Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
kathynorth

DIY Iguazu

Recommended Posts

This is a bit late, but thanks to everyone who contributed to our great Dec 2018 DIY sidetrip to Iguazu. We had a wonderful time at a much lower cost than we were quoted by online TA’s who advertise these trips, and way less than what the cruiseline was looking for. We stayed just 1 night and I calculated that our entire side trip was around $1,500 usd for 3 of us, including airfare, cabs transfers, and food. I thought I’d pay it forward by adding a bit of what we experienced on the DIY portions of our trip.

 

  • I followed the directions from a previous poster on how to make a reservation with Aerolineas and called the BA call center 1-800 number I found on the internet. I was informed that there is an additional processing fee for making a voice reservation and the agent recommended I make the reservation online via the Argentine website. She even stayed on the phone as I made my reservation via the website so she could be of assistance if I needed any.

 

  • The reservation process itself is a bit confusing because I first received an email indicating the reservation I had requested was accepted. I then needed to log back into the Aerolineas website to pay for my ticket to avoid paying the processing fee. I clicked the provided link and paid for my tickets ($158 USD pp round trip), then an email arrived with a copy of my boarding ticket.

 

  • Flying in and out of the Iguazu airport was an experience in itself. It felt more like a bus station than an airport. We were fortunate in that we didn’t experience any delays.

 

  • We saved so much $ on the airfare from what I expected to pay that we decided to splurge on a night at Melia so we could save time by being in the park. (We joined the Melia Rewards club and received a 20% discount) We thought the late evening and early morning access to the falls made it worth it given our short stay. We initially booked the cheapest Melia room ($335), but were offered an upgrade to a falls view for a nominal increase. This was hard for us to refuse as we stood at the check in counter mesmerized by the falls in the distance. We ended up paying $355 for a 3 person waterfall view room including breakfast. We quickly finished our check in, dropped off our bag, and were off to the trails.

 

  • Right after we booked our room we received an email with an offer for airport pickup/drop off for $16 each way and after a bit of research we decided this would work well for us. When we arrived at the Iguazu airport we were greeted by a driver holding a card with our name, carrying a cooler with cold water and iced wash clothes. This was an unexpected treat as it was very hot out. On our way to Melia we needed to stop in at the park entrance area. The driver walked us through the park registration process and we were on our way to Melia. The drivers on both ends were courteous and on time. We were so tired with all our walking at the end of day 1 that we decided to eat at the Melia buffet restaurant. I can’t remember how much this cost, but we had a delicious meal for under $150 for 3 adults, including a couple bottles of wine. The Melia grounds were beautiful, the infinity pool was awesome, and breakfast was a feast.
  •  
  • Now the waterfalls, what an awesome sight. IMO there is no need for a guide for Iguazu. This is a very easy park to navigate. You pick up a park map when you pay your entry fee or can get a map at any of the hotels in town. The trails are clearly marked and color coded. The walkways are level for the most part, but there are some steps to climb and lots of walking, walking, walking. Each turn of the trail brings you to a different view. The thunderous sound of the water crashing was nothing I’d ever heard before. We spent the first afternoon/evening walking the upper trails and took the train to Devil’s throat. We originally thought we see as much as we could of the Argentina side, then use the hotel service to travel to the Brazil side in the early morning. However, we changed our mind when we saw how vast and beautiful the Argentine park was.

 

  • Aventura Nautica boat ride: We used the excursion desk situated in the hotel to book an early morning boat ride under the waterfall. We were very glad we make this choice. On day 2 we were up early, had breakfast, and shot out the door when the park opened. When you stay at Melia you are already inside the park, so a quick walk down a path brings you to the walkways. We were taken on a brief wildlife tour (didn’t see much) on our way to the boat launch, then needed to navigate a very steep set of stairs to get to the dock. As an FYI, going down was way easier then getting back up those stairs. I can’t remember the cost of the boat trip (maybe $40-45pp?), but I remember thinking it was reasonable; after the boat trip I decided it was a bargain. If you go on the boat ride, be prepared to get absolutely soaked. You really do go right into the waterfall.

 

My only regret is that we weren’t able to add an extra night, which would have given us the chance to visit the Brazilian side. However, the Argentina side with boat ride worked well for us.  

 

Please feel free to ask questions or to post your own DIY tips for Iguazu!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
30 minutes ago, kathynorth said:

I thought I’d pay it forward by adding a bit of what we experienced on the DIY portions of our trip.

Good job.  We went to Iguazu about 25 years ago and it was awesome!  We stayed (one night only also) on the Brazilian side.  This was pre-digital camera and I couldn't tell how my pix were looking so took them at three different times of day...and they all turned out great 🙂  I know there are people who just won't DIY period but we thought this was easy even then.  Glad  you had a wonderful time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, kathynorth said:

This is a bit late, but thanks to everyone who contributed to our great Dec 2018 DIY sidetrip to Iguazu. We had a wonderful time at a much lower cost than we were quoted by online TA’s who advertise these trips, and way less than what the cruiseline was looking for.

 

Please feel free to ask questions or to post your own DIY tips for Iguazu!

Hello kathynorth -

Your post was so welcome and timely for us!  We learned quite a bit for sure.

We are also doing a DIY trip to Iguazu Falls after our cruise ship comes into Buenos Aires this January.  We had the choice, like you, of doing a travel agent tour, the cruise ship post-cruise tour, or our own.  We are fairly good at doing DIY trips (but never here before) so we went with that approach.  So glad that it all worked out for you!

 

We are flying to Iguazu Falls and staying at the Melia in the Park to save time (we said, let's splurge!).  We are staying 2 nights, so we really have just a short afternoon on arrival, one full day, and then head to the airport back to Buenos Aires at 11 AM the 2nd day.

We also made our air flights on the Aerolinas Argentinas website.

Thank you for the insight on getting a driver set up ahead of time to take you from the airport to the hotel.  I don't believe we got that email from Melia, but I will check.  Yes, $16 sounds like a good deal.

Did you carry anything but US $$ on this trip to Iguazu?  Did you use ATM's?

 

As for spending our time, we are unsure how to make best use of it.  We may follow your plan.  Did you have to book ahead for the Devil's throat train or just walk up and pay?  Did they go often?

Was there anything you didn't get to see that you wished you had seen?  Was it crowded?

When you took the boat ride (you have convinced me to just book it at the hotel), did you bring any special clothes?  dress in swim suits?  water shoes? I imagine the water felt good in the hot humid weather!

 

As we have a 2nd night - do you think it possible to go to the Brazilian side for a couple of hours?

 

Finally - it sounds like you did not book anything (no guides, boat trips, excursions) ahead of time.  This is good information.  We are fine and able to hike and walk around everywhere so what you did gave us encouragement.

 

Thank you again for your post.  When we travel I will post our experiences and pass it on.

Kent and Pam

California

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the information.  We also have the Melia booked for 2 nights at the end of January after we disembark from HAL Zaandam.  We have booked our air already, but will probably book the driver through Melia.  Approximately how many steps are there UP from the boat ride, as we are a bit old to be climbing mountains?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, CCWineLover said:

Hello kathynorth -

Your post was so welcome and timely for us!  We learned quite a bit for sure.

We are also doing a DIY trip to Iguazu Falls after our cruise ship comes into Buenos Aires this January.  We had the choice, like you, of doing a travel agent tour, the cruise ship post-cruise tour, or our own.  We are fairly good at doing DIY trips (but never here before) so we went with that approach.  So glad that it all worked out for you!

 

We are flying to Iguazu Falls and staying at the Melia in the Park to save time (we said, let's splurge!).  We are staying 2 nights, so we really have just a short afternoon on arrival, one full day, and then head to the airport back to Buenos Aires at 11 AM the 2nd day.

We also made our air flights on the Aerolinas Argentinas website.

Thank you for the insight on getting a driver set up ahead of time to take you from the airport to the hotel.  I don't believe we got that email from Melia, but I will check.  Yes, $16 sounds like a good deal.

Did you carry anything but US $$ on this trip to Iguazu?  Did you use ATM's?

 

As for spending our time, we are unsure how to make best use of it.  We may follow your plan.  Did you have to book ahead for the Devil's throat train or just walk up and pay?  Did they go often?

Was there anything you didn't get to see that you wished you had seen?  Was it crowded?

When you took the boat ride (you have convinced me to just book it at the hotel), did you bring any special clothes?  dress in swim suits?  water shoes? I imagine the water felt good in the hot humid weather!

 

As we have a 2nd night - do you think it possible to go to the Brazilian side for a couple of hours?

 

Finally - it sounds like you did not book anything (no guides, boat trips, excursions) ahead of time.  This is good information.  We are fine and able to hike and walk around everywhere so what you did gave us encouragement.

 

Thank you again for your post.  When we travel I will post our experiences and pass it on.

Kent and Pam

California

 

Hello, you are in for quite the treat!  The airport transfer email sent from Sebatian Somma sebastian.somma@melia.com is at the very end of this post.

 

We needed Argentinian pesos for taxis, the airport to hotel transport, and other odds and ends. However, we were able to use our credit card for the park entry, hotel, restaurants, purchase of Adventura boat excursion, etc. You are not charged any VAT if you use a US credit card. Our hotel in BA converted $200 usd into Argentinian pesos as a courtesy. We returned with extra cash, so need for us to use an atm. 

 

Be sure to join the Melia club, then call the Melia to find out the member rate so you can adjust pricing. They willingly did this for us. To get into the park you just need to walk across the lawn on the other side of the pool until you reach a walkway. Be sure to bring a couple of bottles of water with you. There are signs that will let you know how to get to each of the paths. 

 

You just show up at the train station to go to Devil's Throat. No need for a reservation. Go to the booth to get tickets and wait for your boarding time that is usually around 15 minutes later, just enough time to get a snack from the store. The booth attendant gives out tickets in an effort to space out the numbers so go there before going into the snack store or using the restroom. I believe the train arrives/leaves every 15 mins. We visited in mid-Dec. I'd describe the park as busy. It was only crowded at Devil's Throat, but you just wait until the people in front of you get bored taking photos and then you take their spot. We had all the time we needed to get way more photos than we had planned to take.

 

Keep in mind we only had 1 night, but we are fast efficient walkers. We arrived at Melia around 1p and left the next day at 11am. We visited Devils Throat 1st thing, then walked all the paths that are part of the upper circuit. We were exhausted after a long day so spent the evening in the Melia infinity pool enjoying the falls in the distance. We decided to stay at the hotel for dinner. We booked the first boat trip of the day, so woke early to meet the tram. We wore our bathing suits under our clothes, as did most everyone else. They give you a bag you can use to try to keep your belongings dry. This works if you roll the top a few times. After a few photo ops you literally go right under one of the water falls (not the big Devils Throat falls , but one of the side falls). Every person on the boat gets drenched. It was lots of fun. You can buy a cd for $15usd but you need to be at the hotel to receive the cd later that day. We were checking out so couldn't get the cd. Note, it took longer than we anticipated for the tram to bring us to the boat, have the boat ride, then return to the park path. We were nervous about our flight so we skipped walking the lower circuit. We saw a couple of the viewing platforms as our boat made it's way down toward the falls anyway, so I don't think we missed anything. 

 

It obviously takes time to get to and from the Brazilian side. Some people report it taking up to an hour just to get through customs. For this reason many of the TAs we researched recommended going to the Brazil side 1st thing in the morning so you can travel to the Brazil side before the park is actually open. Some travelers choose to first visit the Argentina side, then fly home from Brazil instead of returning to BA for flights home. It's difficult for me to give an opinion since we didn't actually go to the Brazil side and I'm glad we didn't attempt this given our short stay. If we had been there for 2 nights then we would have gone to the other side the early morning after our 1st night. 

 

The only things we booked in advance were our flights, our night at Melia, and our airport transfers. Everything else we booked onsite. 

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear -----------:

 

                Thanks again for choosing us, we kindly write to provide important information for your stay; All Foreign Guests who stay less than 90 days in Argentina are Exempted of paying VAT 21% with an International Credit Card just for Accommodation.

 

The Iguazu National Park (Open only since 08.00 to 18.00 Hs without Exceptions) Entrance Fee costs ARS$600.00 per person once per stay accepting Cash in Argentinian Pesos only or Credit Cards, keep the Ticket until Check OUT

 

 

REMIS ECOLOGIA Company work inside the Iguazu National Park offering only Transfer Service paying by CASH: (It is a Private Vehicle with 4 People Places)

 

  • From or to IGR Airport costs ARS$700.00 per Trip. 
  • From IGR Airport  or Melia Iguazu to Brazilian Side of the Falls costs ARS$3200.00 with wait to have enough time for Excursions
  • From or to IGU Airport costs ARS$1800.00
  • From IGU Airport to Brazilian Side of the Falls Flight costs ARS$3500.00 with wait to have enough time for Excursions

 

A Driver wearing Black Pants and Dark Blue Short Leaves Shirt would be waiting at the Main Gate bearing a sign with your name and the Hotel logo, please pay him directly in CASH or Credit Cards: let us know your flights details to purchase it.

 

  • IMPORTANT: All prices may modify depends on each Company, Reservation Dates and Season.

 

We are available for any other requests.

 

Best regards

 

Sebastian Somma

Agente de Reservas

Meliá Iguazu

Parque Nacional Iguazu. 
Puerto Iguazu CP 3370 Misiones - Argentina

TEL 00 54 3757 491800 EXT 833

MELIA.COM 
facebook.com/MeliaHotelsInternational 
twitter.com/MeliaHotelsInt

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, teacherman said:

Thank you for the information.  We also have the Melia booked for 2 nights at the end of January after we disembark from HAL Zaandam.  We have booked our air already, but will probably book the driver through Melia.  Approximately how many steps are there UP from the boat ride, as we are a bit old to be climbing mountains?

 

There were 100 steps up from the boat. It was very easy going down, but took me a long time to get back up due to the hot and humid weather. I am a slow climber with knee problems and was worried about holding up my group. However, one of the guides told me the tram would leave when full and I could take the next tram. This made me feel better. When I made it to the top I was surprised to see several from our group waiting for restrooms, etc. so no need to worry about rushing up those steps, but yes it was not an easy climb.

Edited by kathynorth

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow - what a wonderful description of your activities and how you did it.  Thank you again!  Yes, the Melia was quite expensive and I did join the club but didn't see any special pricing on-line - so I will contact them.  Again, we are there 1st week of January during a full moon. 

We also are very fast walkers and hikers and so can see a lot - not worried about that!

That Infinity Pool certainly sounds good as well.  Given we'll be tired, I had also thought of just having dinner at the hotel.

I had also heard that getting into Brazil is lengthy so we may not do that at all.  We go back to Buenos Aires and spend several days visiting that fine city before flying back to San Francisco.

We certainly appreciate your taking the time to share all this information.

We'll be sure to post our experiences so others may benefit as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please keep in mind the above rates I posted were from Dec 2018 and may be different at this point in time. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, kathynorth said:

 

There were 100 steps up from the boat. It was very easy going down, but took me a long time to get back up due to the hot and humid weather. I am a slow climber with knee problems and was worried about holding up my group. However, one of the guides told me the tram would leave when full and I could take the next tram. This made me feel better. When I made it to the top I was surprised to see several from our group waiting for restrooms, etc. so no need to worry about rushing up those steps, but yes it was not an easy climb.

 

Good information to know!  Thank you again.  I had heard it gets quite humid (as expected!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, kathynorth said:

 

Be sure to join the Melia club, then call the Melia to find out the member rate so you can adjust pricing. They willingly did this for us.

 

Kathy -

Thank you - I looked at my emails and did find the exact same email from Sebastian at Melia regarding taking the airport transfer and it is the same rates (right now) as you had.  That's great that you did this and I think will make things more convenient.

 

Regarding the Melia club - did you know they had a member rate?   Did they adjust the pricing after you booked?  How much did you save?   Did you request any particular room(s) ?   Are some better than others?

Kent

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, CCWineLover said:

Kathy -

Thank you - I looked at my emails and did find the exact same email from Sebastian at Melia regarding taking the airport transfer and it is the same rates (right now) as you had.  That's great that you did this and I think will make things more convenient.

 

Regarding the Melia club - did you know they had a member rate?   Did they adjust the pricing after you booked?  How much did you save?   Did you request any particular room(s) ?   Are some better than others?

Kent

 

When I went to the website I saw a lower rate than I was able to book (we had a AAA rate). I called the 1-800 number to ask why my rate was higher and was told we should join Melia Rewards to get a lower rate. I went back to the website and joined (free to join), called the 1-800 number, gave them my rewards number and they adjusted my rate. As we checked in at Melia the clerk asked us if we wanted to upgrade our room to a falls view. I initially said no, but then he gave my DH a rate that was just a bit more than we were paying, so we upgraded. I can't recall the exact difference. IMHO the regular room would have been just fine since we spent the day at the falls and had the pool view, so we spent very little time in the room. Our falls room was nicely appointed and had a balcony. It would have been nice to sit out there with a glass of wine, but we didn't have any with us. 

Edited by kathynorth

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OT I suppose but person after person mentions Melia.  What's the deal with that?  We stayed on the Brazilian side all those years ago so irrelevant to us. Just curious

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is a beautiful hotel with amazing grounds and the dinner we had was excellent.

It is the old Sheraton.

The cruise line one day tour we took included dinner at the hotel so we were there for a few hours.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 9/10/2019 at 10:02 PM, clo said:

OT I suppose but person after person mentions Melia.  What's the deal with that?  We stayed on the Brazilian side all those years ago so irrelevant to us. Just curious

 

 

 

Melia is situated inside the park gates, meaning you can be at strategic viewing spots before the morning rush.  (Similar to why people book Disney hotels to be in the park when they open). Also, you can come and go from the park without paying multiple entry fees. During our original planning stages we were going to book one of the in town hotels and take the bus to the park. We added up the time it would take to wait for the bus, travel to the falls, then wait for the bus back, travel back to our hotel to pick up our belongings, then make it to the airport on time, and determined staying in town would cost us 3+ hrs of our very limited time. Staying at Melia allowed us efficient use of our time. If we were staying 2 nights then we would have stayed in town, but it made more sense for us to stay at Melia for a 1 night stay. Also, the hotel and restaurant were very nice. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, kathynorth said:

 

 

Melia is situated inside the park gates, meaning you can be at strategic viewing spots before the morning rush.  (Similar to why people book Disney hotels to be in the park when they open). Also, you can come and go from the park without paying multiple entry fees. During our original planning stages we were going to book one of the in town hotels and take the bus to the park. We added up the time it would take to wait for the bus, travel to the falls, then wait for the bus back, travel back to our hotel to pick up our belongings, then make it to the airport on time, and determined staying in town would cost us 3+ hrs of our very limited time. Staying at Melia allowed us efficient use of our time. If we were staying 2 nights then we would have stayed in town, but it made more sense for us to stay at Melia for a 1 night stay. Also, the hotel and restaurant were very nice. 

Thank you for confirming our logic!  That’s exactly what we plan to do on our visit this January.   You do have to examine how valuable your time is and the convenience factor.  A bonus hearing from you that the ready aura to was nice too!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, kathynorth said:

 

 

Melia is situated inside the park gates, meaning you can be at strategic viewing spots before the morning rush.  (Similar to why people book Disney hotels to be in the park when they open). Also, you can come and go from the park without paying multiple entry fees. During our original planning stages we were going to book one of the in town hotels and take the bus to the park. We added up the time it would take to wait for the bus, travel to the falls, then wait for the bus back, travel back to our hotel to pick up our belongings, then make it to the airport on time, and determined staying in town would cost us 3+ hrs of our very limited time. Staying at Melia allowed us efficient use of our time. If we were staying 2 nights then we would have stayed in town, but it made more sense for us to stay at Melia for a 1 night stay. Also, the hotel and restaurant were very nice. 

Thanks.  Glad I asked.  All those years ago we stayed at the Hotel de Cataratas on the Brazilian side right by the falls.  And it was great.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, clo said:

Thanks.  Glad I asked.  All those years ago we stayed at the Hotel de Cataratas on the Brazilian side right by the falls.  And it was great.  

 

Yes, similar scenario for the Brazil side. The Hotel das Cataratas is a Belmond property, located inside the park on the Brazil side. It's similarly priced to Melia. It's a beautiful hotel, but the big draw is the inside the park view of the falls, which is why this is a preferred hotel for those who head home via Brazil rather than Argentina. 

 

We visited Iguazu at the start of our trip and needed to return to BA. Some of our fellow cruisers planned a visit to Iguazu post cruise, so flew from BA to Iguazu, visited the Argentina side for a day, then went to the Brazil side and flew back to the US via Brazil airports. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Q&A with the Coral Expeditions Team
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...