After our wonderful trip to the Antarctica, I knew that we would be hard-pressed to find anything quite so wonderful. But I was wrong…..it was just as wonderful- simply different!
We arrived back into Ushuaia around 8 in the morning, and flew out mid-afternoon. In between we headed to a wonderful little restaurant (or two to be precise) for coffee, food and wifi.
This time when we stayed in BA I chose to stay in a different part of the city (San Telmo) and older and more interesting (in my mind) part of of the city. This is a funkier end of town- walking distance to the malls and stores at Calle Florida, and also to the Plaze de Mayo and the Catedral Metropolitana. We arrived on a Thursday late afternoon, and on Friday we had booked at day trip with Viator– the Gaucho Day Trip from Buenos Aires of Santa Susana Ranch. This was great fun with horseback riding, wagon rides, a small museum of ranch life, and cowboy trick riding at the end of the day. The lunch was delicious, with plentiful food and wine (seranaded by Tango dancers and guitars.)
Whe we returned in the late afternoon we met up with our travel group- Peregrine Adventures- Argentina and Brazil, a small group of just 16 travellers, led by our intrepid guide, Alberto. The following morning, we set out bright and early for a small bus tour of the city, with commentary by a local guide. Although Bonnie and I had seen some of the sights on our previous visit to BA before the Antarctica portion, for the most part we saw new areas.
As well, we stopped and walked around some of the areas- like the “disdainfully rich” mausoleum cemetery of Recoleta where Eva Peron is buried, the colourful funky and artistic area of La Boca, and then filed into the Catedral Metropolitana mentioned above, where a service was happening as we quietly toured. Catedral Metropolitana is the largest cathedral in BA, and is the former church of Pope Francis. The remainder of the day was spent at our leisure (shopping, exploring, etc.).
Below: Dancing on a lazy Saturday afternoon in La Boca, and enjoying the colours of La Boca.
The following morning we headed to the famous San Telmo Market for some heavy duty shopping and people watching. Along the market row you will find shops and tables of all kinds- from hand made jewellery to t-shirts to leather belts to antiques to……the list goes on and on.
The market is full of families out and about, tourists, and street performers. We were fortunate enough to find a table along the main area where we enjoyed a light lunch, people watching and chatting to an English couple who had also just returned from the Antarctica (Following in the Steps of Shackleton- 100 Year Anniversary Trip).In the afternoon I headed out walking to the Calle Florida area where I endulged in window shopping and gelato…..one of the specialites of BA.
Day three found us on an early morning flight to Iguassu Falls where in the afternoon we walked and explored the views from the Brazilian side. Pictures hardly do this spectacular sight justice! Made up of about 276 waterfalls, some up to 80 meters high, the noise and mist made this experience unforgettable.
The following day we headed bright and early to the Argentian side for the “closeup views”. Here we moved by train from area to area, with lots of walking along boardwalks out and over the falls. Again- up close and personal with a local guide from the area.
In the afternoon we headed to a Guarani village, one of the native peoples of the region, attempting to move into the 21st century with some slow successes. Very interesting with a Guarani guide who was open to lots of questions from us!
The following morning we were up bright and early for the only non-stop flight of the day to RIO. Arriving slightly bleary eyed, we indulged in a free afternoon of walking along the beaches (our hotel was 40 meters from Ipanaema Beach) and/ or drinking coffee, local alcoholic specialities, and people watching. In the evening a few of us arranged with the help of our hotel a trip by taxis to Sugarloaf Mountain. Although the sunset was not all it could have been it was well worth it for the view!
My last day (due to a schedule change by Air Canada for our evening flight) found us moving through BA with local Urban Adventures guides – exploring the various sights of Rio. Here we barely touched the surface, and many of the people on the tour were planning on staying for extra days.
We headed to the Christ the Redeemer statue, the famous statue overlooking the city, then onto Santa Teresa, an old historic area located on top of a hill with cobbled streets, a tram, and various unusual crafty type of shops. Nearby is locate the Lapa area where the Escadaria Selarón steps are located. These wonderfully colourful steps are a must see if you are visiting Rio.
Finally we ended with a visit to a local favela, Santa Marta, where we were guided and informed by two of the inhabitants. In my mind this is another must see of Rio- if you can, go with Urban Adventures- as they contribute to the favela’s economy simply by employing residents as guides. Here again you can feel comfortable to ask lots of questions, and truly find out how another part of Rio lives.
That is my second part of my South American journey in a nutshell. If you enjoy stretching your horizons but with some comfort at night, and travelling in a responsible way that supports the local economy, I highly recommend Peregrine Adventures. Being part of a small group means you can fit into small local restaurants and hotels, as well as giving you some independence on your travels. If you are interested in this trip, or any others with Peregrine, or you simply want to learn more about their style of travel, please do not hesitate to contact me via email or at 226-927-4061, my direct line.