Paraguay — Things to Do
Paraguay presents a wild and undulating landscape, and essentially you can divide the country into four quarters, with each worthy of discovery in its own right. Dissecting the country down the middle is the mighty Paraguay River, and to the east are sub-tropical, paradisiacal rainforests leading to the colossal Iguazu Falls, which emerges through the jungle. To the west are the beginnings of the great plains of the Chaco region. Great birding and other wildlife encounters are possible in these largely untouched areas, or the river itself can be enjoyed by taking a boat ride to observe the wildlife that lives along the banks.
An imaginary line divides Paraguay North and South, the Tropic of Capricorn. The climate below this invisible line is cool sub-tropical and above is tropical. To the east of the river are the beginnings of the Patanal wetlands that engulf the south of Brazil and to the west is the semi-arid environment of the Gran Chaco, which presents a seemingly never ending expanse. More great wildlife opportunities await visitors at these destinations, and even the journey in itself to reach them is spectacular.
With so many untouched areas in the tropics and sub-tropics, there are ample birding opportunities in Paraguay, which is home to over 600 species of bird life. Fauna Paraguay offer several birding tours, with one-day, 10-day, and 20-day excursions available.
There are 20 national parks and a further 14 protected ecological reserves in Paraguay, making it an awesome wildlife spotting destination. Paraguay Safari offers absolutely enchanting wildlife tours, reaching into many off-the-beaten-track with experienced guides.
Paraguay was home to the first working railroad system in the entire South American continent. Today you can go on the last remaining segment by riding the heritage steam train. The service runs weekly on Sundays from the botanical gardens in Asuncion to the village of Aregua, about 15 miles away. Service operator Ferrocarriles del Paraguay S.A. as well as the local tourist office in Asuncion sell tickets.
Experiencing the might of the Paraguay River is best done on a river boating excursion. Crucero Paraguay runs the best trips on a converted old wooden paddleboat. It currently offers two round-trips from Asuncion, each lasting three or five days.
Amazing lush green rainforest awaits you in the sub-tropical climes of southwest Paraguay, providing ample jungle trekking opportunities. If you head to Mbatovi ecological reserve, there are several well-marked trails where you can explore this wilderness and discover one of the many waterfalls that emerge through the vegetation. You can stay in comfortable accommodation within the grounds should you wish to extend your visit.
Even though Paraguay is a landlocked country, there are still excellent sports fishing opportunities on both the Paraguay and Parana rivers in the southwest of the country. Barka Viajes offers various excursions at locations near the confluence of where the two rivers meet.
Although the Iguazu Falls are not within Paraguay, the confluence of the Iguazu River reaches the border, and the colossal cascades are just 15 minutes’ drive away from the country’s edge and easily reached. City Discovery offers a tour departing from Asuncion, providing transport across the border and including a visit to the Itaipu Dam on the return leg.
A drive on the Trans-Chaco Highway is one of those experiences you can only have in Paraguay. This huge great plains area contains 60 percent of the country’s land mass, yet only five percent of the population. It is a massive expanse and a marvel to the eye. Any ride on the highway will provide you with an unforgettable experience, although NSA runs a reliable trip twice daily to the town of Filadelfia, home to the famous German Mennonite community―a noteworthy end destination for your trip on the highway.