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Does it make sense to stay inside Iguazu National Park?

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Does it make sense to stay inside Iguazu National Park?

My family and I will be making the trip to see Iguazu Falls in early July. I'm looking into hotels right now and don't mind spending the $$$ to stay inside the park at Sheraton or Hotel das Cataratas but I'm wondering if it really makes sense or not. I understand that one of the biggest benefits of staying inside the park is that you get more time inside. But if the park closes at 6PM and it gets dark around 6PM anyway, does it make a difference?

Is the night time view of the falls worth spending the $$$ for? I have a very tight 1.5 day schedule so I'm trying to ensure that I have enough time to see as much of the falls as possible. My family and I are very efficient travelers so we don't mind moving fast if we have to. :-)

TIA!

Jenn

Lunenburg, Canada
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for Saint John, Foz do Iguacu, Iguazu National Park
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1. Re: Does it make sense to stay inside Iguazu National Park?

Hi Again, Jenn!

Here's an article I previously wrote on this very subject. I've edited it for you, and I apologize to those who may already have read it:

Whether to stay in the swank Hotel Cataratas in Brazil (and likewise the Argentine Sheraton) will depend on several factors that you must weigh:

- both are quite pricy. Do you want to pay?

- both are located inside the respective national parks, so you can go down to the falls at any hour, even when the park is closed to everybody else

- will you really want to go to the falls at all hours? You have to think about sleep, resting, meals, and doing your toilet. At night, do you think you will really go strolling enough to justify the extra cost.

- the Cataratas is 15 miles from town. (The Sheraton is about 10 miles from Puerto Iguazu, Argentina.) Were you hoping to dine and shop downtown, or are you happy to stay at the hotel and eat in its pricy restautant?

- very nice hotels costing between half and one-quarter the price of these luxury places are located on the roads between the falls and downtown. For example, we overnighted at the Florença in Brazil for around US$70/night. The Florença is around 6 miles from the national park gates. There are a number of other swank roadside hotels that still cost nowhere near Cataratas (and Sheraton) prices. Things are even cheaper in the cities.

- buses and taxis will take you to the park from hotels along the road or from downtown. For that matter, complimentary transportation from the hotels is provided for those who book tours, such as the Macuco boat ride up under some of the falls.

The international bridge between Brazil and Argentina is located about 3 miles from downtown Foz do Iguaçu or 12 miles from the falls. In other words, to go from Brazil to Argentina is less convenient from the Cataratas than it would be from most anyplace else on the Brazilian side. (And vice versa for the Sheraton.) If you're taking a taxi to Argentina, though, you'd cover any extra distance in under 10 minutes, so I would not think distance from Argentina is much of a factor for anyone.

Note that you cannot cross between Argentina and Brazil DIRECT at the falls itself. There are no crossings in the national parks. The only way is to drive 12 miles around to the international bridge, cross there, then another 7 or 8 to the Argentine national park.

If you'll be traveling under a US (or Canadian or Australian) passport, check with your foreign affairs website to find out what visa rules apply to you. I believe that US passport holders visiting Brazil require special, expensive visas that must be arranged in advance. These are not the kind of visas that are merely stamped in at the border. To enter Argentina, you have to pay in advance over the internet, a special arrival tax before they will let you cross the border.

Happy travels!

David

capetien10@gmail.com

Dubai, United Arab...
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2. Re: Does it make sense to stay inside Iguazu National Park?

Big thank you David for such a valuable information!

San Francisco...
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3. Re: Does it make sense to stay inside Iguazu National Park?

Yes, thank you David! You're always so helpful! :)

Jenn

Italy
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4. Re: Does it make sense to stay inside Iguazu National Park?

I would definitely not stay at the hotels inside the park as you are stuck there unless you get a taxi into the towns, for me the best place to stay is Puerto Iguazu on the argentine side, it's a little town with a good choice of bars and restaurants, we stayed at the St George which is across the street from the bus station so ideal to catch the bus to the falls.

Abilene, Texas
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for Buenos Aires
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5. Re: Does it make sense to stay inside Iguazu National Park?

There are pros and cons of staying inside the park. I have done both and can see advantages to either option. Outside the park, prices are lower and restaurant options more plentiful. Inside the park, the primary advantage is convenience and the ability to site see before the masses arrive for the day and after they leave.

Personally, if this is a once in a lifetime trip and you are only there for a day or two, I'd opt to pay the premium to stay at the Sheraton in the park. I usually eat lunch out in the park and order a pizza and wine at the bar in the evening (The restaurant evening buffet is expensive and the food is mediocre, at best). I have also shared a cab with another couple to go into town to eat and enjoy local musicians in town at Color Pizza and Parrilla.

http://www.parrillapizzacolor.com/index.php

Ottawa, Canada
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6. Re: Does it make sense to stay inside Iguazu National Park?

Hi David,

I will be travelling to Florianopolis in October and would like to plan a visit to the falls. Would I be better to book a tour from here in Ottawa or book with an agency in Florianopolis? Also where do I find out about the fee to be paid when entering Argentina?

thank you

Ottawa, Canada
3 posts
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7. Re: Does it make sense to stay inside Iguazu National Park?

Hi David,

I will be travelling to Florianopolis in October 2013 and staying with a friend there. I would like to plan a trip to the falls (this is my first time to Brazil). Would it be better to book the trip from here (Ottawa) or from Florianopolis? Is it better to book with a tour operator or just book flights and a hotel on my own? It sounds like from a lot of the posts that you don't really need a tour in the park, it is quite easy to get around on your own? Any info would be appreciated. Thank you!

ann

Lunenburg, Canada
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for Saint John, Foz do Iguacu, Iguazu National Park
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8. Re: Does it make sense to stay inside Iguazu National Park?

Hi Ann!

Florianopolis to Iguasu falls is a trip we actually did, driving ourselves in our own rental car.

Leaving Florianopolis in the morning, we rounded Curitiba at lunch time and overnighted in Guarapuava, halfway between Curitiba and Iguasu Falls. That got us into Iguasu around 3 p.m. Coming back, in a leisurely manner we got as far as Ourinhos on our first day, than had an easy drive back to São Paulo in the afternoon.

Highways in southern Brazil are in good condition. The route from Curitiba in Parana state is 4-lane freeway west of Curitiba, and after that good two-lane divided highway with occasional third lanes for passing westward to Iguasu. In São Paulo state, it's 4-lane freeway, but the section in Parana is mostly 2-lanes. It's easy to maintain 110 km/h.

At Iguasu Falls, you have no need of a guide. The attractions are self-evident. The only use for a guide may be for brief casual visits to Paraguay and Argentina, especially if you don't have the necessary visas.

David

Lunenburg, Canada
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for Saint John, Foz do Iguacu, Iguazu National Park
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9. Re: Does it make sense to stay inside Iguazu National Park?

There can be different meanings to "tour." You'll probably want to take a boat ride up the Iguasu River. This is sometimes described as a "tour," but it's really a boat ride. Think of the Maid of the Mist boat ride in the Niagara River, except that the Iguasu River has more rapids, so they use powerful rubber Zodiac boats, the kind police use in waterborn rescue.

The boats in Brazil are the Macuco "tour." In Argentina, it's the Gran Aventura.

They may also try to sell you a jungle so-called "safari." This consists of a short drive over a paved park road in the back of a game-drive jeep. We didn't think the "safari" was worth the money. We could have done the same on foot for free, and we saw smarter people than us doing just that. The fancier trees have plaques with the names in Latin, Portuguese (or Spanish in Argentina) and English. In the jeep, our guide announced all the names in Portuguese, but since we could read the plaques ourselves his patter was superfluous. English tours are sometimes held, but infrequently. It may please you to know that most of the guests are not English-speakers.

The same with the so-called "Eco Train" in Argentina. Falsely described as some sort of green contraption, this is really just a shuttle train from the parking lot about one mile to the catwalk out over the upper river from the Argentine side. (Think of Disney World between parking lots and the main gates.)

The train is every half-hour or so. There's one train on a single track, so if you miss it you have to wait for it to go all the way out and all the way back. Or do as we did: walk! A one way walk takes about 20 minutes, less time than the shuttle takes for a return trip.

To be sure, the heat may be intense and perhaps you won't feel like quite this much walking. Know, though, that there's nothing romantic or ecological about the shuttle train.

The catwalk to as close as the Argentines dare to the lip of the grand falls is certainly worth the visit. (There was damage in recent flooding, and I don't have up-to-the-minute information about whether it's up and running again.) The shuttle through the "jungle" (actually just a railroad track along a wide road) is just that -- a shuttle train.

David

Ottawa, Canada
3 posts
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10. Re: Does it make sense to stay inside Iguazu National Park?

Thank you David, wonderful information! I hadn't thought about driving, but with 4 of us going, this would be much more economical than flying. When I inquired about tours, I meant should I book flights and hotels through an agent or book them myself. However if we drive, I assume we could just go on-line and book hotels in the places you mention.

ann

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