Iguassu Falls is (one of) the biggest waterfalls in the
World and connects Argentina with Paraguay and Brazil. It attracts over a
million visitors every year and is one considered as one of the ”New Seven
Wonders of the World”. It consists of 170 individual waterfalls together making
up the broadest waterfall in the World.
Our overland group had decided that instead of staying one
night in Port Iguazu in Argentina and then pack our tents to move on to Foz de
Iguazu in Brazil, we should go straight to Brazil and spend all three nights
there instead. As we got there late in the evening there was not much to do
other than staying in at our hoste, Hotel Paudimar, do some cooking and
afterwards having some drinks at the bar to use the rest of our Argentinean
Pesos and celebrate that two days of straight driving was over. Since we only
had two full days at the national park, we had decided that it would not be
other than fair to spend one day on the Brazilian side and the other taking a
shuttle over to the Argentinean side to fully explore the waterfall and make up
our own minds about which side was the prettiest. Some short facts about each
of the sides:
The Brazilian side:
The city on the Brazilian side is called ”Foz de
Iguazu” or just ”Foz”
Entrance fee to the national park costs 23 us
dollars which includes a shuttlebus going from the park entrance up to the
”Devils Throat”, which is the biggest waterfall and the highlight for many when
visiting the falls
Our highlights on the Brazilian side was to
first see the whole waterfall from a distance to see how huge it really was and
afterwards walking to walk towards it until we were standing right at the very bottom
of the Devils Troat.
The absolute minimum time to explore the falls
from this side is three hours, where the rest of the day can be spent going to
Ciudad del Este in Paraguay or to the Itaipu dam which is the second biggest
dam in the World.
Best tip: instead of taking the panoramic
elevator up beside the Devils Throat, take the walk instead and be alone for a
while. The national park on both side is really crowded so I am sure you will
The Argentinean side:
The city on the Argentinean side is called
Entrance costs 17 usd and includes unlimited
rides with the train between the viewpoints
Highlights being walking through jungle and
along the roaring falls where we saw ”coies”, fresh water aligators, tucans and
The minimum time to explore the park from this
side I would say is a full day
Best tip: walk the 2 hour blue path beside and
down to the falls and try a boat ride at the bottom (20usd). It takes you under
and through the falls, which gives you both a cheap adrenaline rush and
beautiful view from the bottom.
It is absolutely worth going to both falls and spending a
whole day in each, but if you had a gun pointed to your head or a really tight
budget I would say that you should choose the Argentinean side over the
Brazilian, as it is cheaper and also much cheaper. The national park was really
touristy, somewhere between Victoria Falls and Niagara Falls but that is also
for a reason. Iguassu Falls is absolutely awesome and a must see when traveling
in South America.
So far the truck has taken us 1300 kilometers from Buenos Aires to Iguassu falls on the Brazilian border. We have been driving two full days from early morning to right before sunset, in time to set up our tents for each night. Except from the cities, where we live in either hotels or use proper camping facilities, we do bush camping which means that we will stop at some quiet place along the road to camp in the nature.
We are also cooking almost all meals our selves, and we rotate in groups for the shopping, cooking and cleaning. In addition each one of us have a special responsibility (eg. gas tanks, lockers for passports, the water tank etc) on the truck to ensure cleanliness and safety of us and our things. Gas stations are usually where we find our toilets and where we do the cooking stops, but like yesterday where we made a lunch stop at a UNESCO heritage site (The Jesuit Missionary ruins of San Ignacio, 9 USD entry), we also try to stop to see a few things along the road.
The overland truck is spacious, and the many hours on the road is spent sleeping, reading and knitting for some. We also have stocked up with 300 liters of drinking water so that we will not be needing shops and gas stations once we go into the jungle. Our truck has also had a small breakdown along the road, as both our guides (which are girls btw) are trained in mechanics so after less than an hour we were back on the road again.
As we have been getting closer to the Pantanal and the Amazon, which are known for their wildlife, the birds have gotten prettier, the animals have gotten more exotic and the insects have become much bigger. Last night we found a tarantula looking spider outside our tent and the ants climbing the trees here are as long as a full grown grape back home. I guess this is just warm up for what is coming ahead as we go further into the Brazilian countryside.
Tomorrow morning at 6AM we will be leaving Argentina and spend the next few days in San Ignacio and Iguazu Falls, and I am sure that as soon as we leave I will start missing the beautiful city of Buenos Aires!
We found a place right next to Hotel Carsson in Viamonte Street where we ate lunch almost every day, as they had a huge selection of meals that you could pick from at a price of only 60 pesos per kilo! It was our best value restaurant in Buenos Aires, and it was not possible to get tired of it since they had every dish imaginable.
Argentina is also known for its quality meat from happy cows fed on green grass in the Pampas, and almost every other day of our two weeks in Buenos Aires we have gone to different restaurants to try to find the best beef in South America. We have narrowed it down to the three places we liked the most and can truly reccommend:
La Brigada: I dare calling the best beef I ever had, and ever will have. When the waiter served us our steak, he cut a little piece of with a spoon to ask us if we wanted a new one, less or more well done. A normal soup spoon! I honestly never thought it was possible to cut meat with a spoon, but when I put the piece of meat in my mouth it almost melted in my mouth and chewing it with my tongue would have been enough.
La Cabrera: was also a place where we got served real tender Argentinean beef. The best part of this place except from the delicious food, was that they had happy hour between the hours of 7 and 8 where the first ones showing up got 40%. There was a line outside and you pick your meal while waiting for them to open, then you pay upfront and get your meal served really fast so that you can leave before other guests arrive around 8, as Argentineans wont even consider calling it a dinner if the meal is served before 8 and on weekends they would sometimes have their dinner as late as around midnight! Great for us who could enjoy a luxurious beef meal with wine for around 300 pesos per person (at happy hour)
Siga La Vaca is a really good “tenedor libre” (all-you-can-eat) restaurant which was great for us to do in the beginning of our Buenos Aires stay, as we then could try a littlebit of all kinds of beef to find our favorites. The meat and prices were good which clearly was reflected in the long line of people waiting to come in around 9 o’clock when we left. A bottle of wine was also included in the buffet price at 180 pesos per person.
You will also get a good steak meal for around 100 pesos pretty much in every restaurant, and even at our tango lessons/ dinner show that we went to (link) only cost 390 pesos and included a quality steak with unlimited wine. There are still endless places where we have not visited, plenty of restaurants that you would have loved as well, and if you go to Buenos Aires you have to be careful so that you dont end up rolling back to your own country.
It is no secret that the economy in Argentina is not going so well at the moment. For the tourists going to Argentina this is good news as everything gets cheaper, but locals are loosing their money from inflation and jobs from poor company turnover. Some people make protests in the street and are not happy with the foreigners exploiting the situation even more by the three steps I am about to tell you, and maybe you will understand after some background information.
Ever since the Argentinean Peso started to drop significantly in 2012, people started to change their whole savings into other currencies to secure themselves against their money becoming worthless. The government was then quick to put a ban on the US dollars and other currencies, and as a result the Argentineans could not withdraw foreign currency or change their currency, even when going abroad. And just like all other illegal things it became available in the underground at much more expensive prices. The profits were big as well, which probably is the reason why you will find (probably) hundreds of people in Florida Street and LaValle Avenue shouting “Cambio”, “Dollars, “Euros” etc in hopes of buying some dollars of you that they can sell to the Argentineans afterwards.
Therefore; when travelling to Argentina bring as many dollars as you can get as you can sell them to as much as 10-12 pesos when they at the official market rate are only worth around 7-8 Argentinean Pesos. Even restaurants and hotels will sometimes accept dollars at the “blue market rate”, which would save you/ give you around 30% extra on everything you buy! If you cannot get dollars at home you can just take a ferry over to Colonia in Uruguay, which costs around 60 US dollars round trip (market rate) where you can withdraw as many dollars as you want from all ATMs. When exchanging on the street you have to be careful to get real notes (not fake ones) be descrete and jump into a taxi once you have done the exchange. How much people offer you for your dollars also depends a littlebit on the amount and shape of your dollars (crisp hundreds are the best), but this link will show you daily updated rates of the dollar on the blue market.
Once you have the money changed you should go crazy when shopping as Buenos Aires is the perfect city with good selection of stores and cheap prices. Argentina, unlike most other South American countries is not a place where bartering is common. But, the economy is not going too well and the shops are very eager to get you to buy from them, so there is some leeway, namely asking for a cash discount, which many places is around 10% which can save you some money if you are shopping a lot. And hey, you already have all your money in cash from exchanging money from dollars, so why not ask for it?
On top of that, all tourists have a bonus when shopping abroad. Namely that they are not obliged to pay tax on the things they buy as long as they are leaving the country for good within three months of the purchase. When shopping we asked for tax free/ tax refund forms so that we could get 17% of everything we bought refunded upon departure from Argentina. We got refunded our tax both at the harbour when leaving to Uruguay and at the border post when leaving to Brazil and if you are planning on flying you can also go to the tax office at the airport to get it refunded there as well.
So if you if you are planning on going on a shopping holiday soon, make it Buenos Aires in Argentina- the Paris of South America, as you will not find as good selection for as cheap anywhere else than here at the moment.
Salta was our first big city since La Paz, and it was also the most western city we had visited so far on our travels in South America. Our hotel was located right next to the main shopping street, which was pretty much where we spent most of our time in Salta.
For the evenings we also went to the Balcarce street, where most of the restaurants were Peñas, traditional Argentinean restaurants with folkloric live music. All of the bands playing did quite a bit of talking to the restaurant guests and invited them up for dancing with their dance performers. One of the dances also ended up in the whole restaurant getting up and dancing bologne out on the street. A visit to a Peña is definately something that should not be missed when going to Argentina.