You can not help feeling that a trip to Brazil is somehow not quite complete without a trip in to the jungle. It is however very easy to be put off by the daunting prospect of a five hour flight to and from the usual hub of Manaus and the subsequent travel in to the rainforest lodges. A perfect alternative is to avoid the Manaus ‘problem’ and to stay at the delightful Yakutinga a couple of hours flight from Rio/Sao Paolo and en route to Buenos Aires.
The location is actually a few miles over the Brazilian in to Argentina border and also just a short drive from the incomparable Iguazu falls where an extra night is needed to enjoy the spectacular show of water that tumbles south over hundreds of smaller cascades and in to Argentina. The lodge is located in the rainforest of the Selva Misonera and close to the banks of the Rio Iguazu. It has its own 460 hectare nature reserve that itself lies within a huge protected ‘Atlantic Forest’ National Park that straddles the national borders. Don’t however expect a faceless luxury hotel plonked down in the jungle – Yakutinga is much more than that. It is firstly an essential part of a wider conservation ideal – owned by local people the Yacutinga Project supports the local community and environment and adheres to strict criteria of sustainability and ecological husbandry. The Lodge merges beautifully into its forest environment. The central lodge with its huge timber beams and rustic open plan layout is decorated with colourful local fabrics and handicrafts. Lush tropical plants tumble around you – both here ‘indoors’ as well as along the gently illuminated pathways that lead to the four-unit lodges scattered through the jungle. Rooms are delightful and traditional and whilst not luxurious are very comfortable and totally charming. Dining too is a delight. The healthy and well presented organic meals are included in the accommodation packages and wherever possible utilise products grown by the local community. The small size of the hotel and cosy communal areas also makes the whole dining experience more a communal experience shared by a group of friends than a typical impersonal hotel stay. The Lodge’s own guided forest and river tours are accompanied by the local Guaraní tribesmen – as well as by hugely knowledgable bilingual guides who help make sense of all that is around you. There are resident biologists to provide scientific expertise combined with insights combined into hunting, fishing and medicinal plants. Take a wondrous boat trip down river and find caiman or explore the forest and spot birds from the treetop platform. At dusk, sit round the fire with a beer, before tucking into a delicious organic dinner lit by torches. To wrap up the day’s nature-watching there is one last visit to make on the way back to your cabin that is perhaps dependant upon your interest in wildlife of the six-legged variety. Erected in the grounds is a large white-painted wall; brightly illuminated it acts as an irresistible magnet for all kinds of exotic and strange forest insects. We recommend the two night ‘Yakutinga Experience’ package that includes a rainforest tour, river trip and full board although there are longer stays such as a four day ‘Birds of the Jungle’ trip if you wish. Yakutinga Lodge Prices are from about £250 ($450) per person per night including meals, excursions and return transfers from Puerto Iguazú). For further information please visit: www.yacutinga.com.
All images by CELLOPHANELAND*