to change your money to Reais (pronounced Héais). The same goes for Argentina, which use the Argentinian pesos.
How to get there
Generally, we travel from São Paulo – Guarulhos airport. You will find out that most of main big cities from Brazil, specially São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro offers packages tours and direct flights to Foz do Iguaçu with multiple airlines. You could use one of the local tourist agencies or websites specialized in tourism to get there.
We used “Submarino Viagens” to get our cheaper flight and Booking.com to book our hotel.
Best time of the year to visit Iguaçu Falls
The main attraction of Foz do Iguaçu is the waterfall and most of the things to do are outdoors. Since we can’t control the weather, it’s best to plan during great weather. Then again, it’s not much different from any other vacation.
We visited the Iguaçu Falls in March and got two days of warm and sunny weather. It's summer in Brazil and in our opinion the best time to visit due to various elements. We also got to see the waterfall with an average volume of water. We would recommend March or beginning of April, since the weather is still nice, there is less chance of rain and great deals in hotels and flights.
If you want less humidity and cooler temperatures, you can choose the winter months (June to August). However, you should consider these months may represent lower volume of water.
During January and February, Brazilians have their summer vacation which means above average prices for hotels and flights. Not to mention, it can be excessively warm with more chances of rain.
Let us know if we forgot anything or if you need extra pointers !
Enjoy Foz !