Today, we fled Brazil.
Or at least, that’s what it felt like. Mostly because it was all done via public buses, and with minimal immigration checks.
Our hostel quoted us 40 Rs. (about $20 AUD) to transfer us and our luggage to the Argentinean side of the falls…
Yeah well, we did it for a grand total of 4 Rs ($2 AUD). Take that, fools. And we had a bit of an adventure too.
It was surprisingly very easy. First we took a random public bus from outside the central bus station that had a faded “Puerto Iguazu / Argentina” sign in the window, which dropped us off at Brazilian immigration on the border. As the bus wouldn’t wait for us to complete all the immigration procedures, the bus driver handed us a voucher before disembarking so we wouldn’t have to pay the fare again when we caught the next bus.
After getting our Brazil exit stamp, we hung around and twiddled our thumbs outside for a bit before getting picked up by the next bus. This one then dropped us at the Argentinean immigration point on the other side of the bridge. Here they checked we had paid the immigration tax (done online the night before), stamped our passport (Hola Argentina!), and scanned our luggage almost as an afterthought. Boarding the bus again, we then ended up at the Puerto Iguazu bus terminal.
It was actually such a relief to finally be in a Spanish-speaking country. Although my Spanish was (and still is) pretty terrible, I immediately felt more confident in speaking what little I did know, rather than attempting the same-same-but-different language that is Portuguese.
After finding “lockers” for our luggage (a random room at the bus station manned by a woman who left everything unattended every so often), we jumped on a bus bound straight for the falls.
First we walked through a forest path to take the railway train bound for Argentina’s viewpoint of the Devil’s Throat. Here the falls were even more impressive – the water thundered down so loudly around you and threw up so much spray that you could barely see anything, or even hear what other people were saying. The sheer might and power of the falls on this side was so breathtaking. It was like a washing machine on steroids.
Next on our list of priorities was the Paseo Inferior (the Lower Path) where we got to walk above and below some of the smaller waterfalls. Like on the Brazilian side, we had some great panoramic views of the falls in their entirety. But the highlight was being able to get up close and personal to the thunderous Bossetti Fall and get drenched all over again.
So in summary, here are the reasons why we liked the Argentinean side of the Iguazu Falls better than the Brazilian side:
- There were better and more exhilarating opportunities to get right up close to the falls;
- The views of the falls were more dramatic and had much more of an impact;
- You could walk around the park instead of having to wait for a shuttle bus (which you sometimes couldn’t get on because they were already full);
- The boat rides into the falls were cheaper; and
- You still had great panoramic views of the falls anyway.
Unfortunately we didn’t have time to do the Paseo Superior (the Upper Path) that takes you above the falls, as we had to catch our overnight bus to Buenos Aires (17 hours!).
Even so, we were waiting for the bus for ages. We were so sure that it was late and were both being rather condescending as to the punctuality of buses in South America… only to find out our watches were still on Brazil time (i.e. one hour later), as informed by the patient bus terminal attendant as we raved on to him about how late their bus was.
So yes, when you cross the river, you are also crossing into a different time zone. At least Argentina time is one hour earlier than Brazil time – if it had been the other way around we would have missed our bus completely!
And speaking of buses, check out how awesome our bus was:
Never have I had such a comfortable overnight bus in my entire life. It felt like I was flying business class… except on the ground. The seats fully reclined like a proper bed (a true cama service) and came accompanied by blankets and pillows. We were served a fairly decent dinner at 10pm (we wondered why the bus attendant was laughing at us when we had our own food for dinner spread out on our portable tables at 8pm. We didn’t expect to be fed!), and we were constantly served drinks and snacks of shortbread and cakes. We even had the option to have a glass of champagne had we so desired!
For 750 Bs, it was well worth it. Hats off to you, Rio Uruguay (the bus company, FYI)!