Iguazu Falls day trip from B.A.

Iguazu Falls, located on the Argentine–Brazilian border 650 miles north of Buenos Aires, are the widest waterfalls in the world and are widely recognized as one of the 10 most spectacular. In April ’06, a month before my wife, Paula, and I were scheduled to leave for a one-week visit to Buenos Aires, we decided not to miss the opportunity to see these remote waterfalls.

Itineraries for trips that include both Argentina and Brazil often include an overnight stay (usually at an expensive but conveniently located hotel) near the waterfalls for those traveling between the two countries. In addition, several tour companies offer overnight trips from Buenos Aires.

Due to the brief duration of our vacation, we needed a day trip rather than an overnight trip. We are independent travelers, so our first choice was to make our own arrangements. It looked like we could use taxis for transportation once we arrived at Iguazu, but first we had to get there.

Due to its distance from Buenos Aires, we would have to fly. However, finding an appropriate day with both an early flight out of Buenos Aires and a late return flight from Iguazu eluded me. At this point, I decided to consider a package tour.

After a week of searching through guidebooks and the Internet without success, I e-mailed several tour companies asking if they offered (or would arrange) a day trip to Iguazu from Buenos Aires. All responded that they would only provide overnight trips.

Rereading my Lonely Planet guidebooks, I found a reference to WOW! Argentina (Av. Santa Fe 882, C1059ABP, Buenos Aires, Argentina; phone +54 11 52 39 30 19, fax 54 11 52 39 17 14 or visit www.wowargentina.com), a travel consultancy firm located in Buenos Aires. I sent them an e-mail in a final effort to get to Iguazu, and Cintia promptly responded with information about her company and about visiting Iguazu Falls.

Their usual tour included a 2-night stay at Iguazu, but she offered to arrange a day trip for us. We exchanged several e-mails to clarify our expectations and options before she finalized the arrangements.

Just a week before we left home, she was able to book us good seats on an 8 a.m. flight out of Buenos Aires’ Aeroparque Jorge Newberry with LAN Argentina and on a return flight at 5 p.m. with Aerolineas Argentinas departing Puerto Iguazu. She was able to get the tickets for $196 each, which was at least $25 per ticket less than what I had found when searching on my own.

The tour arrangements included private transfers between Iguazu airport and Iguazu National Park, admission fees, a private tour of the falls with an English-speaking guide, written tips, a map of Iguazu National Park, and WOW! Argentina’s 24/7 assistance (she provided us with her personal cell phone number).
The total price for the two of us, including airfare, was 1,980 pesos (about US$652).

Cintia, who speaks excellent English, met us at our hotel during our first morning in Buenos Aires. She gave us our tickets and an information package and answered all of our questions. None of the previous travel providers whom I’ve worked with over the years provided more complete, clear, detailed and useful information than Cintia did.

The tour itself was excellent. As promised, we were met at the Iguazu airport by our guide and driver. Our guide was experienced, knowledgeable and flexible. She ably and successfully dealt with an unexpected problem that could have ruined our trip. Cintia (or someone else at WOW! Argentina) called our tour guide on her cell phone around midday to check on how we were doing.

Our flights (about an hour and 45 minutes each) were a reminder of the good old days in the U.S. when you were served complimentary meals and drinks (including beer and wine), even on short domestic flights. By the end of the day we had gotten the tour we wanted and were very pleased with our choice of WOW! Argentina.

Charlotte, NC