Whenever you venture deep into the natural world, you expect some element of roughing it. It simply comes with the territory. Truth be told, a little coarseness translates to authenticity that better grounds you in your milieu anyway.
You can expect some of this type of wildness at the intersection of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. Those in the know are familiar with the region, and its raison d’etre, the sensational Iguazú Falls. Let’s just stop right here for a second.
The Iguazú Falls, an exquisite environmental marvel of 275 individual drops, have inspired awe among tourists and indigenous inhabitants. It’s a sight of unfathomable beauty. With the distinction of being the world’s largest waterfall system, it is arguably grand by nearly every measure. Just exploring the various angles of the falls, which involves treks through lush rainforests, is worth the trip. This area is manna for bird watchers, and there is an abundance of wildlife to behold. If you’re lucky, you’ll get close to a toucan or spot a jaguar from afar.
And then there are the flutters of butterflies. A highlight of any trip to the region is seeing thousands of these magnificent blue, yellow, and white creatures. Set your iPhone to slow-mo to capture a video that will make your friends beyond envious.
Most people who visit the area can enjoy these attractions regardless of where they stay, but for the luxury adventurer, one option elevates the experience to something out of a storybook. Awasi Iguazú, a Relais & Chateaux property in Argentina’s Misiones Province, is the epitome of simple luxury — it’s anything but rough. Located only 20 minutes from the falls, the new compound of 14 villas and a lodge is situated on the banks of the Iguazú River. The property is completely surrounded by the Atlantic Rainforest, and the resort staff is totally committed to immersing guests in extreme comfort.
Getting here is relatively simple. It’s a short and picturesque flight from a nearby hub, most often Buenos Aires. Expect to be met at the airport by a personal guide who handles every detail of your visit for the duration of your trip. All guides are required to have an intimate knowledge of the area as well as the ecological and anthropological aspects that make it unique.
After a short drive to the lodge, during which you receive an introduction to the region and a preview of the excursions available during your stay, you arrive at the breathtaking collection of structures that make up Awasi. The central building is the massive open-air lodge that provides plenty of room for lounging, eating, and even shopping. It’s usual for Awasi to invite local indigenous artisans to show their jewelry, carved pieces, and other art. These artists’ works also decorate the lodge and villas.
Upon arrival, you will enjoy your first foray into an epicurean adventure unlike any other. While relishing a lunch or late afternoon snack, you look around and realize that you’ve left the rest of the world behind. Surrounded by rainforest and its magical sounds, you will feel transported to a different realm.
Next up: an overview of your private villa. While the ambient sounds of the rainforest remind you that you’re indeed isolated and smack in the jungle, the villa provides a safe and civilized oasis. The villas are spotless, well appointed, and environmentally appropriate. The open-concept villas are spacious. A villa’s living room area contains an overstuffed couch and chairs; its sleeping area has a dreamy bed dressed in sumptuous linens. The villas are decorated with plenty of indigenous art to admire. A separate bathroom features everything you’d expect from a five-star property, including exceptional bath amenities. The pièce d’résistance is the private deck and plunge pool where you enjoy the sights and sounds of nature without seeing or hearing other guests.
Throughout your stay, the staff is attentive and intuitive. Don’t be surprised to return from dinner to find your villa glowing with candles, a bottle of wine on a table, and exotic petals scattered across your bed. Eventually, you’ll want to get some sleep because your days will be full of adventure.
Curated excursions, which you carefully plan with your private guide, are at the heart of the Awasi experience. The Misiones Province is a melting pot of contrasts and diversity. The area is rich in history, archaeology, anthropology, and nature, and your guide will perfectly align excursions with your interests.
Our guide, Carlos, was just as passionate about our experience as he was about the land and people of his region . . . it made all the difference. It’s typical to spend two or more days exploring the falls. However, an abundance of other excursions away from the falls, including boat trips, hikes, and archaeological explorations can keep you well occupied.
Expect to have an appetite by day’s end. The cuisine can only be described as unrivalled. From the experimentation that goes into crafting meals from locally sourced flora and fauna to mind-blowing presentation, the arrival of each dish is a new culinary adventure.
The chef Aarón Castillo Tellería, his staff, and bartenders are up to any challenge, and they were adroit at handling oddball requests and diet restrictions. In all, it doesn’t take the crew long to catch on to any individual peccadilloes, and their intuition grows as the days go on . . . in short, the staff is on their game.
With luxury adventure growing in popularity across South America, sorting through options can take some time. Or not. Relais & Chateaux has an impeccable reputation and choosing from its growing portfolio of Awasi properties in South America can significantly reduce the time you spend on vacation decision-making.