Nature is powerful, awe-striking…and humbling. Coming face-to-face with the Iguassu Falls is certain to make one realise the extent of nature’s prowess. Unlike any other waterfall on earth, the Iguassu Falls are one of the most magnificent natural sights that I’ve ever seen. The breath-taking series of 275 cascading waterfalls span almost 3 kilometres along the Brazil – Argentina border, and attract over a million visitors a year. It is no surprise that they were declared one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
The falls are located in the Iguassu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site within the tropical Atlantic Rainforest. The lush forest teems with wildlife and birdlife including jaguars, pumas, tapirs, and toucans. Within these incredible natural surroundings, boasting one of the most enviable locations in the world, stands the Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas . I got to experience this tropical haven with my family.
The pastel pink Portuguese colonial-style building first opened as a hotel in the 1958. It is the only hotel on the Brazilian side of the falls and the most exclusive place to stay when visiting the falls. Previous guests include Princess Diana, Paul McCartney, and Sean Connery.
Set within sprawling grounds with manicured lawns, the hotel overlooks the falls. In the evenings when the Park’s day visitors have left and before they arrive in the mornings, guests at the hotel have the falls all to themselves. We took full advantage of this privilege. It was pure bliss to be able to walk on the secluded trails, and immerse ourselves in the unobstructed views of the falls at sunset and sunrise, with only the resident wildlife for company. We got to see the falls in the morning when they were shrouded in mist like the mythical Shangri-La and as the mist dissipated, and the sun’s rays begin to illuminate the falls, we were there to witness that too.
The hotel has 193 rooms and 15 suites. We had two inter-leading bedrooms, a junior suite overlooking the falls for us and a twin bedroom for the kids. The rooms were spacious and oozed old-world elegance and charm. Pastel coloured walls, dark wooden floors and furnishings, and floral fabrics and artworks added to the colonial grandeur. A writing desk stood in the living area of the suite. Both rooms had fully-stocked minibars, coffee machines, LCD televisions and complimentary wi-fi.
Hand-written cards welcomed us to the hotel along with a tray of chocolate truffles for the adults, and milk, cookies and candy for the kids. The kids loved their sweet treats and proclaimed the cookies to be the best they’ve ever eaten. We were given other thoughtful gifts like little bottles of Iguassu water to take homes as mementoes, and journals to document our travels. The service, of course, was top-notch.
The marble bathrooms had double vanity basins, and inviting showers and bathtubs. The bathroom amenities by Granado smelt sumptuous and included soaps from Phebo, Brazil’s first luxury perfumery brand. Plush bathrobes and complimentary Havaianas, to use and take home, were provided. I couldn’t resist indulging myself. After a long walk through the forest, and a striking sunset at the falls, I got into a bubble bath and relaxed for a long while. Then I sank into the comfortable beds with crisp Egyptian linen and fell into a deep sleep.
In the morning, we climbed the hotel’s bell tower, the highest point in the park, to enjoy the spectacular views it offered. There is a huge swimming pool within the expansive gardens which is heated during the winter months and a small pool for the kids. I saw a lot of guests enjoying themselves there. Other facilities included a spa, a tennis court, outdoor chess boards, a gym, and a shopping area. Bicycles are available for guests to use. The Concierge can also arrange other activities in and out of the park, like helicopter flights over the falls, boat rides under the falls or treks through the South American jungle.
Buffet and a-la-carte meal options are available. We had breakfast at the poolside Ipê Grill and were spoilt for choice. Aside from the usual offerings, there were doughnuts filled with dulce de leche, chocolate croissants, and cheese buns – a delectable local delicacy. Drinks included sugarcane, watermelon, and pineapple juices.
The hotel is perfect for anyone who wants to enjoy the waterfalls, including families. There are inter-leading rooms for families with bigger kids. Baby cots and roll-away beds are available for smaller kids. The kids also get their own bathrobes and flipflops. If they get bored, they have access to Playstations, DVDs and toys, as well as the kids’ club, swimming pool and tennis courts. The restaurant has a kids’ menu too. Babysitting can also be arranged. My kids loved the hotel. My husband and I would go back in a heartbeat too.
An experience like this is hard to beat. Every traveller’s bucket list should feature the Iguassu Falls and the Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas is the best place to enjoy these wonders of nature from. I would recommend staying at least two nights so that you can enjoy rainforest spa treatments and lazy siestas under the palm trees, in between marvelling at the falls.
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My kids loved this ad, which was playing on the TV screen in our room, and we still talk about it.