Buenos Aires to Rio: Essential Places to See In-between
The route between colourful Buenos Aires and the wonder that is Rio De Janeiro can be variable, but whichever one you choose, you’re guaranteed some spectacular sights, sounds and experi-ences. Prolonging your journey and taking in some of Brazil’s quaint and vibrant coastal towns comes highly recommended, whilst a stop at the breathtaking Iguazu Falls is an absolute must….
1. La Boca, Buenos Aires
Before you head out of the city, be sure to wander down to La Boca area, and in particular, the colourful streets of Caminito - or ‘little walkway’ - to engage in a slice of charming Argentinian street culture, and albeit largely for the benefit of us tourists, this is gratefully received, and rightly so. The typical Buenos Aires cafe scene spills out into the streets where you can sit back and in-dulge in a glass of the red stuff whilst watching a live tango show.
The artistic veins of this neigh-bourhood are bursting at the seams and whilst it can be a slight overload for the senses, it’s one not to be missed. Plus, if football is your thing - and it definitely is most Argentinian’s thing! - the world famous La Bombonera stadium, home to the Boca Juniors football team and previous stomping ground of Diego Maradona is a stone’s throw from the Caminito district, with tours available for the die-hard fans.
2. Iguazu Falls
If you find yourself in this neck of the woods, you would be crazy not to venture to the border where Argentina and Brazil meet and pay a visit to the largest - and one of the most awe-inspiring - waterfall systems in the world. Easily reached by plane from Buenos Aires, it is with relative ease (though a bit of patience and paperwork are needed) that you can cross between the Brazilian and Argentinian sides of this amazing site and really take it all in.
And I mean really take it in - within the Iguazu National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre, there are plentiful walking trails to really submerge yourself in the falls and the rainforest, plus options for the more adventurous to take a breathtaking helicopter ride over the falls to get a birds eye view of the full works, or venture down and take a Jetboat ride right into the heart of the Devils Throat Canyon, but be warned - prepared to get wet!!
With small towns on both sides of the borders, you’re almost spoilt for choice for places to stay, and there are multiple opportunities to experience some typical Argentinian or Brazilian barbecues to provide you with more than enough fuel for your adventures. It is worth while spending a couple of days to explore from both sides if time allows, and when you’re there, keep your eyes peeled for the elusive jaguar, and hold out until you get the perfect rainbow shot!
Beautiful beaches, crystal blue waters and lush mountain ranges give way to the delightful colonial cobble streets of Paraty below, and this little town is a true thing of beauty. Steeped in history, for which free walking tours from the main square are available if you want to up your knowledge points, Paraty balances cosmopolitan Brazil with it’s heritage which is visibly running through the traditional curios shops and multiple bars and restaurants.
The breathtaking beach front makes it an ideal spot for your typical vacationer, but this town also welcomes day-trippers and backpackers alike, with accommodation for all preferences accessible. For a small town, Paraty offers an array of activities out in it’s natural beauty, but if time or money impose a little restriction, opt for day trip out on one of the glorious authentic vessels in the harbour; the choices of trips are varied, with many including lunch or drinks (all inclusive Caipirinhas I tell you!), but all including stops at some amazing and secluded beaches and coves.
4. Ilha Grande
A unique location off of the mainland, Ilha Grande - ‘Big Island’ - used to be home a leper colony and high security prison, and whilst a small (though somewhat less secure) prison building remains, the island now welcomes travellers and natives alike. Accessible only by ferry - though read this as ‘large speedboat’ for the best part! - Ilha Grande has no motor vehicles, meaning your legs are the easiest way to get around. Arriving off the boat into the main village of Vila do Abraao, you’ll be emerged into the hustle and bustle from the outset, but delve deeper into the streets and you’ll unearth some real gems to eat, drink, sleep and enjoy.
The mountainous back drops give way to some stunning hikes, and the promise of an amazing sunrise for the early risers, plus beautiful Brazilian beaches stretching around the island. Lopes Mendes beach is a 2 hour hike up and over the island from the main village, and previously nomi-nated one of the Top 10 beaches in the world, it’s well worth the effort - plus you can get taxi boat back if you’ve filled your exercise quota!
5. And then there’s Rio
A 3.5-4 hour drive from the mainland finds you in the spectacular city of Rio de Janeiro, but this city needs a post all to itself….
By Keely Butler