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
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