The transportation and activities mentioned in this post were NOT sponsored.
When I started planning out my trip I knew that I wanted to go Iguazu Falls. And looking at the map made me realise how painfully close Paraguay also lay in relation to Brazil & Argentina. Of course, me being me, I couldn’t bear being that close and not going in to at least have a peek (considering that South African passport holders don’t require a visa to enter Paraguay). But the dilemma was that well… there didn’t appear to be anything worth seeing nearby. Lots of websites talked about going shopping at Ciudad De Este but I don’t really enjoy shopping and didn’t want to cross the border to see MALLS. After all, I can see that in Dubai.
But with the lack of English information on the internet, it was only until a few days before I was scheduled to land in Foz De Iguazu (the Brazilian town nearest to Iguazu Falls) that I discovered Saltos Del Monday.
What is Santos Del Monday?
Literally translated as Monday’s Falls, these are a group of waterfalls in Paraguay. The viewing platform to these falls is what makes them great to visit as you can get really up close & personal to the falls.. Now anywhere else in the world and this would be a MAJOR tourist attraction. However, with the proximity to the mighty Iguazu Falls, this waterfall pales in comparison.
In this blog post I will outline exactly HOW I visited Saltos De Monday and clear up some of the confusing information on the internet. But first, a quick PPG (Panda’s Progressive Geography) lesson about Paraguay.
The original inhabitants of Paraguay were the indigenous tribes. Not content with their own countries, the first European explorers arrived in Paraguay in the 16th century. A Spanish explorer, established the capital city of Asuncion in 1537.
In 1811 Paraguay declared independence and expelled the Spanish government. Paraguay went on to be governed by three dictators during the first 60 years of independence including one who led them into a war against Uruguay, Brazil, and Argentina in 1865–1870; a conflict in which half the male population was killed.
A new, more democratic, constitution followed in June 1992. In an important break from the military, Paraguayans, in May 1993, elected Colorado Party candidate Juan Carlos Wasmosy as the first civilian president in nearly half a century. This party is still in power however, the president has since changed. In the last decade the country has showed rapid growth in the areas of steel, meat processing, organic sugar, and edible oils. The official languages are Spanish and Guarani (also the name of their currency which is indicated by the PYG abbreviation).
In case you’re wondering, the moment you step into Paraguay, you’re aware that you’re in a new country. The streets, buildings and atmosphere is completely different from its neighbours!
Getting to the Brazil- Paraguay Border
The lady at our hotel advised us not to do any sort of organised tour. She said Uber was the cheapest way and walking across the border was best due to high volumes of traffic. So off we went in our Uber who dropped us off 100m from the Brazilian exit point.
We tried asking an immigration official if we needed to stamp out of Brazil but my error was that I spoke to him in Portuguese and so he waved us along indicating that there was no need. It was only later on that I realised what confusion had taken place.
The problem is that the border between Brazil and Paraguay is open. While there are checkpoints to get stamped out and in, it isn’t mandatory for Brazilian citizens who walk right into Paraguay to do cheap shopping.
So we followed their suit and ended up not getting a stamp either. This wasn’t by choice, this was an accident on our part.
Once you’ve started walking towards Paraguay, you will amble along the Friendship Bridge for 500m. It’s an easy walk if you’re mobile and should take about 10-15 minutes. And before you know it- you’re in Paraguay. Again, because the border is open, there is no route that forces you into getting stamped into Paraguay. I only realised the whole stamp debacle once we were well and truly inside Paraguay and had passed the checkpoint long ago.
Grabbing a taxi to the falls
Once you enter Paraguay, you’ll notice the masses of shops, road stalls and PEOPLE everywhere. It’s chaotic and can be rather overwhelming coming from the serene environment of Brazil. This is the part where you’ll have to find a taxi (that’s easy to do as there are hundreds all over). Unfortunately the taxis aren’t metered so you’ll have to bargain for a price.
Remember that you’re no longer in a Portuguese speaking country so you’ll have to switch over to Spanish.
I recommend not paying anything over 35 US dollars. (While this may be expensive by local standards, it worked ou to 130AED Note that Paraguayans are hungry for U.S. dollars rather than their own currency which is weak in comparison. Our taxi driver (chosen at random from the side of the street using Google Translate) agreed to wait with us and bring us back to the border as there were no taxis in the vicinity of the falls.
Visiting the falls
It’s a 20 minute ride to the falls from Ciudad Del Este (the border town). Once you reach there, you can pay your entrance fee in the local currency, guaranties, or U.S. dollars or even Brazilian Reails.
We paid 34,000PYG per person which is roughly 5 U.S. dollars.
Our taxi driver came in with us for free. The falls are majestic and well worth spending an hour at. If you have had forethought you could picnic in the gardens (we didn’t obviously because we hadn’t a clue what to expect.
There is an additional charge to go to the bottom level which was 20,000PYG. It’s not much money so I went to have a look see; you feel as though you are inside the falls!
Making our way back to Brazil
After we wrapped up our time at Saltos Del Monday, our taxi driver dropped us back near the border and we did the walk back into Brazil along the bridge. I was slightly nervous about someone on the Brazilian side asking why we never stamped out or into Paraguay but no one even gave me a second glance never mind asked to see my passport. I re-entered Brazil again and wondered why we even have ‘borders’ when free travel can be so stress free.
This makes for a leisurely way to have a small adventure if you have a spare day while on the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls. The Brazilian exit point is only a 15 minute drive away from the main town so its all pretty convenient.
Remember though that if you are on the Argentinian side, you will need to exit Argentina and enter Brazil (NOT an open border so you’ll need to have the appropriate visas and space in your passport) and then you can make your way to the bridge to cross the border into Paraguay.
WHERE DO I FLY INTO TO?
You can fly into Foz do Iguaçu/Cataratas International Airport (IGU) if you want to visit Saltos Del Monday.
HOW LONG SHOULD I GO FOR?
You need one morning (around 3 hours) to comfortably visit Saltos Del Monday.
SHOULD I PURCHASE A SIM CARD?
No but if you don’t speak Spanish, make sure Spanish is downloaded onto your Google Translate app so it can be used offline.
DID YOU APPLY FOR A VISA?
No. both Brazil & Paraguay are visa-free for South African passport holders.
SHOULD I CARRY U.S. DOLLARS?
If you have some, they can be used to visit Saltos Del Monday! However, local currency and Brazilian Reais is also accepted.
Have you been to Paraguay? Or would you consider doing a day trip from Brazil? Let me know in the comments below!