South America Tips and Advice

How to do Iguassu Falls in 1 Day

Iguassu, Iguazu and Iguaçu Falls, there are indeed 3 different ways to spell the name of these magnificent falls. Each respective of their own country; America, Argentina, and  Brazil.

First off, a bit about the falls at written by my lovely sister Stephanie , whom I have just convinced to start her own blog. Check it out at www.exploringthearth.com.

Iguazu waterfalls are a spectacular natural cascade set in the heart of a sub-tropical rainforest. With over 275 individual falls that make up both the Argentina and Brazil side of the falls, Iguazu is both wider and taller than the famous Niagara and Victoria falls, respectively. These impressive traits resulted in Iguazu being named one of the new 7 wonders of the world.

The initiation of these falls is believed to be ~20,000 years ago, whereas the basalt rock landscape that shaped and made way for the falls was created some 135 million years prior! This unique basalt and sandstone landscape, accompanied with various tectonic cracks and faults, allowed Iguazu to form, which was actually 28km downstream from its current location. These falls are still active in carving the land and will continue to retreat further and further back as time goes on.

Brazil Side

Iguazu Falls - Brazil

Iguazu Falls - Brazil

Iguazu Falls - Brazil

As stated above, the falls consists of two different sides that you can access from the town of Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil or Puerto Iguazú in Argentina. The border crossing to get between the two towns is the quickest, easiest border you will ever cross. However, Americans and Canadians be aware of costly VISA fees. I have a EU/ Slovakian passport so I didn’t have to worry about those.

Iguazu Falls - Brazil

The Brazilian side takes about 2 hours to complete and within those two hours you’ve seen pretty much everything.

Argentine Side

The Argentine side takes minimum 2 hours to see the best part: Garganta del Diablo the Devil’s Throat. And all day if you wish to view anymore than that.

Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat), Iguazu Falls - Argentina

Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat), Iguazu Falls - Argentina

Garganta del Diablo (Devil's Throat), Iguazu Falls - Argentina

Pretty much every guide book about the falls will tell you that you need one day to do each side. And if you only have one day, that you need to choose between the two sides. WELL, sanity seemed to escape our brains since we decided that the guide books were wrong and that both sides could be accomplished in one day. No, not one day, 3/4 of a day, since we had to be at the airport by 6:30pm and had to catch the bus back to our hostel to grab our bags before then.

To our amazement we did indeed accomplished this task; but I have never ran to catch so many buses and trains before in my life. Let me break it down for you:

  • 8:30 leave on the bus to Brazilian park entrance
  • 9:00 Brazilian park gates open
  • 9:50 arrive at entrance to Brazilian side
  • 10:00 hop on park bus to the falls
  • 10:00-11:40 walked the trails and took photos of the falls
  • 11:50 hop on park bus back from the falls
  • 12:15 grab local bus at Brazilian entrance to connecting bus stop #1
  • 1:00 cross the Argentine border
  • 1:20 grab connecting bus #2 at Puerto Iguazú to Argentine side of falls
  • 1:40 arrive at Argentina park entrance
  • 1:50 grab food
  • 2:20 walk to train
  • 2:35 miss train by 5 minutes
  • 3:00 catch train
  • 3:28 arrive at Devil’s Throat station
  • 3:30-3:40 mad sprint 1km to Devil’s Throat
  • 3:40-3:50 photos
  • 3:50-3:58 mad sprint back to train
  • 4:00 catch train
  • 4:30 mad sprint to bus
  • 4:37 catch bus back to Brazil border
  • 6:10 make it to hostel (Iguassu Guest House) via HostelBookers
  • 6:30 arrive at airport
  • 7:45 depart Foz do Iguaçu

I remembered all these times since I was constantly looking at my watch making sure we didn’t miss anything.

So as you can see this task can be done, but I highly recommend not doing what we did, it’s nuts. As for what side was our favorite? I can’t choose, photography wise the Brazilian side is better, but to get a sense of how powerful the falls are, Argentine is the place to be. Regardless I would be pretty bummed out if I missed either side.

Iguazu Falls - Brazil

Big thank you to HostelBookers for setting us up with some sweet accommodations.

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5 Comments

  • Reply
    Joe
    July 23, 2014 at 9:04 am

    Would you have advice on how to do a similar trip starting in Argentina and ending in Brazil? I’ve read there are luggage lockers at the entrances. Did you notice that? Our flight would depart from the Brazil side at 7:30 pm. This would be a last minute addition to a Buenos Aires and Rio trip, so I’d love any help. Thank you, thank you!

  • Reply
    15 Places to Go in 2015Hey Nadine
    January 18, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    […] more to offer than just Rio de Janerio, (although the beaches are quite nice). Think the stunning Iguassu Falls, the Amazon, the music and colours of Salvador, gosh I could go on and on. And foodies, don’t […]

  • Reply
    Gunhild
    November 3, 2015 at 9:07 am

    Hi! How did you manage to do both “days” in one day? Did you just find a bus scheduale or did you have to make arrangements? I æm going there in December and onlyd have one full day.. :)

    • Reply
      Joe G
      November 4, 2015 at 7:13 pm

      We saw the Brazil side – which was amazing – and I’m not sure if the Argentina side could be better.

      We made the time work for us. We flew into Cataratas del Iguazú International Airport (Argentina) early in the morning and took a cab outside the airport all the way to the Brazil entrance. You have to stop at the border and fill out the paper work. Make sure to have already acquired your visa. I am not sure if we were lucky the day we went, but it was not busy and the process was very quick. The cab driver actually walked us through the process.

      Once across the border (with cool view of Paraguay as well) we were driven right to the front entrance of Parque Nacional do Iguaçu. From there we brought our 2 suitcases and rented a large locker with plenty of room to spare. The separate area was a bit to the to the side of where you pay admission. Close to the complex the bus that transports you to the stops along the falls. You cannot walk the distance. From what I remember they run relatively frequently in both directions. Of course give yourself time to double back.

      I highly recommend paying for the Macuco Safári which you do in the main complex. The ride is awesome and the view on the water is great. I think the whole thing with waiting and the ride was around 2 hours. Find time for it if you can. Of course the main attraction is the Falls themselves which are further down the bus path and that is the priority.

      We left the park around 5pm and had plenty of time to sit around in the Aeroporto Internacional de Foz do Iguaçu before our flight departing at 7;30pm ish (the airport is very, very close).

      Basically it seems the airports were built very close to the Falls – even though the Argentina side road seems to wander a bit – so there aren’t great distances to cover and if you plan the taxis correctly with your itinerary at the Park and time of flights, you can make traveling between two countries and visiting the Falls work in one long day.

  • Reply
    50 shades of water – Foz do Iguaçu and Bonito | Bad Travel Blog
    November 13, 2015 at 8:59 am

    […] However, it’s not recommendable at all to do both in one day (as confirmed by people who did it: http://www.heynadine.com/how-to-do-iguassu-falls-in-1-day/), so I decided to be a reasonable tourist and take two days for my […]

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