At the confluence of the Paraná and the Iguazú Rivers, Puerto Iguazú lives partly from a thriving tourist trade, thanks to its proximity to the famous Iguazú Falls. Visitors from all over the globe pass through or stay in town, though fewer cross the border to Brazil’s own national park and the city of Foz do Iguaçu than in the past because of Brazil’s punitive visa fees.
As part of the Tres Fronteras (Three Borders) area that includes Foz and the Paraguayan city of Ciudad del Este, Puerto Iguazú has a dark side as well; on the entire continent, Tres Fronteras’ only challenger in corruption is the tripartite Amazonian border of Brazil, Colombia, and Perú.
Here, linked by bridges, residents of the three countries pass freely, sustaining plenty of legitimate commerce, but at more furtive crossings, they move contraband weapons, drugs, and money. Money is a particularly contentious point, as Brazil- and Paraguay-based merchants of Middle Eastern origins reportedly have financial links to groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, though there have been no terrorist incidents here.
This does not mean Puerto Iguazú is unsafe—most travelers consider it positively placid. Foz, though, has serious street-crime problems.
Puerto Iguazú (pop. about 60,000) is about 300 kilometers northeast of Posadas via RN 12, a paved toll road that’s gradually being widened; it is 1,287 kilometers north of Buenos Aires. Because of widespread smuggling, there are thorough Gendarmería (Border Guard) inspections about 30 kilometers south of town.
Getting to Puerto Iguazú
Aerolíneas Argentinas (Avenida Victoria Aguirre 295, tel. 03757/42-0237) flies several times daily to Aeroparque (Buenos Aires), but no longer operates international flights from here. LAN (tel. 03757/42-4296) also flies to Aeroparque; its local representative is Turismo Dick (Avenida Victoria Aguirre 379, tel. 03757/42-0380).
Andes Líneas Aéreas (Avenida Victoria Aguirre 279, tel. 03757/42-5566) now flies Monday and Friday to Salta and Córdoba, making it possible to reach the Andean northwest without backtracking to Buenos Aires.
Puerto Iguazú’s Terminal de Ómnibus (Avenida Córdoba and Avenida Misiones, tel. 03757/42-3006) has long-distance services throughout Argentina and is also the terminal for local buses to Foz do Iguaçu (Brazil) and Ciudad del Este (Paraguay).
Sample destinations, times, and fares include Posadas (4.5 hours, US$12), Corrientes (9 hours, US$29), Resistencia (9.5 hours, US$31), Buenos Aires (16 hours, US$52–84), and Salta (23 hours, US$65–75).
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition