Being in Brazil to enjoy the World Cup or watching from the comfort of your own home is one thing, but, enjoying a guided holiday across South America is a whole new experience.
I enjoyed a guided holiday across South America in December 2014 and it’s now a firm favourite of mine and a destination that I expect to visit again and again. It’s really not like me to want to visit the same destination twice – but South America has become the exception to the rule.
The opportunity to explore and appreciate the customs, the food, the history and the way of life of the people from Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Easter Island was made all the more memorable through Trafalgar’s ‘insider experience’.
For this year’s World Cup, Brazil has put its best foot forward with the glistening beaches of Ipanema and the multi-million dollar soccer stadiums. Yet nestled in the hills above Rio de Janeiro, a different dimension of Brazil languishes, the Favelas. Even here the game of soccer has a place. Right in the middle of the Favela there is an open space dedicated to the game.
After a wonderful experience of Rio’s hidden treasure – the Favelas – we jetted off to Iguassu. Having every detail of our journey between Rio and Iguassu taken care of we were stress free and ready to explore this beautiful property with several small swimming pools and Jacuzzi in between the rooms. The walk to the main reception and the dining rooms was intriguing as we listened to the sounds coming from the surrounding dense bush.
The main event here is of course a visit to the “big waters’. Iguaçu in the Guarania language is “big water”, a Unesco World Heritage site and has been shared since 1984 between Brazil and Argentina. And luckily we were able to explore the falls from both sides.
Our first vista of this magnificent natural wonder was from the Brazilian side. I’m not sure why I expected the view to be different from the other side – I have been asked so many times “which side is best?”… Now I know! After a short drive to the entrance of the Parque National do Iguaçu, we took a short bus ride through the national park to the Falls.
My first sighting was nothing less than spectacular. From the very first cataract and they only get better and more impressive as you walk along the path of the many interlinking cataracts (there are a total of around 275). The Falls are completely surrounded by nature reserves and as we walked we enjoyed seeing birds, butterflies and other wild life such as the Coati and Capuchin monkeys.
The snaking walkway gave us multiple close-up views of the cascading falls and the misty spray left us soaked – what a pleasure in the heat of the day as we quickly dried off in the sun.
We opted to indulge in a power boat ride to get a closer look. As we skimmed the very foot of the Falls we got drenched by a passing boat, much to the amusement of their passengers. But our drenching was rewarded with a wonderful sighting of a family of capybaras right at the water’s edge. Our boat afforded us the vantage point of getting close without disturbing these strange looking and unfamiliar creatures. The capybara is the largest rodent in the world, followed by the beaver and porcupine. Its closest relatives are guinea pigs and rock cavies, and it is more distantly related to the agouti, chinchillas, and the coypu.
The pace of the ‘At Leisure’ style of Trafalgar holiday is perfect, giving us lots of time to make some of our own choices of how we wanted to spend our time. The mix of enjoying the natural wonders, having some ‘wild fun’ on the boats and then relaxing around the pool at our resort hotel is the perfect recipe for a ‘well done’ holiday especially with the
choice of restaurants within the resort. For our free night for dinner we decided on Japanese sushi which was delicious. It’s amazing to think that there are more Japanese tourists in South America than in any other country – which explains why we found a Sushi restaurant in the resort.
We moved on to experience the Iguassu Falls from the Argentinian side and I can only commend Trafalgar for the fantastic organisational skills and supreme diplomacy. There were flights, trains and border crossing to navigate and to the unseasoned traveller this would have presented more than a headache. Thankfully we had the best in the business taking us through this experience.
After taking the busy mini train, Tren Ecologico de la Selvawe, we arrived at the highlight of the Falls – Estacion Garganta del Diablo – the Devils Throat station. The two greatest sights were Devils Throat and Salto Dan Martin. As we strolled along drinking in the sights we experienced the thunderous roar of the falls and were soaked – once again – by the spray of the cataracts.
What a magnificent stop – I’m pleased that I can now tick these two impressive and ‘largest in the world’ waterfalls on my “bucket list”!
So which view is best?
There is no way to make this choice as both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides are equally impressive.
At Naipi Spot Panoramic elevators and ramps, available especially for people with physical limitations so that they can also view Devil’s Throat was an absolute plus.
The resting and contemplation spot called ‘Porto Canoas’ has great facilities including a bar, restaurant, restrooms and bus boarding platform.
The Macuco Trail, the longest, is around 7km that leads to the fall called Arrechea, which forms a natural pool beneath it.
After being sprayed with water and having our fill of superb ‘wow’ moments it was time to leave the mighty Iguassu Falls behind us as we began the next part of our journey… Buenos Aires.