As we cross the border from Brazil into Argentina, we switch our token ‘Obrigado’s’ for cheerful ‘Gracias!’ – about the extent of our local lingo knowledge. Thankfully when staying at Awasi, you’re appointed with your own 4WD and expert guide for the duration of your trip, so despite not really having our bearings, we’re whizzed through passport control and on to our jungle lodge for the next couple of nights.
Situated on the banks of the River Iguazú, surrounded by protected Atlantic Rainforest, the main lodge eventually comes into view – and with it a friendly face, offering us welcome drinks and hot flannels, which we gratefully accept as the midday sun beats down on us. Our charming guide gives us a few suggestions as to what we could get up to whilst we’re here. However, these are just suggestions. There are no set times or activities to adhere to, your guide will cater to your every whim, coming up with a completely unique itinerary based on your energy levels. Having said that, it’s obviously the nearby Iguazu Falls that are the main draw and will be the focus for us. After a hearty Argentinian lunch of flank steak with chimichurri, we spend our first afternoon taking it easy and making the most of our luxurious treehouse.
Artfully decorated in neutral shades, our open plan abode is a delight with anatomical botanical art lining the walls and atmospheric lighting setting the mood. Despite being palatial in size, it’s the huge windows which have the most impact, ensuring views of the jungle are never far away, whether that’s from the bath, shower room or giant bed. A masseuse dream team arrives after a while, setting up beds in our living space so that Andy and I can enjoy a synchronised massage without even leaving the room. Once they’ve packed up and left us to it, we simply spend the next few hours out on our private terrace appreciating the local fawn and fauna and all the wonderfully exotic noises which come from within.
The only thing that drags us away from our plunge pool is the promise of a champagne boat trip. Not quite the booze cruise of our youth, the pleasant excursion takes us to where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet. Not much to look at perhaps, but a great excuse to boast of visiting all three countries in one day. The onboard picnic keeps us going until dinner, where a daily changing menu is paired with exquisite Argentinian wine by Awasi’s resident sommelier. Whether you choose to sit inside the air-conditioned main lodge or outside on the terrace – each place setting has an adorable wooden animal, carved by the local Guaraní tribes. Evening entertainment takes the form of Dogs & Jaguars – a strategy game similar to chess but with much cuter pieces – which is helpfully explained to us by one of the enthusiastic waiting staff. After a 2-0 defeat, Andy announces it’s time for bed. We tipsily make our way down the winding path back to our lodge where we find the tiniest frog is waiting for us on our pillow. After Andy successfully catches our new friend and gently leaves it outside our front door (whilst I unhelpfully try to take photos) we fall asleep feeling far, far away from the rat race.
We’re up early – as jungle VIPs we have early access to the park meaning we can beat the crowds and get the best views of the falls. Following a path which allows us to see the falls from all angles, we bump into a gang of coatis (similar to the racoon) going for their morning stroll. Once they realise we have nothing to feed them they leave us behind, with the baby of the group struggling to keep up.
Flagrantly defying 90’s girl band TLC we continue our waterfall quest via speedboat, this time getting drenched under a section of the gushing water. Our guide is waiting for us – with cold drinks, delicious homemade cookies and fresh fruit which are pressed upon us at every opportunity.
However, lunch awaits us back at base (and with it, a dry change of clothes!). A speciality from nearby Paraguay, we tuck into an insanely delicious corn and cheese soufflé, which despite the generous portion size, I’d happily have gobbled up again for main. It’s a good job I didn’t though, as then I wouldn’t have tried the pan-fried Pacu – a pleasingly meaty local river fish.
There’s much debate as to which country is the ‘best’ one to witness the falls from, with locals explaining that from the Brazilian side you can ‘take’ the picture, whilst from the Argentinian side you’re ‘in’ the photo. So that afternoon we return to the Devil’s Throat (the most impressive stretch of thunderous water, accessible via footbridge) for our photo call where a rainbow has made an appearance especially for us.
Having walked around the falls, driven under the falls and taken approx. 6000 photos of the falls, we spend our last night sipping cocktails from the hanging egg seats on the deck. Suddenly we’re presented with a wax sealed envelope – the bill, so soon? No, it turns out the chef has taken the liberty of preparing a surprise seven course tasting menu for us, with the only clue as to what was ahead, a string of emojis. A keen Instagrammer, this is a game I can get on board with, although a quick scan confirms the absence of the aubergine. Phew.
Feeling utterly spoilt, it suddenly occurs to me why each stay comes with a car and a guide – perhaps it’s to ensure we actually make it back on the plane home. So much more than a hotel, from start to finish a stay at Awasi – whether that’s in Argentina, Patagonia or in Chile’s Atacama Dessert – is an experience not to be missed.
Book your stay at Awazi Iguazú with Mr & Mrs Smith Hotels: mrandmrssmith.com/luxury-hotels/awasi-iguazu