YACUTINGA- PEACE, PRESERVATION, BEAUTY
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
325Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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Journey: Port Iguazu to Yacutinga Lodge near Andresito
Weather: Clear, sunny day; 28*C mid day.
We hung out at the hotel in Port Iguazu until 2 pm and then found our place of departure to Yacutinga Lodge nearby.
The two guides greeted us and we grabbed the two front seats in the 4 wheeled drive bus before a group of 27 Belgians arrived to fill the vehicle. We had come across this lodge during some research in Australia and decided being close by after our visit to the wonderful Iguazu Falls that this could be a sweet adventure. We had read both fabulous and negative reviews of the lodge but we have also learned during our travels that opinions are so personal that you need to check it out for yourself.
We were happy we did because the 2 night stay there was fantastic. The lodge was the dream of an Argentinian to create an eco-tourism experience that benefits the wild life, the environment and the local community. In the early 1990s he purchased 570 hectares of virgin forest in the quickly disappearing Misiones Forest. He then set about constructing the lodge, using local labour and resources- there was no water, or power and he had to build a road in as well. The builders camped on the land under tarpaulins for 2 years to get the job done and the result is a beautiful, comfortable and classy ""resort"" in the middle of the jungle.
Anyhow, back to our story; our guide Michaela described the ecology and pointed out birds and plants of interest as we jogged along the red soil track- the soil reminded us of the red soil of the Pilbara in WA. Flocks of bright yellow butterflies accompanied us and the vista of red, green and the blue sky was a happy one. Some of our journey took us through the national park and then through farms of tobacco, maté (the local tea) and cattle.
We were happy to reach our destination and we were welcomed with a glass of iced lime juice and a brief run down of the facilities.
Wood and clay were enhanced with colourful glass from recycled bottles and the effect in the structures was eclectic and stunning.
Our room, set in the lovely gardens was cool, spotlessly clean and architecturally smart; the polished cement floors and pale yellow walls seemed just perfect for a lodge in the jungle. We took a stroll through the grounds before dinner and admired the flowers, birds and fading light.
We were presented with a choir of young Guaraní people singing traditional songs and this was an unexpected surprise appreciated by all
Well, let me tell you about the food- it was fresh local produce prepared by cooks from the nearby town and it was fabulous. Three courses, beautifully presented and delicious. Tonight it was a barbecue over hot coals with a variety of meats grilled to perfection and accompanied by interesting and tasty salads. A small entreé of corn patties with lime and spice dressing was spectacular and dessert was home made mango ice cream which had us wishing for more.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner never failed to impress us and Sheila visited the kitchen several times to thank the cooks.
The dining room was attractively built of polished wood with local artifacts displayed and we had our own table separate from the large Flemish speaking group who were on a 20 day eco tour of Argentina; we did get to know them individually over the three days, but they were happy to stay together with their tour guide.
We appreciated the sweet water that came from a spring, 85 metres below the ground and noticed that power was from solar panels.
Sleeping to the sounds of the forest was restful and the temperature over night was ideal and it seemed so soon that we received the 6am wake-up knock on the door to rise and shine!!
After a hearty breakfast we listened to the program for the day and set off on a 4 hour exploratory trek through the forest, led by our guide and the local Guaraní leader; they pointed out birds and flora of interest and led us to a clearing where some traditional traps were installed to give us an idea of hunting methods. Sheila was the happy recipent of a wrist band produced by the Guaraní man from the twine of philodendrum- she still wears it 6 weeks later.
The red soil was muddy in places after recent rain but today was sunny and warm and we reached a large marshy clearing and a viewing platform to catch glimpses of birds and animals. With the sun came the colourful butterflies and we saw caimans, lizards etc.
After lunch it was our turn to grab the kayaks and float down the St Christopher creek to the very wide Iguazú River; the muddy water contrasted with the very green forest and azure blue sky and Kath was happy to catch sight of the Toucan flying above and this was our one and only glimpse of this gorgeous bird.
Our two guides drifted ahead of us, enjoying their maté and the coolness of the place. Two hours later with Brazil on the other side of the river, we ditched the kayaks and trekked the 5 kms trail back to the lodge.
We caught up with the other at the viewing platform and watched the sky change colour with the sun setting and the rest of the hike was in the dark to witness the forest at night. We thought that this was a waste of time because except for the beautiful fireflies darting brightly about, us avoiding deep mud and slippery edges with no real exposure to night animals was probably a bit hazardous.
We were all happy to return, visit the bar and shower and change for dinner. A negative at the lodge was the price of the wines so we stuck to drinking our own supply that we had brought with us.
Breakfast was later the next morning and we packed and took our time; a stroll around the gardens revealed some lovely orchids and we enjoyed the cat walk which took us into the tree branches to look for birds. We did see a little humming bird in the viewing area and you really admire the energy they have to remain in position..
We found Enriqué by the pool for the "orchid rescue" session. He explained that the plants got damaged by animals in the forest and the staff at the lodge rescued the broken plants and tied them to sticks and branches until they took root and they were then returned to the forest. Sheila and I took the plants from the container and under the watchful eye of our guide tied them in place.
We loved Enriqué for his love and knowledge of the forest and environment- he was gentle and positive and was happy to impart his experiences.
All the staff at the lodge were helpful and polite; they seemed to be multi-skilled doing whatever needed to be done.
Just before we left the local Guaraní people set up their hand crafts for us to buy and we bought our only souvenir of the trip, a hand carved toucan.
The swimming pool looked inviting on this warm morning and the lazy lizards sunning themselves took our attention, but we were called to assemble at reception and were fed delicious "cheese scones" -sort of- a local delicacy and some very tasy empanadas as we checked out.
This had been a lovely adventure, relaxing, low key and peaceful!! Not too much wild life to be honest and not too strenuous, but the ambience and site was a pleasure to experience.
Now it was back to the airport and Buenos Aires.