A visit to the amazing Iguassu (or Iguazu) Falls, located on the Brazil/Argentina border is an essential part of any visit to either. Indeed it is also a perfect stopping off point on any itinerary that includes both counties, located as it is almost half way between Rio and Buenos Aires.
The choice of hotel at the falls for a discerning traveller is usually presented as a straight choice between the Sheraton on the Argentinian side, and the Belmond on the Brazilian. Whilst it is true the Sheraton does have more of the park and trails as well as marginally the most scenic views, this is less of an issue than it appears given that any visit should always incorporate plenty of time on both sides of the border.
As for hotel selection there is little argument. Does anyone really prefer the relatively soulless Sheraton when the alternative is the glorious, ice-pink historic gem that is the Belmond? Not us for sure.
The Belmond Hotel das Cataratas, to give it it’s full moniker, is actually the only hotel located within the Iguassu National Park, and it is just a short stroll to the sensational waterfalls. Guests also enjoy the privilege of exclusive access to the Brazilian side of the falls – both evening and dawn – when the park is closed to other visitors.
With a recent renovation that refurbished and enhanced the Portuguese colonial hotel, it’s easy to imagine oneself slipping comfortably into the hotel’s colourful past. The teak verandah overlooking the lawns is a perfect spot for a lazy day sipping caipirinhas. Overlooking sub-tropical palms whilst watching bright tropical birds, butterflies and humming birds, time would surely drift by in a warm tropical haze.
The steady drumming of the falls nearby does however remind you of the main reason for visiting and there is of course plenty in the way of sightseeing available right from the door. Ancillary activities have also gained a foothold in the area and for those thus inclined, it is hard not to be tempted by offerings like white water rafting, helicopter trips over the gorge, and jungle treks.
Back at the hotel, rooms are decorated in a classic Portuguese style, with colourful accents, dark-wood furnishings and beautiful teak floors. Each features paintings of the local flora and fauna by Brazilian artist Ludmilla de Montes and traditional azulejos (painted tiles) designed exclusively for the hotel. Some rooms offer views of the falls.
There is a pretty good spa too, with treatments that incorporate an array of responsibly harvested ingredients sourced directly from the local rain forests.
Brazilian life is naturally oriented towards the outdoors, and the focus here is no different with the various verandahs undoubtedly the most desirable spots throughout the day.
In the morning grab a seat adjacent to the pool where the Ipe Grill serves an excellent breakfast or a casual lunch, whilst before dinner the terrace at Bar Tarobá cooling caipirinha is of course de rigeur whilst watching the sunset over the magnificent falls.
After dark, the ‘gaucho’ style barbecue is suitably Brazilian and of course very, very meaty. Most of the year you can again take a seat out on the verandah and dine in glorious natural surroundings, overlooking the lush hotel grounds that stretch all the way to the falls. Incidentally, for less meaty fare, the fine dining Itaipu Restaurant meanwhile offers a somewhat less bloody selection of Brazilian-international dishes.
It is then back out to the verandah again later in the evening for the nightly live music until eleven. This is surprisingly early by Brazilian standards – but then again an early night is just what is required if you want to be down at the falls for the sunrise.
We highly recommend combining a visit to Iguassu with a break at the Yacutinga Lodge. Located just over the border in the Argentinian rainforest, it was previously reviewed on CELLOPHANELAND* here
For more information visit www.belmond.com
CELLOPHANELAND* were guests of the Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas.