The gal is still on helicopter time, but now it is Brazil (or, technically, Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, anyway, she is in South America).
At Iguaçu, on the Brazilian side of the world’s widest and most breathtaking waterfalls, the knowledgeable luxury traveller books a helicopter sightseeing trip from Foz do Iguacu.
Fly over part of Iguaçu National Park, 457,144 acres in all. Look down at the falls, 275 of them (tallest, or as they say ‘longest’, drops 269 feet). In all, they stretch across 1.7 miles, and back on land you can get right up close, walking over foot-bridges suspended just a couple of feet above the rushing water.
The falls and their park areas, UNESCO Heritage Sites, are jointly administered by Argentina’s Iguazú National Park and Brazil’s Iguaçu National Park.
The only luxury hotel in the area is the divine Hotel das Cataratas, run by Orient-Express. It was built in colonial style in 1958, and now has 193 rooms (the gal recommends room 1117, a bijou suite that former-President Lula loves – wake up, esconsed in finest Trussardi linens, and you look right out at the falls).
Take a walk along the nearest path, before breakfast and before the day visitors come. Take a work out in the well-equipped gym, swim in the enormous curvilinear pool, to work up an appetite for the luxury restaurant’s breakfast that is so refreshingly copious you think ‘how did all this produce get here?’ (the hotel GM, Celso David do Valle Neto, is full of surprises – his luxury spa, for instance, has a fabulous German manager).
It was hard work being here, what with those hikes, the Falls, the bird life, the flowers everywhere – and zodiac-trips right to the base of some of the falls so that you get drenched.
Also, from a scientific and economic viewpoint, it is well worth taking a trip to the Itaipu Binational dam, 20 minutes away, and straddling the Paraná River, bordered by Brazil and Paraguay.
There are 20 generating units, each one capable of lighting 2.5 million homes – Brazil and Paraguay each take 50% of the output electricity (but Brazil then buys most of Paraguay’s, which has to be converted from 50Hz to 60Hz, work that one out).
Look up at one of the open-well slots to the top of the dam, over 600 feet above. Amazing. After building the dam they put in a bypass channel to take fish up 300 feet from base to upper level – and the fish were swimming it, taking uphill leaps, within one month. Amazing.
But then to stay ahead, a luxury lifestyle has to be amazing, and full of memorable experiences.