January 24, 2007

Uruguay to Iguaçu
Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil

It took two days, two nights, and 1,800 kilometers of travel to reach Foz do Iguaçu from the coast of Uruguay.

Tatiana and I were in the city of Piriápolis, Uruguay, trying to figure out the best path to reach the joint Brazilian/Argentine waterfalls of Iguaçu. I'm going to write the details down for the benefit of those who are researching a similar decision.

Terrestrial options were time consuming and not cheap, looking something like the following:

Bus from Piriápolis…

  • back to Montevideo (2 hours), then ferry across to Buenos Aires and bus to the Argentine side of the falls—expensive transit.
  • back to Montevideo, bus north to Salto, ferry across the river border into Argentina, and catch a bus to the Argentine side of the falls (route details available on the Lonely Planet forum)—Overly complicated, travel in Uruguay is slightly cheaper than Argentina though.
  • back to Montevideo, catch a "direct" bus to Porto Alegre, Brazil, and then a bus to the Brazilian side of the falls—not a bad option, but backtracking to Montevideo wasn't desirable.
  • to nearby city of Maldonado, then to Chuy (the border town with Brazil), then onward to Porto Alegre, and finally a bus to the Brazilian side of the falls—the option that was eventually selected.

Buses from the popular beach town of Punta del Este to the border with Brazil are limited, or non-existent (so say the folks at the bus terminals). This was rather surprising to hear.

We were also told that the border crossing into Brazil at Rivera is much calmer and more organized if taking the bus from Montevideo to Porto Alegre (as opposed to Chuy).

Instead of lounging on the beach the day before leaving, we probably should have been figuring out and finalizing our route. Noon on departure day found us scrambling to figure things out.

Moments before our bus left town I was still running around the city, as I had absent mindedly forgotten to mail a postcard to my parent's home—the only souvenir I collect from a country.

Bus times did end up lining up nicely, but if I had to do things over again I would have probably opted to return to Montevideo to grab the bus (I tend to dislike border towns greatly, and Chuy was no exception).

From Chuy there are only two buses that go to Porto Alegre, one at noon and another at 11 at night (both taking 9 hours and costing US$36). Only two buses run from Porto Alegre to Foz do Iguaçu each day; one at 13:00 and another at 19:00 (taking 11–15 hours and costing about US$56).

We decided to spend the day in Porto Alegre, and after taking a shower and stashing our bags in a terminal locker we ventured into the blistering summer heat. It was our intention take a tour of the city via double-level tourist bus (US$3), but discovered later in the afternoon there was no guide or driver showed up to conduct the tour.

Time lapsed quickly, and after a nasty incident in the bathroom, we found ourselves on a bus yet again.

Path Details

  • 16:00—Piriápolis to Maldonado
  • 17:30—Maldonado to Chuy
  • 23:00—Chuy to Porto Alegre
  • 19:00 (day 2)—Porto Alegre to Foz do Iguaçu
  • 09:30 (day 3)—Arrival

Foz do Iguaçu

This city is much larger than I expected it to be. With a population of 300,000 and 20-story apartment buildings, it reminds me of the Argentine beach city of Mar del Plata (minus the beach).

Accommodations are both spendy and booked here at the moment, but we've settled down at Hostel Bambu. Nice amenities here (swimming pool, outdoor kitchen, and the such).

Lord it's hot and humid here—think I'll give that pool a try.

Comments:

Anonymous

November 16th, 2008

Thank you for this info!!! I have been trying forever to figure out how to get from Uruguay to the Falls!! I really appreciate it! I think I will take the Montevideo option!!

Anonymous

October 7th, 2009

Hello, Thank you for the post. I was just wondering, Did you need a visa when you passed from Chui to Porto Alegre?

Thanks!

The United States

Craig | travelvice.com

October 7th, 2009

As an American, I did need a visa in advance to cross into Brazil (which I'd picked up ahead of time in BsAs).

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