Backpacking in Argentina: Puerto Iguazu – The Town

Jonny Blair the travelling Northern Irishman does Puerto Iguazu - a lifestyle of travel

Puerto Iguazu – the town – everyone visits for the nearby waterfalls!

Most people who travel in South America see the glorious waterfalls of Iguazu as a “must visit”, I didn’t. I’d seen waterfalls in Australia, Canada and Iceland already and for me to see Iguazu would simply be a bonus. However I ended up there anyway, as it fitted in perfectly with my plans to travel from Montevideo to Asuncion, in fact this was a good place to stop on that journey! So I was now happy to be able to visit the waterfalls, which I viewed from both sides.
 
So, Puerto Iguazu then. Rather than the waterfalls itself, this little report is simply about the town. After a long trip from Montevideo to Colonia (by bus) then a connection from Colonia to Buenos Aires (by boat – and passport controls) and a 20 minute walk to the Retiro de Omnibus, I finally got an 18 hour bus from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazu. When I arrived in the tropical town of Puerto Iguazu, there were massive thunderstorms. It all added to the experience as I considered a hostel for the night, had already e-mailed one called Hostel Inn Iguazu.
Rain drenched arrival at the main bus station in the small town of Puerto Iguazu.
Hostel and hotel PR people nag you a lot in the bus station trying to get you to stay in their place so I did the obvious thing and ignored them all, instead opting for a bus out of town to the highly recommended Hostel Inn Iguazu (I had emailed a kind of reservation to them), which at one point was voted “the best hostel in South America.” It showed that I wasn’t tired at all, the fact I would rather get a bus out of the town in a strange place to a hostel I didn’t know how to find, than take one of the easy options and stay right there in the town centre. There were at least 4 or 5 hostels/hotels near the bus station. However it wasn’t just the hostel’s reputation that magnetised me to it, I had also read that it was half way between the town and the waterfalls themselves. This turned out to be spot on, and I saved a bit of money staying out of town, buses were cheaper and I was closer to the waterfalls. The bus from Puerto Iguazu to the hostel was only 1.5 Pesos!
I asked a guy at the bus station about the bus to the hostel, knowing it was on the same route as the waterfalls (cataratas in Spanish) and he told me “es amarillo”, which means “it’s yellow”, first yellow bus I found was full of South Americans in hats and was heading to Paraguay (this was helpful 2 days later when I went to get my bus to Paraguay I knew where to wait). 
The next bus was the correct one. The local yellow El Practico Bus was heading way out of town so I kept my eyes peeled for a potential hostel 5 kilometres out of town on the left side of the road. I took a chance, asked the driver and hopped out onto this busy, rain drenched road. I was basically right outside the hostel, which was situated in a massive piece of land. The feeling about being in Iguazu was special. People were happy here. I was ready for the hostel, the waterfalls (the next day), a visit to Tres Fronteras (where you can view 3 countries from one spot – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay) and my onward buses to Brazil and Paraguay.
While staying in the hostel, I met a number of cool English lads, both nights they invited me out to party with them in Puerto Iguazu, and I said no both times. I was just enjoying the relaxation of Iguazu I guess. I’m sure they enjoyed their nights out there, but my alcohol intake for the entire 2 days was a wee Argentinian beer at the hostel and a beer across the border in Brazil at Foz Do Iguacu.
The hostel was superb and I stayed in a chalet outside the main hostel reception and entrance. Breakfast was included, a free swimming pool was outside, the internet was free yet intermittent. There was also a power cut during the thunderstorm and no hot water. It was all pretty enjoyable as I recall and a great last few days in Argentina, a country I enjoyed the beauty of, but not quite the people (just a little arrogant for my liking)! Another interesting point about the hostel was that it looked the business – it was excellent. They had free tango and dance shows, live music, happy hour cocktails at the bar and it definitely had deserved its once title of “best hostel in South America.” Bafflingly, my guide book by Lonely Planet hadn’t even recommended or mentioned it in their 8 places to stay in and around Puerto Iguazu. Probably because you need to get a bus or taxi out to it – it’s 5 kilometres or so from the town itself. Waterfalls, Tres Fronteras and Amazing Hostel to be written about elsewhere, so what did I make of the town known as Puerto Iguazu?
I found it quite relaxed, old fashioned and muddy. Mud due to the enormous amounts of rain that falls, the cars having to drive through mud roads and the fact there are forests and rainforests everywhere, this town is definitely a muddy one.
On board a local bus – I took many in and around Iguazu – very cheap and easy to navigate around a small town. Think there were just 3 or 4 main bus routes.
On the west side of the town, at the bottom of Avenida Fronteras (Borders Avenue), here you can see 3 countries all at once. Something I particularly enjoyed.
I think this is Avenida Misiones, one of the main streets in Puerto Iguazu. Quiet and tranquil and typically Argentinian.
A photo I took from the bus. I was trying to capture the welcome sign at the roundabout which was particularly eye catching.
A typical flat or apartment in the town of Puerto Iguazu.
Those flats were on this street, right in the town centre. Really not busy! But I did take these on a Sunday morning.
This sad, lonely, stray dog had only 3 legs.
This was my bus onwards to Paraguay. Memories of Puerto Iguazu are good! A very nice place.
The highlight of the trip to Puerto Iguazu has me torn between Iguazu Falls (in the above photo) taken on the Argentina side and the below photo…
It was a truly moving experience to be at a “country hat-trick border”, alone I walked round the area at Tres Fronteras. Lonely but happy. 
It was soon time to leave Puerto Iguazu, onwards to Brazil and Paraguay. That’s my final border control point in Argentina there. 
 
Where – Puerto Iguazu, Argentina
 
Population – 34,000
 
Main sights – Iguazu Falls (Argentina side), Foz Do Iguacu (close by on the Brazilian side), Tres Fronteras (3 Country Border).
 
Where I Stayed – Hostel Inn Iguazu Falls, Ruta 12, Km 5, Puerto Iguazu
 
Nationalities Met – Australian, English, Argentinian, Paraguayan, Peruvian, US, Israeli, Germans, Swedish.
 
MY VIDEOS:
 
THE APPROACH TO PUERTO IGUAZU FROM BUENOS AIRES BUS:
 
ARRIVAL IN PUERTO IGUAZU TRYING TO FIND MY BUS:
EDGE OF PUERTO IGUAZU LOOKING FOR HOSTEL:
 
THE HOSTEL INN IGUAZU:
 
BREAKFAST IN HOSTEL AT 7AM – DAY BEFORE WATERFALLS
 
DOWN AT TRES FRONTERAS:
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