I was fortunate to go on an Air New Zealand Brokers famil to Buenos Aires and Iguazu Falls (26 may - 2 June). To be fair we were on a whirlwind trip - 5 days - 3 nights in Buenos Aires and 2 in Iguazu.
Buenos Aires is a newish destination for Air New Zealand and as a destination or stopover for South American or Europe fares is a great option.
They say that Buenos Aires is the Paris of South America and where we stayed in Recoleta this was definitely the case. Think Park Lane/ Mayfair /5th Avenue and their Paris equivalent.
We stayed at the Intersur Hotel which is in a great location in Recoleta. Recoleta is a wealthy area and so there was good security and we happily wandered around at night to the restaurants nearby. There is a big supermarket 5 mins away and a fantastic wine shop minutes away.
That first night we all headed off (2 Blocks or so away from our hotel) to dinner at El Sanjuanino (there site doesn't appear to be in English so I have included the Time Out Version) . I had great Empanadas (I chose a selection) and every one enjoyed their meal - various meals ordered. We also discovered what was to be our favourite night cap place - La Biela.
Day 1 after arriving on the Dreamliner the night before, which is a great aircraft, we did a half day tour (good four hours) with our amazing guide Andrea of the local area. This included the cemetery where Eva Peron is buried (Cementerio de la Recoletta, Plaza San Martin, Alvear Avenue and generally the local area. A great tour led by an amazing guide.
There is a market on a Saturday just in front of La Biela and the other restaurants with out door seating in the area which sold art, handbags, crafts etc and we happily wandered around the stalls. It is also within walking distance to the stunning Floralis Generica. Libby had dragged me and Linda over the bridge to nowhere in search of the elusive flower which is actually massive! It definitely warrants a more close up view!
That evening we went to La Ventana Dinner and Tango Show . The dinner was amazing as was the show but I have to confess that I was so shattered, I struggled to keep my eyes open (no reflection of the show but a more my ability to cope with back to back trips with multiple time zones!)
The next day we flew out to Iguazu. (NB. and this is a biggie the baggage allowance whilst 1 piece is only 15kgs so most of us were over- travel agents never travel light!!)
We stayed at the Mercure Iru hotel which is a lovely, newish hotel surrounded by the jungle (think mosquito spray!!). That afternoon we headed into the local town which had lots of touristy shops (it was sunday so a lot of places were closed ) and instead of stopping at the first bar where most of the group did a few of us checked out the town and discovered the local area. A maze of local shops, restaurants and local drinking spots where we discovered the best olives ever, salami and cheeses and stumbled across what was to be our next nights restaurant.
We had a nice crack of dawn start (I'm never good at that time of day ) to do our full day tour of the Argentinian side of Iguzau falls with our guide Alex where we caught the train to Estacion Cataratas to Estacion Gargantawhere we walked along the 1200m trail to the most spectacular fall, Devils Throat (Garganta del Diablo). After lunch we did an 8 km truck ride through the rainforest and then onto our boatride to reach the bottom of San Martin, Bosetty, Tres Mosqueteros and Canon de Garganta del Diablo falls down the river and up to Puerto Macuco. (what seemed like right under the waterfall - amazing experience but expect to get wet). I recommend doing the trip in this order as getting as close to the falls whilst we were warned about getting wet and the need for ponchos, rain coats etc - nothing prepares you for this. I can see now why several of the people (young girls who could carry it off) on the boat came in bikinis despite the weather!!
Amazing experience and well worth getting wet for. As we ended up at the Sheraton Iguazu falls we did a site inspection there.
Several of the others did a helicopter ride over the falls from the Brazilian side and said it was amazing -Helisul. Alex generously offered to drive them.
My best photos videos are on Instagram -kiwitravelguru
Dinner for the group was at Lo De Ramona . Carlos who we had met the night before and his business partner (two great guys) were fantastic hosts. Normally they are closed on Monday but were open for us and we had the best pizza from their outdoor pizza oven, beautiful beef on individual mini barbeque spits and the most fantastic hospitality. We BYO'd wine that he organised with one of the other shops/stalls and it was a great night.
The next day (another crack of dawn start) we crossed the International bridge Trancredo Neves that joins the cities of Puerto Iguazu (Argentina) and Foz do Iguazu (brasil) for the half day tour of the Brazilian side of the falls with out guide Alex again.
We saw Rio Iguazu Canyon, Salta Rivadavia and Tres Mosqueteros before eventually getting to Devils Throat Lower View point 200m away . The tour ends at Salto Floriano where an elevator took us to the bus parking area to catch our flight back to Buenos Aires.
Again you are going to get wet with the spray so a poncho is a great option!
That evening we were collected from the hotel for our Argentinian Experience Evening which entailed making our own empanada's , enjoying the very best steak in Argentina, having the amazing dulce de leche for desert ,all matched with amazing Argentinian wine and got taught the history and etiquette of mate, Argentina's favourite pastime. A great night out and clearly some creative chefs amongst us when it came to preparing your own shaped empanada. The Kiwi shaped one won the competition!!
On our final day we travelled to Tigre Town through the various northern neighbourhoods, onto a catamaran ( sturla) to navigate the rivers and streams of the Parana River Delta, where we saw many amazing houses, weekend houses, clubs and amazing buildings before heading to the old fruit market , Puerto de Frutos, now full of what seems trendy furniture shops. If only we had more baggage allowance!
Many of the others went to do a graffiti/La Boca tour that afternoon and the photos were amazing but I had work to do and to be honest just needed some time out before flying out that evening. On Andrea's recommendation I did go around the corner (a couple of blocks) to buy a wrap from (Estilo Uru - she said it wasn't cheap but was the best!) They do leather as well as shawls etc...definitely not the cheapest but I was pretty happy with my only purchase.
Ideally we would have gone to Floreria Atlantico for dinner on the last night which is a florist by day but by going through the fridge door is a restaurant/ bar by night. The others didn't get back until 6pm and we had to leave to fly back at 9.30/10pm so too tight but it was came strongly recommended.
It was an amazing trip with a fantastic bunch of ladies...(colleagues) and I am grateful to Rebecca from Adventure World and for their land arrangements, our amazing guides, my great roomie, Libby who will be investing in some earplugs for the next rooming session, and of course Tracey from our support team who did a great job of managing a group of fun but strong minded (and not always crack of dawn start) women!!
Buenos Aires/ Argentina is a destination and not just a stopover so I hope you take the time to really enjoy it.