007 ain’t got nuthin’ on me…How to get from Iguazu Falls to Foz de Iguacu without a visa!

Important note : The following post depicts purely imaginary events that could have happened at some place in time. Any resemblance to actual events, whether real or imagined is purely coincidental. By reading and replicating the imaginary events described, you absolve the author of any possible responsibility.

I woke up quite early and headed to the gym to work out – I tried calling David in the next room but no answer. After the usual workout, I saw the guide advertising tours and events on the Foz de Iguacu. Naturally, I was interested especially since I wanted to see the Brazilian side of the falls, but I did not have a Brazilian visa, as I didn’t want to spend 70$ USD just for a visa to see the falls and I didn’t have the time prior to leaving Toronto to walk to the Brazilian embassy to get the visa. If I had my Trinidadian passport, I would not have needed a visa to get to that side of the falls. Probably, the only time in my life where a Trinidadian passport would have been more useful than a Canadian passport.

So in two minutes, I made the decision to get to Brazil by any means necessary and I probed the guide for answers to my questions.

Question #1 : Can a Canadian get to the Brazilian side without a visa?
Guide : Canadians cannot, Trinis can!
My response :  #@#@#!@$#$#

Question #2: What if I have my Trini dual citizenship stamp in my cancelled old passport.
Guide : Let me call the consulate….. 3 mins later…..it is still a Canadian passport. See question#1
My response : $!$!$!$$$!$$@@

Question #3 : Is there anyway that you know of to get there without a valid Brazilian visa
Guide : NO! I cannot help you!
My response : Oh please kind sir, it would make my vacation, if you could help out a poor Canadian student out.
Guide : Mr Sankar, you’re staying in Room 370, which is the best room in the hotel. I have never seen a poor student in this hotel before.
My response: So does that mean, you’re not willing to help me?
Guide : (Sighs and rolls his eyes, but pauses and…….) A fact I can give you is that there are some taxi drivers who have Brazilian friends and are able to pass through the border without being checked, also I heard that the Brazilian border police does not check all buses going back and forth.
My response : I need to get breakfast!
Guide : I can call the Sheraton driver to get you to the Brazilian consulate. (It’s 9.35am, it takes 20 mins to get from the Sheraton to Puerto Iguazu and I need to get pictures and the consulate only processes visa from 7am-10am, no exceptions!!)
My response: Ok! Sure!

What transpired next, is a bit beyond me, but I made my mind up to get across and no little border and international agreement and politics was going to get in my way of seeing the Brazilian side.

We got to the Brazilian consulate…we were late by 2 mins, the Brazilian guard shut me down, shut the driver down and shut his face. End of story! I tried doing the right thing and it didn’t get me anywhere. Here are the steps I discovered on how any unnamed person could go to the Brazilian side.

Going from Iguazu Falls to Foz de Iguacu

Take the “El Practico” bus from your hotel in Puerto Iguazu or the Sheraton to the Puerto Iguazu bus terminal. The “El Practico” is 5 pesos and everyone takes this bus.
Once you get to the Puerto Iguazu bus station, then look for Gate 7. All the bus companies that service the Iguazu Falls to Foz de Iguacu route leave from this gate. It costs another 5 pesos (seriously)
The bus will cross the river, and reach border control. You have to leave the bus and go through Argentinian customs to get an Exit stamp (SALIDA), this is easy and takes 3-5 mins and then you reboard the bus.
Note that there is NO secondary entrance check on the Brazilian side. This is a key point!
Continue on the bus, till there is a fork in the road. Your choices are either to get off the bus at the fork or continue towards the town of Foz de Iguacu – it is important to continue on that path, till you see the Bourbon Cataratas Convention Resort. Get off in front the hotel.
Cross the street, so that you are going the opposite direction. You are now looking for a GREY commuter bus. When boarding, ask for ‘Cateratas just to make sure.

From Foz do Iguaçu buses run every half hour from the bus terminal to the visitor’s centre at the national park entrance, passing many of the main hotels in the city along the way. The face is R$2.20 or 5.5 pesos. From Foz do Iguaçu buses run every half hour from the bus terminal to the visitor’s centre at the national park entrance, passing many of the main hotels in the city along the way. The R$2.20 flat fare makes the bus a very cheap way to visit the falls and it’s also easy to use.
Once you’re at the falls visitor center….do your thing and go see some falls.

Going from Foz de Iguacu to Puerto Iguazu then the Sheraton

Reversing everything you just did, should be fine with one critical difference.
Get the grey bus from the falls back into town.
Stop off again at the Bourbon Cataratas Convention Resort.
Cross the street, so that you are going the opposite direction. You are now looking for shuttle bus between Iguazu Falls and Foz de Iguacu. Look for the sign in front the bus, it should say “Iguazu Falls/Foz de Iguacu”
Continue on this bus. At Brazilian customs, the bus driver will ask everyone who needs to go to immigration to head out, meaning “if you don’t need immigration, because you are Brazilian” then stay on the bus. Hence stay on the bus! Going to Brazilian customs without an entry stamp or a visa if you are Canadian will result in a series of unpleasant experiences. (I’m only guessing here).  Basically, stay on the bus.
The bus will then stop at Argentine customs. At this point, you must get out of the bus, since you have exit stamp, you need a new entry stamp, else when your flight out of the country back to Canada is ready, you might find that Argentine customs might have questions.
Do not overthink the situation, the Argentines really could not give a damn about whether you have or had a Brazilian visa, but they do care that you have an Argentine entry stamp.
Line up, get your stamp.
Get to the Puerto Iguazu bus station
Take the “El Practico” bus from the Puerto Iguazu bus terminal to your hotel in Puerto Iguazu or the Sheraton. The “El Practico” is another 5 pesos.

Total trip cost

5 pesos + 5 pesos + 5.5 peso + 5.5 pesos + 5 pesos + 5 pesos = 31 pesos
Cost of 3 month Brazilian visa = 273 pesos

End result:
Take savings and buy the following:

Bowl of Spaghetti Bolognese with bread
8 empanadas carne
1 bottle of sprite in a glass bottle
A new backpack for your massive stones! 😀

Anyway, hope this imaginary account of something that could have happened will be useful.

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at rishi@rishiray.com

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