In search of Iguassu
South America is a continent which has always intrigued me and my first trip there took place at a time before marriage and children. I didn’t have any friends that wanted to join me so I chose to do a small group adventure instead.
The journey started in Buenos Aires, and I spent an extra night there before the tour departed so I could have some more time exploring on my own. I stayed very central, so Plaza de Mayo with Casa Rosada (where on the weekends you can take a guided tour and wave from the balcony like Evita did), the Capital Building and the shopping street Florida were all within walking distance.
The next day I met two lovely ladies from Australia who were on the same tour as me, and we took a taxi around the city and saw La Boca (food, colour and Tango), the cemetery in Recoleta & San Telmo; Buenos Aires' oldest neighbourhood.
That evening, it was time to meet everyone else in the group that consisted of 12 travellers from 8 countries plus our awesome guide from Peru, Monica. You can’t leave Argentina without visiting an Argentinian BBQ restaurant and that’s what we did that evening.
From Buenos Aires, we took the ferry across the Rio de la Plata to Colonia in Uruguay. The old town is gorgeous with small old houses, shops, restaurants and cobble-stoned streets to wander around & get lost. We took the opportunity and went horseback riding on the beach too which was fab!
We continued to Montevideo where we stayed in the old town, and on one of the days, took the bus to Punta del Este to spend the day on the beach.
After our relaxing day at the seaside, it was time to say goodbye to Uruguay, head back to Buenos Aires on the ferry, and take the night bus to Iguassu Falls. The buses in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil all have a very high standard, so don’t be afraid to use them if you are not limited by time.
To explore these amazing waterfalls properly, you need to spend at least 2 nights here so can see & visit the falls from both the Argentinian and Brazilian side. If a helicopter ride is on your bucket list, then I highly recommend you do it here. There’s also a bird park where you can see the Toucan as well as a lot of other tropical birds. If you want to be entertained in the evening, there’s a restaurant on the Brazilian side where you can go for a buffet dinner & show.
From Iguassu Falls we continued into Brazil and stopped in Curitiba - a city most people don’t go to. Back then it wasn’t very highly ranked by Lonely Planet as far as I remember – but I loved it!! There was a great hop-on-hop-off bus that we went around the city on, and the place had a lovely feel to it. Checking Lonely Planet today, they rank Curitiba higher than they did then, so maybe you should stop here too!
From Curitiba we continued to paradise, Paraty and Ilha Grande. I remember thinking that Colonia was hard to beat, but Paraty did just that! The houses were more colourful, and there were a lot more cafes, bars and restaurants. Then there was the archipelago with islands and turquoise water…absolutely stunning!!! We spent a whole day on a boat cruising around the islands, stopping to explore beaches and going for swims. There was food and drinks on the boat and two guys played Brazilian music.
Ilha Grande was just as nice, but different - no motorised vehicles are allowed, so it’s very peaceful. And there are plenty of walking tracks to explore the rainforest, beaches and waterfalls. We went on another boat trip where be brought our own food and drinks. The crew cooked it all up for us while we were swimming and enjoying some of the 100 beaches. In one of the little bays where we stopped, an old man came in his rowing boat & selling ice cream!
Last stop on the trip, Rio de Janeiro. First thing we did on arrival was head up to Sugarloaf Mountain to see Rio by night. Then we went to Copacabana and had Caipirinha’s and fresh coconuts by the beach.
I spent some extra days in Rio so had time to see Corcovado with Cristo Redentor, Ipanema and Santa Theresa.
Another thing I did, which surprised me since I’m not an adrenalin junkie at all, was hang gliding – and it was awesome!
Going on a small group adventure was great for me - I made wonderful friends with the other people on the tour, and many of them I have met on travels since.
A few years after this trip it was time to visit South America again - this time with my fiancée (now husband)! We went to Santiago first and did some exploring before doing a small group adventure in Peru (but that’s another story for another day). We then went on independently and pretty much did the same as my original trip - Rio, Iguassu Falls, Montevideo, Colonia and Buenos Aires, but we skipped paradise this time.
Regardless what your travel style is, if you’re intrigued by South America know that there are a lot of ways to get around. From backpacker style tours to deluxe independent packages that allow you to choose where to go & stay (3 star family run hotels, heritage boutique, 5* luxury etc), there is something for everyone. So whatever your plans, we can tailor a trip that's especially for you!