Iguazu Falls (Argentinian part)

On this route through three countries you will see four of the most important cities in South America: Montevideo, Buenos Aires, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Also, halfway through you will enjoy one of the seven natural wonders of the world: Iguazu falls. You are ready?

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1. Río de la Plata. From Montevideo to Buenos Aires.

The Río de la Plata is an estuary that forms the Uruguay River when it empties into the Atlantic Ocean. On both banks of the bay are the two capitals of the two countries that divide the Uruguay River, the country of the same name and Argentina. Montevideo and Buenos Aires are only 200 kilometers in a straight line, so without a doubt the best option is to go by boat from one to another. It is not worth traveling from one to the other by plane or by road, since it would be necessary to go around the bay and possibly take longer than by boat. I did not check it, because the boats are comfortable and cheap. They are also very popular, the one I took was not too big but it was full, especially with tourists, but I suppose there were also workers from both countries.

Montevideo (Uruguay)

Argentina and Uruguay are two countries that are very similar and the same happens with Buenos Aires and Montevideo. The feeling it gives is that they only vary in size.

Montevideo is a city of 1 million inhabitants with a quieter and more familiar life. It is great to walk through its streets and see people walking quietly of course with their thermos of mate in hand. The old city and the beach area are worth seeing.

Buenos Aires, on the other hand, is a noisy city, with a lot of traffic, but it has some majestic buildings that undoubtedly came to be called the Rome of South America, with areas of interior courtyards with theaters, restaurants and tango venues. Great to spend a day or two also visiting, of course, the famous neighborhood of La Boca.

Buenos Aires-Argentina
Buenos Aires (Argentina)

2. The route to Iguazú. 

This section can be done by taking a flight from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazú, the Argentine city near the falls, which has an airport. But there are also buses that leave from Retiro Station. The bus ride lasts 18 hours, so you can do it at night. If you go out in the afternoon, during the last hours of light you will be able to see the banks of the Uruguay River and the landscape of the prairie and the Argentine plain and wake up seeing the banks of the Paraná River, with a more mountainous and forest landscape near Iguazú.

Next to the Natural Park there are also Foz de Iguaçu, which belongs to Brazil, and Ciudad del Este, which is in Paraguay. And it is that in this area the three countries come together, since the Iguazú River (where the waterfalls are) flows into the Paraná River that acts as a natural border between them. If you see the map at the end you will see it more clearly.

Between these three small cities you can get around by taxi at a very low price since the distances are short, but it is not for walking either! You can visit Ciudad del Este, that is famous for its markets at good prices, and stay in Foz de Iguaçu after eating a barbecue in Puerto Iguazú. Or stay in the Argentine town and eat a rodicio in the Brazilian one, as you prefer!

The Iguazú National Park is divided by the Iguazú River, into two parts, the Brazilian part and the Argentinian part. And each part is managed by its own country, so... if you want to see the whole park, that is, both parts, you have to enter twice, one for Argentina and another for Brazil. The two are different but just as spectacular.

The guides recommend doing one part one day, and the other the other day, but it all depends on how long you want to take to see this paradise of nature and if you want to do activities such as kayaking or boat rides... or not. To see it only by walking, you only get one day, in the morning you go to the Brazilian part and in the afternoon to the Argentinian, or vice versa. Obviously you have to pay two tickets but the prices are very cheap, especially considering that you are going to visit one of the great wonders of nature.

The Argentinian part of the park is the largest and there are sections to travel on a little train, it is also where most of the activities are and you can see the falls from closer. The Brazilian part is smaller but for my taste it is more spectacular since you see the falls from higher up and you can take some incredible photos. So don't forget to go to both!!

Iguazú Falls (Brazilian part)

3. São Paulo and Río de Janeiro.

Foz do Iguaçu also has its small airport, so you can take a flight to São Paulo from here. But if you decide to continue by bus, it is another 16 hours of travel, so it is again advisable to make the journey at night and although it is not like a hotel, at least you save the accommodation for that day. Luckily, long-distance buses in Brazil are frequent and crowded, they have Wi-Fi and make stops in service areas so that the trip is not so monotonous.

Upon arriving in the city of São Paulo we meet again with tall buildings and wide streets full of cars. As in Rio de Janeiro, perhaps what strikes us at first glance from the bus is the contrast between the more developed urban areas and the favela areas. In São Paulo these areas are also closer together, since it is a flatter city. On the contrary, in Rio, the favelas are found in different areas throughout the city but far apart in height, since they grow on the slopes of the hills.

São Paulo is an important financial capital of Brazil and despite not being a tourist or coastal city, it is a huge city that has a lot of life and a great cultural and leisure offer.

São paulo
São Paulo (Brazil)

Finally, we will head to the city of Rio de Janeiro, our final destination. Rio is about 350 kms. and about 6 and a half hours by bus from São Paulo. This is the cheapest option, but you can also travel by plane between these two cities in less time (about 2 and a half hours). There are also quite a few daily flights and the prices are not too high either. So you decide.

Rio is very different from São Paulo. Due to its unique location on the coast and surrounded by hills with lots of vegetation, such as the famous Pão de Azúcar, it is a mainly tourist city. The views from the plane leave you almost speechless.

Whether you arrive at the airport or the Central Bus Station, it is advisable to take an urban bus or the metro to the beach areas such as Copacabana or Ipanema and stay there. There are prices for all audiences, although it also depends on the time you travel. As always, it is best to avoid traveling to these tourist areas in the high season months. (Remember that we are in the southern hemisphere and here the summer goes from December to March). In addition, this area of Brazil has a humid subtropical climate, which causes torrential rains to increase in summer.

Do not worry because although it is common that during the summer it starts to rain suddenly and you think that everything is going to flood, the only ones who are alarmed are tourists, since Brazilians are used to it and know that in a short time everything will be back dry. Anyway, the best time to travel is during the less hot and less humid months, that is to say, during the fall, spring and winter (from April / May to October / November).

Río de Janeiro
Río de Janeiro (Brazil)

Rio's life is on the street. Enjoy the atmosphere strolling next to Copacabana beach, where people are playing guitar, sunbathing or playing volleyball and footvolley. Copacabana or Ipanema are also full of terraces where people drink beer, caipirinhas or coconut water. And of course taking a walk through the center of Rio is well worth it, do not stay lying on the beach! It is highly advisable to rent a bike and travel the coast through Botafogo and Flamengo or go around the Lagoa. It's definitely a great experience! You can also visit the Tijuca area, near there are the facilities of the Olympic Games that were held in 2016.

And of course pay a visit to Christ the Redeemer, if you are Catholic you look for him, and if you are not, you turn around and contemplate the incredible views of the city. There are several ways to get there, by minibus or by a tourist train (Trem do Corcovado) that departs from the Cosme Velho neighborhood.

Click on the box at the top left of the map to choose the layers you want to see.