Travel Adventures: Argentina: Iguazu Falls and Mendoza (Part 2)

Apologies in advance, long post alert! But we did so much and saw so many amazing places, I wanted to try to do them justice! Let me know what you think!

After a fun filled five days in Buenos Aires, A, M and I packed our little suitcases, said goodbye to our sweet Airbnb apartment and hotfooted it to catch our domestic flight to Iguazu! A mere two hours later and we found ourselves in completely different territory – we were ‘definitely not in Kansas anymore’!

Puerto Iguazu is found at the most north easterly point of Argentina, bordering Paraguay and Brazil. People flock here to visit Iguazu National Park and to see one of the seven natural wonders of the world – Iguazu Waterfalls which spans both Argentina and Brazil. Whilst Niagara might be the world’s most well known falls and Victoria Falls is the single, largest waterfall in the world – Iguazu is often said to be the most dramatic and beautiful! Technically Iguazu Falls sits as the second largest waterfall in the world, though if you combine both the Argentine and Brazilian side – it easily surpasses the size of Victoria Falls. Needless to say, we were all looking forward to this particular sightseeing adventure. 

But first, we headed to our hotel. Whilst we choose Airbnb lodgings for the rest of our trip, we decided to treat ourselves to something a bit more special for the weekend in Iguazu and booked the delightful https://loisuites.com.ar/en/. As soon as we pulled up, we breathed a huge sigh of contentment and knew we were in for a relaxing time – well, whilst we weren’t hiking the Falls!

Loi Suites sits right next to the Iguazu River and smack in the middle of rainforest! Whilst other hotels in Iguazu are nestled into the tiny town, there are only a few hotels this close to Iguazu National Park and so the scenery everywhere you look is absolutely stunning!

Loi Suites Hotel, Iguazu

Bidding goodnight to A and M, I unlocked the door to my gorgeous room and settled myself out on the balcony overlooking the rainforest canopy….

Blissful balcony views

And – simply because adulting can be hard sometimes (!) after a luxurious bubble bath, I ordered crepes (which came drenched in dulce de leche) for dinner which I gorged on in bed and had a glorious early night!

Crepes in bed!

The next morning we were up early to take a short car ride to Iguazu National Park. And WOW. What a day we had there. I promise that I’m going to try my very best to recapture our time at Iguazu Falls but, honestly, I’m not sure that my words or photos will do justice to the sheer scale and magnificence of this place. It left you with a feeling of wonderment and was truly magical.

Iguazu National Park map, highlighting the various walks you can embark on

“Iguazú” broken down, means “water” and “big” – and I can attest that these are some truly big waters! Legend has it that a deity planned to marry a beautiful woman named Naipí, who fled with her mortal lover Tarobá in a canoe. In a rage, the deity sliced the river, creating the waterfalls and condemning the lovers to an eternal fall! Who knows if this is true, but on my first sight of these big waters – I could totally see the drama, the beauty and the rage! Even just the sound of the place is totally amazing – the rush of so much water coming from all around you is spine-tingling! Everywhere you look is green and blue and the water itself is a unique, rich, rusty brown hue.

Hard to give you a sense of the sheer size of Iguazu Falls, but believe me they are HUGE!
Amazing to be so close to these beautiful Falls

We spent hours walking the trails and seeing the falls from different vantage points. I have to say, the National Park is designed so well! Despite it being a ridiculously popular tourist attraction, somehow it doesn’t feel too crowded and amazingly even though you’re on a directed walkway with other people, there are loads of nooks and crannies to be able to steal a solitary moment to take in the wonder before you – or to get that perfect picture!

Ready for our adventure…
Spot the rainbow!
Absolutely stunning!
Another beautiful vantage point to get a good look
A double rainbow – magical!

Honestly, this was one of those really, super special days in life – being surrounded by nature and being able to get so up close and personal with the Falls. I use the word ‘awesome’ a lot but these Falls were truly AWESOME. They took my breath away both figuratively and literally – at one point we got so close to the ferocious spray that we could hardly breathe! It left me with an overwhelming sense of peace and gratitude. I feel really lucky to have been able to experience Iguazu Falls, and make some memories that will last forever.

After a long day at the Falls, it was back to the hotel for some more R&R and the following day, we made the most of our luxury surroundings.

Isn’t this divine?!

I don’t know about you, but I am very much a pool person! I could spend hours upon hours by a gorgeous pool reading, sipping on an icy cocktail or two and taking regular dips to cool off! I think it’s so good for the soul and for the mind to completely switch off every now and then and indulge in some lounging! And lounge we did! I’m happy to report that the pool situation at Loi Suites was top notch and definitely to my liking!

Honestly – couldn’t be happier!

We were so sad to leave our little oasis, but our heavenly weekend soon came to an end and it was time to head back to the airport…. It was definitely hard to say goodbye to this place and I would love to return one day.

So pretty and so hard to say goodbye

Pre-trip, I had so much excitement for getting to Argentina and was looking forward to all of our travels but if I’m honest, I was the MOST excited to get to Mendoza. Mendoza is in the west of Argentina, bordering Chile and is renowned for being the country’s top wine producing region.

I wouldn’t call myself a wine expert by any means but my many years of indulging has got me to a place where I know what I like but I also love trying something new. I’m a big fan of new world wines, Argentina, Chile and South Africa in particular, and I am exceptionally partial to a Malbec – which is one of Mendoza’s most famous red wines.

I’ve also been lucky enough to have been on a couple of wine tasting vacations previously (in Portugal’s stunning Douro Valley staying at this fabulous working vineyard, Quinta Da Pacheca and in the glorious Loire Valley in France) and for me, they are perfect vacations – very chilled out, gorgeous scenery and nature all around plus amazing wine and delicious food! What’s not to like?!

We really lucked out with our Airbnb choice in Mendoza. We found this charming villa which was beautifully rustic and, whilst we didn’t realise it when we booked, our hosts offered us the option of paying extra for someone they knew to book in all our winery tours and take us there by car. Bonus! And just as well really because we had gotten completely overwhelmed with looking ourselves at the huge array of wine tasting options and hadn’t booked a single thing!

Our gorgeous villa in Mendoza, would highly recommend

And so, pretty much as soon as we arrived, we were whisked off by our lovely driver and tour guide to a gorgeous lunch and paired wine tasting at Belasco de Bacquedano. This place was stunning, but honestly as we continued to drive around the region, it became a theme – each winery was absolutely gorgeous, so it’s unlikely you could go wrong with whatever you decide to pick.

Belasco de Bacquedano

After some oooh-ing and ahh-ing outside, we were led upstairs and into a beautiful dining room. Take a look at these views of the Andes in the distance…

Lunchtime views, so spectacular

And then came the food, and the wine. Oh my……. Just looking at these photos makes me salivate! Such a great lunch and a sign of what was to come over the next couple of days. We found one of our favourite Malbec’s at this winery, Swinto, which you can actually buy at Wine Library.

Mmmmmm, just delicious
This was wolfed down in a matter of minutes – so so good

With some posing for photos in between courses being a must with this stunning backdrop….

One of my favourite photos from our trip

By the end of our lunch, despite the huge meal, I for one was already feeling a tad tipsy but had to get myself together as we drove onto the next stop, Viamonte. This place was smaller than the last, and I find it so interesting to see how the different wineries operate depending on their size, whether they are family run or a corporate operation and what type of wine they want to produce and be known for.

Touring the vineyards

After a brief tour of the vineyard, we were led inside to start our tasting.

Viamonte – our surroundings were unbelievably stunning
Viamonte

It was a pleasant enough tasting session and I absolutely loved the grounds as well as our friendly host, but in my opinion the Belasco wines outweighted these. Good solid wines no doubt but we realised we had tried some very special wine at our first winery.

After a very lovely couple of hours, it was back in the car (where I may very possibly have had a little power nap – poor A and M, they have seen me in so many states but I often fall asleep after some of our drinking sessions and let’s just say I am NOT a pretty sleeper!) and onto our last wine tasting of the day at Bodega Atamisque.

Bodega Atomisque was really pretty and I was blown away by their tasting room – we had this little beauty all to ourselves…

Bodega Atomisque wine tasting room
Wine tasting in full swing

I will be totally honest and say that by this point, I know I had an enjoyable tasting session but I can’t tell you what I thought of the wine itself! I remember this winery produced more white wine than most of the others and if I recollect accurately, I wasn’t the biggest fan of it…..but that comes with the huge caveat of me not being in my most right state of mind!

And so, just in the nick of time, we called it a day. We spent the rest of the evening out on the terrace back at the villa nibbling on some local charcuterie and sinking one last bottle of wine before slipping into a Malbec induced sleep!

The next day we were feeling good and ready to get straight back at it. I am so glad the combination of the fresh air and a good night’s sleep sorted me out because there was no way I wanted to be hungover for round two!

We drove out to slightly further a field wineries the second day, so we only fit a couple in – but honestly, what a couple they were…..! First up, Bodega Andeluna.

Yep, we were floored too as we drove up to this beauty

Andeluna was my favourite of all the wineries we visited, taking into account the wine we tasted and the overall space/ grounds. I was literally in heaven for the few hours we spent here and certainly didn’t want to leave. Take a look inside….

Bodega Andeluna entry hall
I am so proud of this gorgeous shot I managed to capture at Bodega Andeluna

The other wineries we had visited all felt way more intimate and smaller – we had either been the only ones there or with just a few other people. This was the most busy of the wineries and we joined a group of around 10 people for our tasting. But honestly the place was so huge it didn’t feel cramped and it was nice to meet some fellow winos!

During the tasting, I think it’s fair to say I found my absolute top wine of the trip, this 2015 Pasionado Malbec…

Andeluna’s Pasionado – my favourite wine of the trip!

It was utterly delicious, so smooth and full bodied. The setting at Bodega Andeluna was divine, the wine was completely more-ish, so we decided to cancel the next winery, buy a bottle of Pasionado to enjoy and take in the serenity our delightful surroundings.

Cue a couple of hours of bliss. I love afternoons like this – the sun’s out, you’re far away from any worries or troubles back home, you get to look out on such amazingly gorgeous scenery and you’re experiencing it all with close friends. Times like these make me so grateful for life! I felt so content here.

Who could resist an afternoon spent here? Not us!
The views were incredible – so serene and natural beauty as far as the eye could see
An afternoon I’ll never forget
Happy memories

Sad as it was, at some point our lovely driver/ tour guide managed to pull us away from our little slice of heaven to make sure we got to our final winery of the trip and to our lunch reservation!

Let me introduce you to Domaine Bousquet

We didn’t tour here, instead we had reservations in their cute restaurant for lunch with paired wines. I don’t know if I will do justice to just how fantastic this lunch was! But I will try! It started, in my opinion how every amazing lunch should start – with some ice cold, rose bubbles…

A cracking start to our final lunch in Mendoza
A taste of what was to come

OK – so my favorite steak of our entire trip was this one! It was soooooo delightful – and even though by this point of our trip, we had consumed enough steak to last us a lifetime – I would have happily eaten this again as soon as my plate was done.

So delicious

Paired with this equally fabulous Malbec…

M’s (by now) trained eye on this bottle of Malbec!

To help our steak digest, we took a stroll on the patio outside and took in some of the views from Domaine Bousquet.

Super tranquil lunch views

Before returning for this epic dessert. After an immense couple of days indulging, it’s safe to say we were finally done at this point!

Pretty as a picture!

We had one last evening back at the villa to enjoy another Mendoza sunset and before we knew it, we were on a flight to Buenos Aires. Our final pit stop and perhaps the most exciting part of the trip for me – my friend E’s wedding!

A few weeks before our trip, we had managed to make a reservation at the top steakhouse in Buenos Aires, Don Julio for our last night together in Argentina. Now controversial as this may be – and to be fair, it could well be a result of the fact that we were probably steak-ed out by this point – but I have to say I was a little disappointed by the food itself.

The crowds beginning to form outside Don Julio – make a reservation!

I will say that the ambiance was lovely and the service was great. This place is so popular, that the many walk ins who are happy to wait hours for a table, are often to be found seated outside on chairs the staff have kindly brought out for them and served empanadas hot from the oven as a courtesy! And despite the growing crowds outside vying for a table, we were never at all rushed or made to feel like we needed to speed through our dinner.

A – and Don Julio’s delightful interior

Don’t get me wrong, it was a lovely meal but after being spoilt in Mendoza it was a little anti climatic for me which was disappointing. I think I even preferred the steak I had at La Cabrera at the beginning of our trip. But it’s worth a visit and there is so much history and ambiance to soak up there.

Our last full day in Buenos Aires saw us taking in Palermo once again and enjoying the cafe culture and the last of the sunshine. In the early afternoon, I said goodbye to A and M and headed back to our second Buenos Aires Airbnb to get ready for E’s wedding!

It was a beautiful church wedding, E looked positively radiant when she walked in and whilst the service was in Spanish, it was hard to mistake the love and emotion that filled the chapel.

What a beautiful bride, don’t they make a lovely couple?

We were able to mingle for a while afterwards in the lovely church garden and then we drove out to the most magical outdoor setting in the countryside for the reception. E and her now husband G, had done a fabulous job of finding a relaxed but still breathtaking venue for their special day which completely suited them! It was such an international wedding and I loved meeting E’s family from New Zealand/ Ireland and G’s huge Argentine family as well as their many friends who had flocked from near and far to be with them. We spent the night eating, drinking, laughing and dancing until our feet gave out. A perfect wedding night!

Argentina was a great trip – one I definitely won’t forget in a hurry. We packed so much in and I’m glad and grateful that we got to see so much of this varied country. I would love to go back and see Patagonia and spend a bit more time in magnificent Mendoza. I’d also be keen to add on either Chile or Brazil!

In fact, that reminds me….. I had better get planning my next trip!

Where do you think I’m headed next?!

Xoxoxoxox

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