Welcome to Insider Out Travel, a blog about LGBT travel written by LGBT tourism professionals. Travel the globe and gain insight into the tourism industry (with a gay twist), brought to you by the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association.


Friday, January 1, 2010

Visiting IGLTA Members at Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Devil's Throat from Argentina Side of the Falls

 Photos and Story By Roy Heale

             One of Mother Nature's great works can be found on the Iguazu River creating the natural frontier between Argentina and Brazil. Discovering the site of 275 waterfalls---dropping over eight-two metres---it soon becomes apparent to any observer that the Iguazu Falls must be one of the great wonders of the world. Set in a spectacular National Park of sub-tropical rain forest, these cascading falls are complemented by natural flora, fauna, wildlife, and a colorful array of butterflies.

             The falls are strung out along the rim of a crescent-shaped cliff about 2.5 miles long dropping into the gorge below. But perhaps the most impressive distinction for this majestic tourist attraction is the fact that it remains undeveloped and unspoiled by commercialism. There are no revolving restaurants atop concrete towers, or souvenir shopping malls, or wax museums, and nowhere to satisfy a Big-Mac attack. These wondrous sights can be witnessed close-up, in their natural environment, either from a Zodiac dinghy---with a refreshingly cool drenching---on the Iguazu River, or the miles of hiking trails and wooden catwalks.
             On the Argentine side of the Falls the town of Puerto Iguazu is about ten miles from the site with regular bus service or taxis to the National Park entrance. In Brazil the city of Foz do Iguaçu is the town closest to the Falls and offers many amenities including the region's only gay-friendly bar named Space Night Club. Both towns offer a wide variety of accommodations, restaurants, cafes, bars, and shopping boutiques plus local crafts markets.

Panoramic Hotel Pool at Sunset

               However, in Puerto Iguazu there are two extremely gay-friendly hotels which are also members of IGLTA. Recently I had the opportunity to spend a few days at each property and I soon realized they have already been discovered by many gay tourists! While I toured the region I found myself mesmerized by the magic and romance of the Falls clearly understanding its new found popularity as a gay vacation destination for anniversaries, romantic escapes, family vacations, and much more. One fact is for certain---this region is deserving of much more than just a quick day trip to see the falls.

               The Panoramic Hotel is located on a hill overlooking the confluence of the Iguazu and Parana Rivers where the incomparable vista includes the three frontiers of Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina. It is the only five-star boutique hotel in the area and is just a short five minute walk into the town of Puerto Iguazu. Built in the 1940s it has been an icon in the town's history and after closing in the 1980s it re-opened in 2007 after extensive renovations which have preserved the original character. The property is set amidst tropical gardens and includes restaurants, bars, cafes, and all amenities plus an extremely large swimming pool and solarium with a spectacular view---especially at sunset---and bar service. The rooms with stylish décor are spacious and comfortable with all the necessary accoutrements. The business center, TV Lounge, spa, and casino (currency in pesos) complete the perfect amenities for any vacation.

Iguazu Grand Hotel Outdoor Pools

                       For those looking for a different experience the Iguazu Grand Resort Spa and Casino is located on the edge of town close to the Brazil border crossing. Here you can enjoy distinguished architectural style, exclusive décor, which includes authentic paintings by renowned artists. Plus three bars, two fine-dining restaurants, live stage shows in Cafe Magic, and one of the most sophisticated casinos (currency US Dollars) in Latin America for a guaranteed unforgettable visit. This is a twenty-one acre property with seventeen acres dedicated to lush gardens, waterfalls, three outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a spa (with indoor pool), gymnasium, and family-friendly supervised Playland. The talented Executive Chef even has his own spice and vegetable garden to ensure his exquisite culinary creations are fresh and complete with local flavors. The rooms are extremely large and proffer every imaginable luxury including jetted tubs and large shower stalls for two. This is truly a resort worthy of any gay vacation for adults or the entire family.

                   Many tours and excursions are available in the region with the gay-friendly Aguas Grandes tour company. They can arrange adventure tours, canopy tours, Parques Nacionales excursions, or customize your own outdoor adventure. Or you can also contact IGLTA member  Brazil Ecojourneys who have a great deal of experience at Iguazu Falls for group and individual tours to the region.

                   The year-round tropical climate provides hot days with the occasional cooling thunderstorm--- usually at night---making this an ideal destination at any time of year.

Viewing Platform and Falls on Argentina Side

                 During my visit I met a lesbian couple from Paris, a retired gay man from San Francisco, a young twenty-something same-sex couple from New York city, and a gay married couple from Canada with their two young children. These travelers clearly demonstrate how the discerning LGBT traveler has already discovered this natural wonderland.

                    Perhaps Eleanor Roosevelt said it best upon her first visit to the Iguazu Falls when she exclaimed “ Oh, Poor Niagara!”.

                    If you are planning a South American vacation be sure to do some research on this popular and gay-friendly option for a memorable experience.

For more travel stories by Roy Heale visit: http://www.royheale.blogspot.com/