- The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but seeing with new eyes. Marcel Proust
Known as the "Heart of America", Paraguay is a landlocked country located in the continent of South America. Asuncion is the capital city. The varied geography, pleasant tropical climate, and the fascinating landscape of contrasts, Paraguay leaves the traveller enchanted. Rustic life and the sophisticated urban scenario, poor and obscenely rich, the country is a land of contrasts.
Even though Paraguay is the second poorest country in South America, it is incredibly rich in resources, culture and history, and there are many interesting things to make the country perfect for a South America vacation. If you would like to get to know a little more the native cultures of South America, Paraguay is a great starting point.
Things to see and do in Paraguay
Cross the border to the Iguazu Falls
Meeting on what is called the Triple Frontera, the point where Argentina and Brazil meet Paraguay are the Iguazu Falls, one of the most spectacular sights on earth. The hectic and often overwhelming border town of Ciudad del Este is the perfect crossing point to the falls; you can cross the “Friendship Bridge” into Brazil or head south to Presidente Franco and take a ferry to Argentina.
Cruise the Paraguay River
Spend a few days travelling the Rio Paraguay, through the Pantanal wetlands, spotting wildlife and learning about the country’s extraordinary history. River tours typically depart from Concepción, stopping at towns and national parks along the way.
Discover the "pearl of the south"
The lively waterfront area of Encarnación has earned a reputation as one of Paraguay’s major tourist destinations. Locals flock to the beach during the summer season (December to February), which is brought to a close by the biggest carnival in the country.
Explore the capital, Asunción
The Paraguay capital is situated on the Bay of Asunción, an inlet off the Paraguay River. Planned on a colonial Spanish grid system, the old town has many parks and plazas. The newly built Costanera runs alongside the river and is a great spot to relax in an afternoon or go for a jog. Close by is the lively and colourful neighbourhood of Loma San Jeronimo, which holds regular events and offers the chance to experience traditional food. Even if there are no events on, it is a worth a trip because it has great views of the city.
Tour the tea plantations
Yerba mate tea is one of the most popular infusions in Paraguay and South America as a whole. In the 19th century it was exported as far afield as England and was exchanged for boats. The major plantations are located in the south of the country and guided tours are available from the city of Bellavista, home to two of the country’s major Yerba producers (Selecta and Pajarito).
Visit the "seaside" in landlocked Paraguay
Paraguay may be landlocked but the Paraná River is so wide at San Cosme y Damián that it gives the impression you have reached the coast. Impressive sand dunes along the banks of the river are a must-see and so are the Jesuit ruins in the town, which makes the perfect stop off for those travelling between Asunción and Encarnación.