Paraguay is a small country with almost 6.7 Million inhabitants. Being the size of California it is surrounded by Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina in south-central South America. Eastern Paraguay, between the Paraná and Paraguay rivers, is upland country with the thickest population settled on the grassy slope that inclines toward the Paraguay River. The greater part of the Chaco region to the west is covered with marshes, lagoons, dense forests, and jungles.
And even though Paraguay isn’t on everybody’s map as a tourist location you will find many interesting places to visit.
Asuncion is the capital of Paraguay and is one of Latin America’s oldest cities founded in 1537 by Spanish conquistadores. As all places of interest are in a small area it is easy to explore them walking through this very pleasant city. Visit the historical district and the white Presidential Palace, watch the changing of the guard at the Panteón de los Heroes, built in 1863 as an oratory for the Virgin, now a memorial to the country’s war dead or take a walk in the city’s the main park, Ñu Guazu, which is a popular relaxation spot and a good place to watch the locals at play.
If you want to enjoy a day in a sub-tropical rainforest with hidden waterfalls and lots of nature and wildlife, you should visit the Ibycuí National Park which can be easily reached from Asuncion and is perfect for a daytrip. Huge, colorful butterflies will accompany you as you walk around the woods, such as the metallic blue morpho.
Six hours to the west from Asuncion you will find a hidden town in the vast Gran Chaco, the largest dry forest in South America and the continent’s most extensive forested region after Amazonia. Filadelfia, in the heart of the Mennonite settlements, looks like a town out of Germany and was founded in the early 1930s. Recognized as the center of the Mennonitenkolonie, it is considered the largest and most typical Mennonite community in Paraguay and the growing center of local tourism. The residents still speak Plattdeutsch, a language of Germany also called low German, or high German,Hochdeutsch in schools. Many speak Spanish and some English.
Ciudad del Este is located on the eastern side of Paraguay, right on the border with Brazil and Argentina, and is one of the smallest cities in the country. This modern, developed city is one of the world’s largest free trade zones. Bargain priced electronic and consumer goods are readily available here. It is about five miles away from the Iguazu Falls and you can take a bus to the falls from Ciudad del Este, transiting through Brazil or Argentina depending on which side you visit. There is no need to obtain a visa if visiting just for the day, as tourist day passes are available.
Once the waters of the Iguazu River crash off the falls, they are fed into the Parana River, which is South America’s second longest river after the Amazon. Harnessing this energy is the Itaipu Dam, which is actually a dual nation project between Paraguay and Brazil. The dam is the largest hydro-electric plant in the world, supplying 90 percent of Paraguay’s electricity. The dam was officially opened in the 1980s and was listed by the American Society of Civil Engineers as one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
The Cerro Cora National Park is the largest protected area in Paraguay and home to caves that contain prehistoric indigenous artwork and inscriptions of the Pai Tavy Tera people dating back to 1300 BC. The area is heavily wooded, with a diverse mix of vegetation and interesting stark hills that jut out into the landscape, plus steep waterfalls. The visitor center here provides information on circular hiking trails.
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