I’m currently in Argentina with my family for the kids spring break and absolutely loving it! It doesn’t hurt that we have seen two of the world’s great marvels: Iguazu Falls on the northern border and the Perito Moreno glacier down in Patagonia.
Iguazu is roughly a one hour flight from Buenos Aires. We went here first in order to add this to our flight itinerary without additional cost or miles. Only a day or two is necessary to see everything.
The falls really are spectacular and surpassed my expectations which were pretty high to begin with. Eleanor Roosevelt exclaimed “Poor Niagra” when she first saw them. I’ll take her word for it, because I’m embarrassed to say that I still have never seen my home state’s marvel. Only Victoria Falls can beat Iguazu on height, but the Argentinean falls surpass the African ones in width, and can be seen much more in depth due to the fantastic network of walkways and platforms surrounding and over them.
The rainforest providing the backdrop to Iguazu is beautiful as well, abundant with butterflies in all colors, toucans, monkeys, coati (related to the raccoon), snakes, turtles, crocodiles, and mosquitos. Due to the latter, use plenty of insect repellent with deet. Additionally, our doctor recommended we all receive the Yellow Fever and Typhoid vaccinations for this area.
Iguazu is right on the border of Brazil and Argentina so one can stay in either place to view them. Here’s the low-down on the two sides: the Brazil side does not have the extensive viewing walkways and platforms as Argentina but it is said that the view is better for seeing the entire falls. One could visit both sides but this requires attaining an additional visa which would have amounted to approximately $650 for our family of four. We decided against it. I can’t attest to the view argument but I was extremely pleased with all the views I encountered and did not feel gypped in the least.
We stayed at the Sheraton which is the only hotel inside the national park on the Argentina side. There is one hotel inside the park on the Brazil side which looks quite lovely as well. The Sheraton is certainly nothing amazing but you can’t beat it’s location and view. Since it is in the park, we were able to get on the trails early before the park opened, beating both the crowds AND the tropical heat. We had the entire platform over The Devils Throat falls (it’s the BIG one!) to ourselves!
- FOOD: I’ll be honest: the food at this hotel is not great. The only things I can recommend are the bread, empanadas, fruit, and the spaghetti bolognese. Everything else was pretty much “meh.” But we knew this going in, so we’re not disappointed. Thank goodness for a nice list of cocktails and Malbecs! Both the bar and restaurant have lovely views of the falls.
- ACTIVITIES: There are tennis courts, a pool, and a spa at the hotel. The pool was a welcomed amenity after walks on the trails and through the rainforest.
HELPFUL TIPS: The Sheraton is only 15 minutes from the airport. You will need Argentinean Pesos to enter the park, so make sure you bring some with you. Also, the hotel does not have an ATM, though there is one at the airport and one at the entrance to the park — both of these only let you take out 1000 pesos at a time with a hefty service charge of 9%. FOR STARWOOD MEMBERS: We had great luck with upgrades, getting a suite and a deluxe room adjacent to each other.
- Plan to get out early in order to beat the crowds and the heat. Keep your eye out for the Toucans — we only saw them in the early morning.
Instead of waiting for the first train at 8:45 to the Devil’s Throat trail — which everyone from outside the park will be on!– walk the path running alongside the train tracks before 8 a.m. It is only 2 km to the start of the trail, and you can get out there early, have the place to yourself, and then take the first return train (around 9) or walk back. Next, do the Upper Circuit trail where you will encounter some unbelievable views along the way. This trail is less than a half mile long.
- You could push on, and do the Lower Circuit trail afterwards, and the adrenaline-pumping boat ride near the base of the falls, OR, take a swim/lunch break back at the Sheraton, and resume with the Lower Circuit trail and boat ride afterwards. The Lower Circuit is pretty quick and easy, and the boat ride is only 12 minutes long (and will cool you down!)
- Spend the afternoon relaxing by the pool or napping in air-conditioning. But be sure to utilize your terrace or the rooftop of the Sheraton for the spectacular sunset show.
You can find out more on the website to the park HERE.
Please feel free to ask me any questions on Iguazu in the comments!