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Iguazu NP - visas?

Portland, Oregon
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Iguazu NP - visas?

Hi - I've been reading many of the postings about the Falls (so very helpful!) I have my Brasil visa, (flying in and out of the Brasil side of the falls and planning on staying the night(s) on the Brasil side. Saw the note need a visa for Argentina - though when I checked out ARG website it said a visa not necessary for a stay of 90 days or less. True? Otherwise $160 for a day trip to see the ARG side of the falls - seems expensive, though if I'm coming all the way from the states, what's a bit more money?! Plan to be in the area early August. Will I need hiking boots, or would running shoes be okay or sturdy water shoes? Any thoughts on hotels to stay in on the Brasil side or would it be better to be on the ARG side?

Thanks for any and all help!


Abilene, Texas
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for Buenos Aires
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1. Re: Iguazu NP - visas?

The $160 is a reciprocity fee rather than a visa but, yes, you will neede to pay the fee in advance online in order to enter Argentina

Edited: 04 June 2014, 01:45
San Clemente...
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for Buenos Aires, Argentina
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2. Re: Iguazu NP - visas?

Running shoes or water shoes are fine for the walkways inside the park. If you plan on doing the boat ride under the falls then the water shoes are perfect since you get completely soaked.

The Argentine side of the falls requires more time for a visit. I would plan on staying in a hotel in Argentina since the town is user friendly and has some nice restaurants.

The Brazilian side requires about 4 hours for a visit if you include the bird sanctuary also. The views of the falls from Brazil are amazing.

The Argentine park is a more up close and personal visit to the falls and requires at least a full day.

The Reciprocity fee for Argentina as described by Dr. D can be purchased online prior to entering Argentina.

Lunenburg, Canada
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for Saint John, Foz do Iguacu, Iguazu National Park
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3. Re: Iguazu NP - visas?

Hi Lynn!

Here's how the visa/reciprocity business works for Argentina. (You've already figured out the Brazilian visa, I see.)

The reason Brazil wants us Canadians, you Yanks, and Australians to have visas is because our governments demand the same of Brazilian visitors to our countries. Straight tit for tat.

The Argentines, and also the Chileans, have figured out that while retaliation may soothe national pride, it does great harm to the tourist industry. As you found, getting the Brazilian visa is time consuming and troublesome, in addition to expensive. Lots of people just skip Brazil because of it.

The Argentines and Chileans get their tit-for-tat by simply demanding the costly payment, while foregoing the time and trouble of actual visas. US passport holders pay a tax of US$160/person. (We Canadians pay about US$70.) By sparing you the running around to obtain visas, they hope you'll just pay up and come.

It's called a Reciprocity Fee, a kind of arrival tax. You pay this yourself. It is not collected by your airline or travel agent. For Argentina, you must pay it in advance, and you likely will not be allowed to board your aircraft for Argentina unless you carry proof of payment. (In Chile, you pay in the airport on arrival.)

(Certain countries, not those in North America, nor Australia and New Zealand, nor the European Union, do require special visas in advance for Argentina. You know who you are. Conversely, New Zealanders and the European Union do not require the special visa for Brazil for an ordinary tourist visit. Always check your country's foreign affairs website.)

You are required to pay your Argentine arrival tax in advance, over the internet. It's a complicated website. You pay up front by credit card, then print out your paid receipt. Keep the paid receipts in with your passports until you leave Argentina for the last time. On any re-entries, the Argentine border patrol will want to see receipts again each time.

I part company with those who say you should expect to spend more time in Argentina. This is not what we found.

Brazil gets the only panoramic view of the falls. If you were forced to choose just one side, my choice would be Brazil.

Argentine tourist maps seem to show a whole day's worth of trails and tours inside the national park on their side, but the reality is that there's just one Iguasu River. You walk up the river, on either side, from the lower end of the river gorge to the grand falls.

Most of the falls, almost two miles long, lies territorially in Argentina. This means that Brazil gets the best view. (Same principle as Niagara: falls in US, view from Canada.)

On the Argentine side, part of the walk goes over the top of some of the smaller falls on a series of little bridges. (The Argentine side is not a river bank, but a long curtain of falls.) The Argentines have also built a half-mile catwalk out over the river above the falls, so you can walk as close as they dare to the lip of the grand falls. In Argentina there's an island between two levels of the falls, and a place where you can walk down to the river. More than a mile of the Argentine side, the section between the little bridges and the grand falls, doesn't even get a view of the river. You take a shuttle train inland, or walk along the tracks.

Since the falls themselves are in Argentina, the walk up the river gorge in Brazil is dry land, with a panoramic view all the way. The trail in Brazil, which obviously is the same length as the Argentine side, ends near the base of the grand falls, and you can go down to an observation platform for the best view up at the grand falls. Brazil also has a restaurant overlooking the grand falls. (Argentina has no view of the grand falls from anyplace close. Its restaurant is in the parking lot, with no view.)

Expect to get wet. I'd wear older walking shoes, the find you don't mind if they get damp. In Argentina, with bridges over smaller falls, we found that inevitably we got water on our shoes. There will likely be spray, depending on the wind direction. If you take one of the boat tours, it will sail completely under some of the smaller falls, and you should expect to get head-to-toe soaking wet. Bring a supply of zip-lock baggies for papers and your cameras.

For overnight, we preferred the Brazilian side, especially if you like getting out of the hotel for supper and are interested in nightlife. The Brazilian city, Foz do Iguaçu, is bigger, livelier, and has more choices than smaller Puerto Iguazu, Argentina. On the other hand, Brazil will likely be more costly.

In Argentina, bring US dollar cash! The Buenos Aires government artificially overvalues its currency for us tourists, charging us almost 60% more that the money is actually worth. If you pay in Argentina by credit card or debit card, or if you change money in a bank or official exchange booth, you must pay the higher price. If you carry US dollars, though, you may be able to get the hotels and other businesses to accept payment in dollar cash at the true exchange rate, not the government's rate. (Or perhaps change money on the black market which, though illegal, seems to be common. More in Buenos Aires than provincial towns, there are human banking machines on every corner along popular tourist streets.)

This does not work at the Argentine national park, unfortunately, where I understand they accept only Argentine cash, which for a short visit you'll probably have to pay the government rate for.

Happy travels!



London, United...
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4. Re: Iguazu NP - visas?

Unfortunately, the $160 is not a visa and you will have to pay it even just for the day. Although I loved both sides, I agree that it isn't worth $160 just for that.

5. Re: Iguazu NP - visas?

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