From Cusco we flew to Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil, via Lima. Our goal here was to see Iguazú (Spanish spelling) / Iguaçu (Portuguese spelling), an enormous waterfall on the border. Both countries have national parks for the falls, and both are worth visiting, as you will see below!!
We luckily made our fairly short connection in Lima, about which I was a touch worried (ok maybe more than a touch!)… In Peru, connecting between international/domestic flights requires going out of the secure area and back through to the other terminal, plus crossing immigration controls (and/or customs). If entering the country you have to recheck your bags at the regular departures area, too. (Luckily for this leg we were on one ticket and our luggage was checked all the way through). One of the reasons for the extra steps is that domestic air travel (in Ecuador/Peru and Argentina) does NOT require you to remove liquids/follow the US/International standards. In Argentina we didn’t even have to remove laptops at security.
Back to Iguazú! Thanks to recent changes in visa rules it is now as easy as can be to enter Brazil as a US citizen. In fact we weren’t originally going to come to Iguazú due to the hassle/expense of the visas. For many years Americans had to get an expensive visa that necessitated going to a consulate and waiting weeks. It got a bit easier a couple of years ago (but no less expensive*) by adding an online application option. However now it is the more standard (for US citizens) “show up with your passport” entry.
We had a longish line at immigration, it is a tiny airport, but went through uneventfully. The forms we dutifully filled out, in quadruplicate (well one for each of us:) were ignored entirely. Our hotel, about 3 minutes from the airport, provided free transportation to the airport, so we had a nice car waiting for us.
We were all very pleasantly surprised by the lovely lobby and huge resort that the hotel turned out to be! Huge restaurant, 2 shops, and on-site tour agents. We had rooms directly across the hall from each other (normally we have apartments or “family rooms” but this hotel had neither available). We dumped our bags and had a funny time ordering dinner in Portuguese. After so long in Spanish speaking countries it was hard to adjust to Portuguese. However we got through it. Steve and I even had caiparinhas harkening back to our honeymoon in Brazil. Between those, a breakfast buffet offering pao de queijo, and guarana soda at lunch, we packed a lot of Brazilian favorites in less than 24 hours in the country:)
To the falls! The hotel tour agent (ah, Brazil/Argentina where things are open until 10pm;) let us know that the hotel had a very cheap shuttle to the national park for the following day every half hour! Turns out it was so cheap as the park entrance was even closer than I realized. I had not noticed the entrance to the park for tourists is about a 20 minute bus ride from the falls (the national park provides this for the tourists). Though I had been to the park 2 times before (yes, really) I had never entered quite this way.
We were pleased by the many self-serve kiosks to buy-your-own tickets and no lines to get on the bus. (You can see the long lines that must exist in peak season. I later read sometimes it can be a 2 hour wait?!?!?). Anyway, we walked right on the bus both ways!
The Brazilian side of the falls offers a panoramic view of the falls, and a chance to stand towards the base of the main falls. It’s stunning, and less time/walking than the Argentina side. (Also “fancier” park with branding and fancy souvenir shops and restaurants). You also can take a boat ride, though we passed on that (kids are still a bit boat-averse! Lol). Plus they really just wanted to get to the evening’s hotel in Argentina to get to a pool!
We then transferred over our first land crossing to Argentina! Day 2 of Iguazú is next!
* Note, the costs was reciprocal meaning that Brazil charged US citizens what the US charged Brazilian ones for entry, which honestly is entirely reasonable.