This review is Part II of my nine weeks in South America and like all my Group Travel reviews it’s about the nuts and bolts. There are plenty of blogs that have exquisite photos and details of each step of a trip. I like to focus more on the who, what, where, how and when. I also don’t make any assumptions that you’ve read my other posts so each one stands on its own merits. So here goes……
When I started this trip, I had already completed an Intrepid Trip called Peru Encompassed which you can view online here. All of my Peru travelling companions departed in Lima onto other adventures whereas I continued on to Argentina and Brazil. Which meant I’d actually signed up for Ultimate Peru, Argentina and Brazil trip which you can view online here.
I was now on another invigorating part of South America that started in Buenos Aires and ended in Rio de Janeiro with plenty of adventures in-between. I was looking forward to the astonishing Iguazu Falls, wildlife of Iberra Wetlands, delicious local food, white beaches of the Copacabana, Christ the Redeemer and the favelas around Rio.
All internal flights were with either Latam or the internal airline Avianca both of which were exceptional. Again, I’d like to thank Fiona from The Adventure Store in Prahran, who helped me map out my nine-week itinerary through South America.
The trip started on New Year’s Eve in Buenos Aires and although I didn’t make the initial orientation, I heard from my fellow travellers that our guide Carla, did a brilliant job of making it a memorable evening.
I finally met my group the next day as we headed to the airport and although everyone had made those initial first connections the night before, I was embraced into the trip with open arms.
Once again, I was fortunate enough to have a room to myself and you can read more about my time in Mexico sharing a room. For me it’s not a big deal – that’s what earplugs are for.
Unlike my previous Intrepid trip, there weren’t those initial nerves as you meet your group and so I dove straight into the machinations of the trip with a breakfast and a private briefing by Carla. We hit it off immediately both being keen on mountains and climbing.
Intrepid has a few different styles of trips – Basix, Original or Comfort and I’ve done each one of them, often more than once. As someone who has spent many, many years camping, the Basic more than accommodates my needs so a Comfort trip for me is luxury. This trip Original trip was successful for two reasons – the Intrepid Guide – Carla was an amazing guide and we had a lot in common due to our backgrounds in climbing and mountaineering. However unlike my previous group in Peru, I’ve not kept in contact with anyone after the trip ended – we were just all very different.
On this trip, my fellow travellers were a mix of nationalities from USA, New Zealand, Australia and China. As usual, some had booked the trip well in advance, others had made a last minute decision to jump on board. All of us were keen to see Iguazu Falls and Christ the Redeemer but there was also a good mix of other things to explore such as the favelas, the beaches, the wildlife and for me – the food.
On this trip I continued my ‘minimal impact’ philosophy by using my own:
- Frank Green water bottle
- Frank Green coffee cup
- Tupperware collapsable bowl and lid
- Bamboo straw
- Cotton napkin
- Reusable bag
As I’ve said in previous blog posts, Intrepid has an excellent policy on how to be respectful to people, to the culture, and to the environment.
As this group wasn’t as ‘tight’ as my Peruvian travellers there was a lot of exploring solo. Some people in the group really connected and would occasionally meet up but mostly, we were individuals who joined together for those parts of the trip that were included. When it came to time to yourself, sometimes we’d start out together but all of us were comfortable setting off on our own when there was so much to see.
Like the trip prior to this one, we set up a WhatsApp group and this worked well. Carla was able to add in extra details about upcoming events so we were all prepared for the day or the evening. It was also a great way of getting to know the others on the trip when someone would float an idea of exploring a particular place and see who wanted to join them.
All external guides who joined us were fabulous, brimming over with knowledge and always with a big, generous smile. Marianna at Iguazu and Renata who was with Intrepid Urban Adventures. I still keep in touch with Renata as she sets off on her own adventures.
Now for some nuts and bolts about the Argentina & Brazil Adventure trip.
The following was provided:
- 9 breakfasts
- 1 lunch
- 0 dinners
Breakfasts were a little ‘hit and miss’ but mostly good. Del Rey Hotel in Foz Iguaçu certainly put on a culinary treat with a complete range of food for every nationality. Juices, teas, coffees, fruit, bread, pastries, cereal, yoghurt, hot food and so much more. If you have dietary requirements then I’d suggest you flag it early with the tour leader but mostly it can be accommodated plus there are mini-marts near most of the accommodation where you can supplement your appetite with anything you require.
9 nights in hotels all of which were of an excellent standard in relation to comfort, cleanliness and fairly quiet.
As a solo traveller, I was fortunate enough to have my own room and I nearly always had a queen size bed, occasionally a double. A couple of times there were two beds in the room. They were clean and comfortable. Plenty of linen and pillows. Televisions were in every room and occasionally I could pick up an English speaking channel, usually CNN. But I don’t travel to watch TV, so it wasn’t on very often except to get the local weather.
The accommodation was around 3 – 4 star and was always clean. All of the places were quiet and for me, that’s important. WiFi was hit and miss and like many places around the World, usually works best in the foyer. Rarely was I able to surf the net at night in my room, unless my room was near the foyer.
Places like Rio are huge and so hotels are mostly centrally located to the Copacabana Beach which is a good ‘handrail’ to orient yourself around the city. Of course, Sugarloaf Mountain also helps if you get a little disoriented.
The location of our hotel in Foz do Iguaçu was fantastic to find museums, parks, cafes, supermarkets etc. but a good minibus drive to the Iguazu Falls. I went out one night for pizza and it was an ideal walk around the area to find something to eat. There wasn’t a lot of sitting on a bus on this trip and you were often using transport just for short jaunts from A to B. The walking and exploring was brilliant and one of the best ways of getting a real feel for each country.
All rooms had their own shower, toilet, sometimes a bidet and hand basin. Basic toiletries supplied were soap and shampoo although others had toothbrushes, shower caps and mostly a hairdryer. No rooms had a bath. Rooms had either a key or swipe card so I felt secure but I always take my own small, lightweight doorstop just in case. All places had a pool and in Rio, it was on the roof with a stunning view. Rooms were airconditioned otherwise.
If you’re sharing a room with someone of the same sex, there isn’t an extra charge. I was fortunate to have my own room with no extra cost because there were 3 couples, 2 girlfriends and then a single man (who paid for a single supplement) and me. I don’t mind sharing and will write about that room sharing experience on my Mexico Unplugged trip soon. If you like to sleep in, worry about your snoring (or someone else’s, like to party or even if you think you might get sick, then I’d go with a single supplement.
Plane, local bus, private vehicle, mini-train and boat. This trip you can also catch taxi’s, Uber’s, option to go on a cable car up Sugarloaf Mountain and more. In the Iberra Wetlands, we made our way around in a 4WD with five of us in the car which included the driver.
Here is a video of our the little train which takes you from the entrance of the park at Iguazu Falls in Argentina to the actual falls where there are boardwalks and lookouts. It’s the cutest little ride but suggest you get there early so you get a seat facing forwards because viewing the ride backwards feels weird. Click here or the photo below to view the video.
- Buenos Aires – an Orientation walk
- Ibera wetlands – Full day touring
- Iguazu Falls – Entrance and tour of the Brazilian side of the falls
- Iguazu – Guarani community visit
- Iguazu Falls – Entrance and tour of the Argentinian side of the falls
- Rio de Janeiro – Guided tour including Santa Teresa, Selaron Steps, Christ the Redeemer statue and Rio downtown
One of the wonderful places we visited as Turismo Guarani outside of Iguazu. The guide showed us around his village, how they live, eat, grow crops and so much more. Took a few videos of their traps and snares and you can hear the local guide talking and the female voice is our guide Carla interpreting for us. This first one is to catch armadillos which you can view here. This next one is for smaller creatures and you can view that here. Like this one for catching pigeons which you can view here. And finally, this one which is for catching birds which you can view here. This is back to basics of living in Argentina.
I won’t go into detail about every place we visited as it would be writing for days but here are some of the places and things we did that were highlights for me and I’ve put up pictures in no particular order of importance.
As with most trips, I organise a transfer from the airport at the start and end of a trip which my travel agent took care of for a minimal fee. It’s always nice to arrive in an unknown country and have someone meet you and introduce you to their country. However, I do acknowledge it can be cheaper to make your own arrangements upon arrival.
Travel Insurance was with Covermore for the entire nine weeks I was away. I`ve used Covermore on all my trips and have found them to be competitive on price.
Also a big thank you to a truly professional guide – Carla. Travelling to two countries both of which speak slightly different languages and making sure all her clients are comfortable, safe and enjoying themselves is a big ask. She did it with style, aplomb and wove laughter throughout the trip. I will be forever grateful when she used her mountaineering skills to stop me from sliding over a slippery embankment at a lookout. Her reflexes were exceptional. As a guide myself, I doubt I could’ve reacted so swiftly.
I rate Argentina & Brazil Adventure
out of 5
Everyday facts for your trip to Argentina
Language: Spanish (official), English, Italian, German, French
Religion: Roman Catholic (92%)
Currency: Argentine Peso (ARS)
Power plugs and sockets: Type C and I. Click here to view images
Country calling code: +54
Local time: = UTC -3h
Capital City: Buenos Aires
Everyday facts for your trip to Brazil
Language: Brazilian Portuguese
Religion: Roman Catholic (80%)
Currency: Brazilian Real (BRL)
Power plugs and sockets: Type N. Click here to view images
Country calling code: +55
Local time: There are 4 time zones ranging from = UTC -2h to -5h
Capital City: Brasilia
Now it’s your turn.
What are your experiences with Intrepid Travel?
Leave a comment below.