Iguazu falls: Which Side to Visit?

That’s the big question when you plan to visit Iguazu. The answer ain’t easy and depends a lot on the time you have. I arrived on the Argentinian side, visited the falls there, transferred to Belmond das Cataratas on the Brazilian side and visited the falls there the next day. What’s nice on the Argentinian side is that you get many different viewpoints, but on the other hand you need a lot more time than on the Brazilian side. Main paths are located far from the park’s entrance and you need to take a small train to reach their starting points. Begin with the Devil’s Throat which is at the furthest. You will see it from above, after walking for about 15 minutes on a footbridge set on top of the river. Look down on your way and you may see different animals in the river, like caimans, turtles and fishes. The view from the observation deck is impressive, but the place is crowded… Then take another path to get different views, like the Upper Circuit that meanders through the jungle with many different observation decks towards the falls. Look up to spot beautiful birds (toucans, vultures, condors…). On the Brazilian side it’s different. The path to the falls starts right in front of the Belmond hotel and quickly reaches them. At the end there is a nice footbridge to get close to the falls (and wet). The view of the Devil’s Throat from below is spectacular (and a lot more enjoyable without the crowds!). All in all, if you don’t have a lot of time and want to get a nice touch of the falls I recommend the Brazilian side. But is it worth travelling all the way there and not getting all of it? So allow yourself 2 days in Iguazu, start with the Argentinian side as early as possible on day 1, then spend some relaxing time at the Belmond and proceed on day 2 with the Brazilian side before the national park opens to the public.

Enjoy Iguazu falls, they are just as gorgeous as you can imagine!

Iguazu falls from the plane (landing on the Argentinian side)
Iguazu falls from the plane (landing on the Argentinian side)

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Belmond das Cataratas: the Best Hotel in Iguazu

Iguazu is one of those places where it’s easy to choose your accommodation. Not too many options, and one that’s stands out from the rest: the Belmond das Cataratas. Located on the Brazilian side and within the national park, you get privileged access to the falls before the park opens to the public. Keeping in mind how crowded the falls can get during the day, that’s a very big plus. Don’t bother booking a guided tour of the falls though, it’s unnecessary. Unlike the Argentinian side where you have to choose from many different paths, on the Brazilian side there is only one easy and clearly marked path that starts right in front of the hotel. In my next article I will debate the pros and cons of each side of the falls. But for now let’s focus on the hotel itself.

What I liked:

  • the location right in front of the falls and within the national park
  • the amazing pool (especially at night)
  • the hotel’s very nice tropical garden and its beautiful birds
  • the great breakfast on the poolside (and caipirinhas a bit later)
  • that feeling of serenity and loneliness right next to a highly touristic attraction

What I disliked:

  • the somehow old-fashioned and not so over-the-top rooms (nice bathrooms though)
  • a strange moldy smell in the rooms…!
  • the lack of signalization in the corridors (that place is huge and you get easily lost)
Deckchairs on the poolside, Belmond das Cataratas
Deckchairs on the poolside

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Guide to South Norway (Oslo, Stavanger, Bergen and Surrounding Fjords): 6 Days/5 Nights Itinerary

Driving from Oslo to Stavanger to Bergen and back to Oslo on Norway’s ultra-scenic roads is an experience you won’t soon forget! Prepare for some beautiful Scandinavian cities, old wooden churches, fjords, waterfalls and Viking ships. Here is how to do it.

Day 1: Oslo

Try to arrive early in Oslo to have the rest of the day for some sightseeing. A nice and original hotel in central Oslo that I can recommend is Hotel Guldsmeden. If you rent a car from day 1, there is a QPark nearby (expensive) or you can park in the street if you find a spot. Walk to the new and very modern district of Aker Brygge with a lot of restaurants on the seafront (quite touristy though). Continue to the impressive Opera House, new and modern as well. Then turn towards Oslo’s main railway station (Oslo sentralstasjon) on your left and walk up the Karl Johans street, Oslo’s main shopping street. At the end arises the Royal Palace (Kongelige Slott) and its surrounding park. First night in Oslo.

Oslo's Opera House, Norway
Oslo’s Opera House

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Yellowstone and Grand Teton in 2 Days

Let’s face it right away, 2 days to experience both these national parks is short. But if you don’t have more time and still want to see the main highlights, it’s feasible! You just need to be well prepared. This suggested itinerary starts in Gardiner (Montana), close to Yellowstone’s North Entrance. You will go all the way down through both national parks until Jackson (Wyoming) on day 1 and then all the way up back to Gardiner via a different way on day 2 (first night in Gardiner, second night in Jackson and third night in Gardiner). Roads are in good condition and (most of) the main sights are very close to a parking, which make these great national parks easy to visit. All the attractions are clearly marked and the visitor centers provide very good maps of each site. Note that this trip can only be done in summertime, when all the roads are open.

Entering Grand Teton national park
Entering Grand Teton national park

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Around Iceland in Eight Days

Circling the scenic island in a week is feasible. You just need careful and efficient planning, long time ahead of your trip. A lot of driving is also involved. Best season to visit Iceland is summer (July-August) but it’s also high season. Hotels and guesthouses can be fully booked months in advance (even over a year in some cases)… Prepare to pay big bucks if you want decently comfortable accommodation, no luxurious resorts here but luxurious price tags (the Scandinavian way…). To get the best of your Icelandic trip, you will also need to rent a 4WD vehicle, as many roads in the highlands (marked as F-roads) are simply forbidden to 2WD vehicles (some of them are more or less accessible with standard vehicles, but you won’t be covered by the insurance in case of a problem if you decide to go despite the interdiction!). Also note that in June (and possibly even in early July) some roads can still be completely closed depending on how bad the previous winter has or hasn’t been. To be sure, plan your trip for late July or August (the downside being less daylight and darker nights). Renting any vehicle in Iceland is pricey (extra insurances are required because of the hazardous road conditions plus possible sand and/or ash blasts that can severely damage cars) and renting an SUV is very pricey. But again, it’s the only way of seeing every corner of the island (most of them being totally worth the price). Thepickytraveller doesn’t recommend renting a vehicle from Sixt, as they are located away from the terminal building and their customer service never replied to complaints regarding a malfunctioning A/C…

Reykjavik
Reykjavik

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