Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tigre Islands Gay Escape

                                   Tigre Water Bus Jetty

Photos and Story by Roy Heale
Anyone who has been lucky enough to spend time in Buenos Aires during the summer months is well aware of the wonderful warm weather and how hot the city becomes every day. Fortunately, close at hand is the resort community of the Delta Tigre Islands just about a one hour journey to the north of the city. This is a large region---almost 400 square kilometers---of the Parana River Delta and the small low-lying islands forming the perfect community for an escape involving water sport activities to cool off and enjoy. No wonder the Rainbow Flag can be spotted along the waterways!

The main town of Tigre can be reached by taking the direct train from Retiro Station in Buenos Aires with about a forty-five minute journey and a round-trip ticket costing less than a dollar. It is so popular with the locals and tourists there is a special ticket booth dedicated to this route alone. Once in the town of Tigre there is a multitude of options to enjoy. Strolling around you can discover some of the historic architecture like the Buenos Aires Rowing Club headquarters built in 1878, or the Italian Canottieri Club, the waterfront includes the Parque de la Costa amusement park, and the Puerto Carpincho market abounds with local crafts and household items.

Buenos Aires Rowing Club
But the real fun is on the water and at the small island settlements. Numerous Catamaran tours are available from the heart of Tigre and the tours range from forty minutes to two hours with prices starting at about ten dollars. This is s a very good way to orient yourself on a first visit to the islands. Numerous water-side restaurants and bars are dotted along the river banks to create the perfect places for leisurely dining or just sipping a refreshing cocktail.

However, my first visit happened to be a Sunday at the gay-owned and operated Favela Bed & Breakfast Resort on the island of Tres Bocas. This was an organized day-trip excursion operated by Job Grobben of and about a dozen of us met early in the morning for a gay day in the sun. The Tres Boca island is reached by water bus from the main Tigre terminal and the round-trip ticket is about five dollars and takes roughly thirty minutes depending on the number of stops made by the bus. If you are making this journey without a tour guide remember to inform the water bus staff where you need to disembark and they will tell you when you have reached that point. The Favela is just a short five minute walk from the main Tres Boca jetty and it is easy to find on the island map which is readily available upon arrival.

Favela Bed & Breakfast Resort

Our day at the resort included an asado lunch with fresh salads and hellado---ice cream---desert accompanied by local wine and soft drinks. The large swimming pool was a wonderful cooling respite from the city's heat and the cash bar proved extremely popular for cold beers and more. For a small additional expense the on-site masseur was available to smooth away those urban tensions and make sure the afternoon by the pool was relaxing. Several guests also indulged with an afternoon siesta in the hammocks shaded by large trees. It was the perfect way to spend a Sunday when it was hovering around forty degrees in the city of Buenos Aires.

Cruising the Waters

Throughout the islands there are many small and large public beaches, camping grounds, accommodations, and facilities for day-trippers to enjoy this natural paradise created by the large river's delta. The tourist office beside the water bus ticket booth is an excellent source of information about the islands and most of the staff are fluent in English; all are very knowledgeable about the region. You may want to inquire about the Tren De La Costa as an alternative route home and although it is a slightly longer journey it is a more scenic route to enjoy.

Riviera Restaurant                            Path to Favela B&B

One thing you will learn for certain is that around the Tigre Islands the size and shape of your jetty reflects upon your individualism.

Waterfront Markets

Water Bus                                         Craft Store
For More Information Visit:

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Relaxing Feng Shui in the Heart of Buenos Aires' Palermo Community

Photos and Story by Roy Heale

In a city of thirteen million people you might think it is hard to escape the urban noise and bustle, but residents of Palermo in the heart of Buenos Aires are fortunate to have large parks and woodlands close at hand. One of the smaller parks within this green space is the Jardin Japones---Japanese Garden---where the Feng Shui influence creates a tranquil escape under the shadows of high-rise towers.

Supervised by the Japanese Cultural Foundation of Arentina these gardens have been in existence since 1969 to create a peaceful oasis for visitors to enjoy year-round. The park was constructed to honor a visit by one of the Japanese princes of that era. It includes a pavillion with a traditional Japanese tea-house, cultural center, library, and Oriental souvenirs. Plus of course the gardens are landscaped with lakes full of fish and ducks, footbridges, walkways, a greenhouse, and garden ornaments encompassing Feng Shui traditions. A leisurely stroll around the grounds will prove to be a very calming and tranquil relief from the busy city. You can even purchase your very own Bonsai tree to take home as a souvenir of your visit.

Children can enjoy feeding the fish---mostly large Carp---in the ponds or attending an origami folding class in the cultural center. Throughout the year Asian cultural fairs and festivals take place in the grounds.

The garden is located at the intersection of Avenue Berro Adolfo and Avenue Casares opposite the Plaza Alamenia---German Plaza. The park admission is a very nominal two dollars towards the expenses and administration which provides several hours of enjoyment. During the summer the park hours are Monday to Friday 10AM to 6PM and Saturday and Sunday 10AM to 7PM and check their website for winter hours.

Although the park is enjoyable throughout the year it is alive with colors during early spring and late fall. It provides a picturesque garden for all the family to enjoy amidst the Palermo woodlands and parks.

It's just another of the many reasons why I truly enjoy my new home in the heart of Palermo.

For More Information Visit:

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Nature's Wonderland---Iguazu Falls, Argentina

                                The Devil's Throat from Argentina Side of the Falls

Photos and Story By Roy Heale
              One of Mother Nature's great works can be found on the Iguazu River creating the natural frontier between Argentina and Brazil. Discovering the site of 275 waterfalls---dropping over eight-two metres---it soon becomes apparent to any observer that the Iguazu Falls must be one of the great wonders of the world. Set in a spectacular National Park of sub-tropical rain forest, these cascading falls are complemented by natural flora, fauna, wildlife, and a colorful array of butterflies.
             The falls are strung out along the rim of a crescent-shaped cliff about 2.5 miles long dropping into the gorge below. But perhaps the most impressive distinction for this majestic tourist attraction is the fact that it remains undeveloped and unspoiled by commercialism. There are no revolving restaurants atop concrete towers, or souvenir shopping malls, or wax museums, and nowhere to satisfy a Big-Mac attack. These wondrous sights can be witnessed close-up, in their natural environment, either from a Zodiac dinghy---with a refreshingly cool drenching---on the Iguazu River, or the miles of hiking trails and wooden catwalks.

The Devil's Throat from Brazil Side of the Falls
               On the Argentine side of the Falls the town of Puerto Iguazu is about ten miles from the site with regular bus service or taxis to the National Park entrance. In Brazil the city of Foz do Iguaçu is the town closest to the Falls and offers many amenities including the region's only gay-friendly bar named Space Night Club. Both towns offer a wide variety of accommodations, restaurants, cafes, bars, and shopping boutiques plus local crafts markets.
                          However, in Puerto Iguazu there are two extremely gay-friendly hotels which are also members of IGLTA. Recently I had the opportunity to spend a few days at each property and I soon realized they have already been discovered by many gay tourists! While I toured the region I found myself mesmerized by the magic and romance of the Falls clearly understanding its new found popularity as a gay vacation destination for anniversaries, romantic escapes, family vacations, and much more. One fact is for certain---this region is deserving of much more than just a quick day trip to see the falls.
                The Panoramic Hotel is located on a hill overlooking the confluence of the Iguazu and Parana Rivers where the incomparable vista includes the three frontiers of Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina. It is the only five-star boutique hotel in the area and is just a short five minute walk into the town of Puerto Iguazu. Built in the 1940s it has been an icon in the town's history and after closing in the 1980s it re-opened in 2007 after extensive renovations which have preserved the original character. The property is set amidst tropical gardens and includes restaurants, bars, cafes, and all amenities plus an extremely large swimming pool and solarium with a spectacular view---especially at sunset---and bar service. The rooms with stylish décor are spacious and comfortable with all the necessary accoutrements. The business center, TV Lounge, spa, and casino (currency in pesos) complete the perfect amenities for any vacation.

Panoramic Hotel Grounds and View
                     For those looking for a different experience the Iguazu Grand Resort Spa and Casino is located on the edge of town close to the Brazil border crossing. Here you can enjoy distinguished architectural style, exclusive décor, which includes authentic paintings by renowned artists. Plus three bars, two fine-dining restaurants, live stage shows in Cafe Magic, and one of the most sophisticated casinos (currency US Dollars) in Latin America for a guaranteed unforgettable visit. This is a twenty-one acre property with seventeen acres dedicated to lush gardens, waterfalls, three outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a spa (with indoor swimming pool), gymnasium, and family-friendly supervised Playland. The talented Executive Chef even has his own spice and vegetable garden to ensure his exquisite culinary creations are fresh and complete with local flavors. The rooms are extremely large and proffer every imaginable luxury including jetted tubs and large shower stalls for two. This is truly a resort worthy of any gay vacation for adults or the entire family.

Iguazu Grand Hotel Grounds
                     Many tours and excursions are available in the region with the gay-friendly Aguas Grandes tour company. They can arrange adventure tours, canopy tours, Parques Nacionales excursions, or customize your own outdoor adventure. Or you can also contact IGLTA member Brazil Ecojourneys who have a great deal of experience at Iguazu Falls for group and individual tours to the region.
                The year-round tropical climate provides hot days with the occasional cooling thunderstorm--- usually at night---making this an ideal destination at any time of year.

Iguazu Falls Viewing Platform, Argentina Side
                 During my visit I met a lesbian couple from Paris, a retired gay man from San Francisco, a young twenty-something same-sex couple from New York city, and a gay married couple from Canada with their two young children. These travelers clearly demonstrate how the discerning LGBT traveler has already discovered this natural wonderland.
               Perhaps Eleanor Roosevelt said it best upon her first visit to the Iguazu Falls when she exclaimed “ Oh, Poor Niagara!”.
               If you are planning a South American vacation be sure to do some research on this popular and gay-friendly option for a memorable experience.

For more information visit:,,, or

Panoramic Hotel Swimming Pool at Sunset