Our excursion to Foz do Iguacu was actually a bit of a joint mistake between us and our tour company, Cuenca del Plata. We had pre-booked a tour of the Argentine-side of Iguazu Falls for our first day-trip and were waiting outside our hotel at 8:15 AM as indicated on our ticket from Cuenca. One of their big tour busses pulled up, but the door did not open and the staff remained inside talking among themselves. Very soon afterward, the smaller bus you see here pulled in and the driver came over to us and said something in Spanish that we did not understand. I handed him our ticket which said 'Argentine-side tour' for this date. He seemed happy enough and waved us into the van.
I began to think that things were going funny when we immediately crossed over into Brazil, but we at least turned for the Brazil-side of Iguasu Falls after clearing Immigration. However, it was only a short drive to pick up some more Spanish-speaking passengers before we then turned to head toward Foz and onward to Itaipu Dam! Oh well, we were along for the ride now! It was only near noon while we were waiting in downtown Foz that the driver gestured to see my ticket again and realized what was going on.
Arrangements were made to finally get us to the Argentine-side of Iguazu by 2 PM in the afternoon. It is a good thing my motto is 'Don't Sweat the Small Stuff'. The morning had been interesting in it's own way! Overall, Cuenca del Plata did a great job, except for this little mix-up.
- Family Travel
The Border Crossing
To get back and forth between Puerto Iguazu and Foz do Iguacu you do not have to travel far. The photo shows one of our crossings over the Rio Iguazu on the modern Tancredo Neves International Bridge.
As far as the tours were concerned, once the bus driver picked us up from our hotel, they wanted passports and then wrote various details of all the passengers on a sheet of paper. On arrival at the Brazil border post near the bridge, the driver would head off into the building with his piece of paper and the passports. A short time later, he would return with our documents and away we went, never having actually shown our faces to the Brazilian authorities.
Check for Visa requirements though. Brazil has a tit-for-tat policy of requiring them if your country requires them to get one. In my case, due to a little spat between Canada and Brazil over aircraft manufacturing subsidies, before leaving on our trip I had to get my first visa (US$80) since going to Egypt in 1974.
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Cataratas International Airport (IGU)
Foz do Iguaçu and Iguaçu Falls are popular year round tourist destination on the three border.
The Airport is one of the best equipped in the country. Its runway, equipped with radar-based approach control for day and night flights, is capable of landing any kind of aircraft, such as B-747, DC-10 or A-330.
It also serves nearby cities including Ciudad del Este, Paraguay.
Currently you can only fly directly to Foz do Iguaçu from within Brazil. There are 16 daily flights from/to Brazilian cities such as Curitiba, Rio de Janeiro, Recife, São Paulo, Salvador etc.; four by Varig, two by Vasp, two by Tam and one by Ocean Air among others. A normal priced return is around US$600.
Aerial distances: Rio de Janeiro 685 miles; only a 2 hour flight, Brasília 740 miles, Curitiba 288 miles, Porto Alegre 346 miles, Sao Paulo 492 miles.
Distance from downtown of Foz do Iguaçu about 12 kms on highway BR 469, driving time 20 minutes. The Taxis in the airport bring the visitors to wherever they want to go.
The airport is not to be confused with Cataratas del Iguazú International Airport, which is located beyond the border in Puerto Iguazú/Argentina!!!!
- National/State Park
During my trip I often thought to myself that most Americans (by that, I'm referring to people from the US) seem to have enough money but never enough time and that in South America most of the time the opposite is often true. So, while taking the bus is certainly a better option, since my time was limited here I often settled for a cab.
The Terminal Urbana is the main bus station and it's located on Avenida Juscelino Kubitschek (on the Rio Parana side of town). From here you can catch buses to Itaipu, the airport, Puerto Iguazu, Ciudad del Este and, of course, the waterfalls. The buses for the falls are marked Cataratas and run every 20 minutes. You'll pay less than a buck.
Aeroporto Internacional Foz do Iguacu
The airport is located about 20 minutes outside of downtown Foz do Iguacu. It's a small one runway operation but it has a cafe, a souvenir shop, tourist information and good transportation connections. A cab will cost you between 25 and 40 reais depending on exactly where your hotel is in downtown. The public bus will be less than a buck, but will take closer to 40 minutes and will drop you off at the downtown bus terminal.
For around $60 US, you can get one of the best views of the waterfalls by flying over them in a modern, quiet helicopter. These helicopters have been somewhat controversial over the years. In fact, UNESCO at one time threatened to remove their World Heritage Site designation from the national park because of them. It seems the noise from the helicopters is disruptive to the natural environment, but recently the company that operates the flights, Helisul has upgraded their fleet to much quieter machines.
Small train to falls.
You get on one of this trains to reach the falls unless you like to take a long walk through the jungle,it is run very effectively and takes about 15 minutes to reach very close to falls,from the train I seen few people walking they did not look tired maybe next time I will take a walk too because no smoking is allowed on the train...
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All around town particularly near the hotels, you'll see taxi stands ( pontos ). You can get anywhere within downtown for less than 5 reais, but for longer trips be sure you have an idea about how much it should cost, because like taxi drivers all over the world, not all of them are honest.
Bus to the National Park
The least expensive way to get to the Parque and to visit the Falls is by public bus. The bus leaves from the municipal bus station in Foz de Iguacu and goes up Av. Catarates where many of the luxury hotels are located. We picked up the bus across the street from our resort, the Mabu Foz, and the cost was R$1.85 (90 cents) each. The bus ride was about 25 -30 minutes, this is the same route that goes to the airport. Buses run every 20 minutes.
You board the bus and pay the woman seated about 1/3 of the way down the bus, she can make change, we even saw her take US cash but it's always best to have exact change. After paying go through the turnstile.
To pick the bus back up to get back into town, we just waited under the shelter where they dropped us off, the bus dropping passengers off will come by, wait until the bus turns around to get on.
The Park Bus
This park is small enough to be covered in a morning .The bus that takes you around the park is quite efficient making the whole experience run quite smoothlyneven when the crowds are large. They are free and stop at all the different points along the way.
- Women's Travel
- National/State Park
Buses can be tourist attractions too!
Perfect mode of transportation for in or around Foz. Comfortable(exept during rush hour) cheap and culturally interesting.
I used buses to go to the falls, the monument of the tres fronteras and the Itaipu dam. I have not been sorry even for a second.
- Budget Travel
Arriving by plane
We had an arranged transfer from the airport to our hotel included in our Go Today package but I noticed that the same bus that takes you to the National Park also serve the airport. Look for the "Parque Nacional" stop at the airport and make sure that you are headed to town instead of to the National Park as the bus stops there both coming and going. The fare was R$1.85 one way.
According to Lonely Planet you can fly in on one of 3 airlines, Varig, TAM or VASP, we came in on Varig and it was an uneventful flight.
Bus to Argentina's National Park
We took a taxi arranged by our hotel to get to the Argentine National Park, there is also the option to take the public bus. According to the guidebook, you take a Linha Internacional (Puerto Iguazu) bus to the terminal in Puerto Iguazu and then catch a yellow El Practico bus labeled Cataras to get to the Park. If you are not staying in Foz do Iguacu, you might check with your hotel whether or not the buses run along Av. Cataras, I suspect that you have to get into town in order to use this bus if you are staying at one of the resorts along Av. Cataras.
The fixed-flexible taxi fare
You do not need any reservations for a hotel room because the taxi driver is going to show you around Foz for the same original price of 34Reals (less than USD15).
I went to 3-4 different hotels before settling down. The explanation for this state of affairs is the fact that hotels pay commission to taxi drivers (nicely explained to you by the tourist official at the airport). Moreover, mister "fix it" offers to you an option of visiting "all" sights worth seeing the very next day. There is a chance that you, impressed by his skills might hire him again. I personally would not recommend it - just too expensive compared to the local transportation system, but one has the choice.
Originally, the plan was to use buses to conquer the significant distance between Rio de Janeiro and Foz de Iguaçu but the reality massacred it. First, when I tried to go the "Brazilian" way with a "leito" bus, meaning sleeper class, it was impossible to board it from Rio; just from Sao Paulo. This meant a change of buses in Sao Paulo many hours of travel and as I was prompted by a benevolent concierge, significant danger to the stomach. The food bought along the route would be of questionable quality.
Second, the price of the bus ticket combined with the food expenditures would amount to exactly half the price of the airplane ticket. Considering that the plane crosses the same distance ten times faster, it was a huge bargain. Varig is fabulous - one can book and buy a ticket the day before departure for a price not affected by the proximity of purchase and flight.
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