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  • Overview

    Paraguay sits landlocked amongst South America'stourist favourites of Brazil, Argentina, and Bolivia, and isunfairly overlooked by visitors except for the most intrepidtravellers and eco-tourists.

    Paraguay is unique in South America in that itlargely resisted the cultural devastation wrought by the Spanishconquistadors and has therefore preserved the cultural dominance ofits pre-Colombian Guarani people.

    Since becoming a republic in 1811 a series ofdictatorships have marred its progress, but today Paraguay has arelatively peaceful democracy and is fairly prosperous thanks toits thriving agricultural economy.

    Those who fly into the capital, Asuncion, will find alarge, relaxed city full of Latin American atmosphere andhistorical interest. The city's rich 450-year history is reflectedin the downtown architecture, including the Asuncion Cathedral, aswell as some modern marvels like the beautiful Lirico Theatre. Inaddition, Asuncion boasts a fun nightlife, vast shopping malls, andsome excellent hotels and restaurants.

    Rivers are the lifeblood of Paraguay and a sceniccruise from Asuncion to Concepcion is a popular option fortourists. Concepcion is a laidback little town about 130 miles(210km) north of the capital, the most notable feature of which isthe riverside setting.

    More adventurous travellers might make expeditions tothe western Chaco region, where some fascinating German Mennonitecommunities can be found living alongside the indigenous Guaranipeople, and hundreds of species of flora and fauna flourish in themarshes.

    Paraguay is essentially a travel book still to bewritten. Although tourist amenities may be lacking outside of thecapital, those keen on experiencing a South American destinationoff the beaten tourist track will find plenty of charm, unspoiltwilderness, and authentic indigenous culture in Paraguay, making ita rewarding and memorable destination.

    This vibrant country in the centre of South Americais relatively undiscovered by tourists and therefore doesn't havethe same extensive offering of traditional sightseeing attractionsas some of its well-known neighbours.

    Although this can make it more difficult to knowwhere to go and what to do, the non-commercialised nature of travelin Paraguay is a huge part of the country's appeal for travellersbecause the culture feels so authentic and the tourist sites aren'tpacked with crowds.

    Paraguay is a great place to visit for lovers ofwaterfalls and rainforest. The beautiful Saltos del Mondaywaterfall is the centrepiece of the Municipal Park Monday which isa great outdoor playground for tourists wanting to experience thenatural glory of Paraguay.

    There are camping facilities, picnic sites, andhiking trails, while tour operators offer fun adventure activitieslike climbing and rappelling alongside the dramatic falls. The parkis easily accessible from the city of Ciudad del Este, which isalso the gateway to the magnificent Iguazu Falls shared byArgentina, Brazil, and Paraguay.

    Other wonderful wilderness areas in Paraguay includethe eight Itaipu Ecological Reserves which protect swathes ofParaguay's remaining rainforest, as well as the vast Cerro CoraNational Park and Ybycui National Park, conveniently located nearAsuncion.

    Although the historic centre of Asuncion offers someworthy landmarks, museums, and monuments, the most highly-regardedcultural attraction of Paraguay is the collection of 17th-centuryJesuit missions near the city of Encarnacion. These UNESCO-listedwonders are a treat to explore. The best preserved of the threesites is Trinidad de Parana but La Santisima and Jesus deTavarangue are definitely also worth a visit.

    Ciudad del Este

    Located on Paraguay's border with Brazil, Ciudad delEste is the second largest city in Paraguay and is considered thetop shopping destination in the country and the wider region. Theborder crossing gets a steady stream of traffic from neighbouringcountries for that reason, with visitors taking advantage of thelow taxes of the region.

    Outlets range from high-end electronics shops sellingthe latest in computers and televisions to street vendors sellingall manner of goods. Crowds of visitors swamp the city on BlackFriday, the day following the fourth Thursday in November, whensales reach a frenzied peak.

    Shopping is the major draw card to Ciudad del Esteand the city is not considered particularly attractive to touristsbeyond the retail opportunities, but there are some sightseeingoptions and a variety of good restaurants to enjoy. The city isconveniently located for tourists heading to Iguazú Falls or theSaltos del Monday waterfall, and idyllic camping is available lessthan two miles (3km) away in the Refugio Tati Yupi.

    Cathedral of Ciudad del Este Cathedral of Ciudad del Este Leon Petrosyan
    Encarnacion

    Encarnacion, located 200 miles (374km) from Asuncion,is primarily a market town. The entire city was relocated when theYacyreta Dam was built, and now a massive bazaar occupies the oldtown, offering all manner of goods for sale. Many good places toeat are found within this wonderful chaos.

    The main attractions of Encarnacion are the ruins ofthe Jesuit Missions of La Santisima, Trinidad de Parana, and Jesusde Tavarangue, listed jointly as a UNESCO World Heritage Site anddepicted in the famous 1981 film The Mission.

    The city also boasts a pleasant artificial beachalong the river, which is a popular place for sunning, swimming,and recreational fun like jet skiing and boating. Encarnacion hostsParaguay's most famous carnival celebrations in January andFebruary, making this a fun time to visit the city and join in therevelry.

    Encarnacion skyline Encarnacion skyline Motorway065
    Filadelfia

    An island of German culture in Paraguay, Filadelfiawas founded as a Russian Mennonite colony in 1930. The neat littlecommunity resembles a German suburb more than a Paraguayan city,and lacks a town centre.

    Visitors can learn about the history of the colony atthe Jakob Unger Museum, which offers tours in German and Spanish;and the Haushaltsmuseum, which has a particularly interestingexhibit on the Chaco War.

    One of the most idiosyncratic sights in Filadelfia isthe statue of Fred Astaire on the Avenue Hindenburg, while theshady park is filled with butterflies. The tiny town has only a fewbars and restaurants and is supposedly secretly patronised bycelebrities in disguise as there are no televisions.

    It is a quirky sort of place but Filadelfia continuesto attract a steady stream of curious visitors. The town is also asort of gateway to the Chaco region because it is the last stop forthings like groceries before heading out into the wild.

    Filadelfia, Paraguay Filadelfia, Paraguay Ilosuna

    Phrase Book

    English Pronounciation

    Asuncion has a humid subtropical climate characterised by hot,humid summers, and mild winters. The city is relatively rainythroughout the year, but with noticeably less rain between June andSeptember. The climate is hot and humid most of the year, withaverage high temperatures of between 84°F (29°C) and 92°F (33°C)between October and March.

    The coldest time of year is June to August, when averagetemperatures are between 55°F (13°C) and 76°F (24°C). The cooler,drier months are generally considered more comfortable for travel,with most travellers choosing to visit between March andOctober.

    Paraguay, situated on the Tropic of Capricorn, enjoys a hotsubtropical climate, with long sultry summers (October to March)and an average annual temperature of about 75ºF (24ºC). The east ofthe country is more humid and wet, with only slight seasonalchanges in temperature and rainfall throughout the year. Thewestern Chaco region has a tropical wet-and-dry climate, almostsemi-arid, with plenty of rainfall in the summer months but severedry spells in winter.

    Generally, the best time to visit Paraguay is between March andOctober when it is cooler, as the peak summer months (December toFebruary) can be uncomfortably hot and humid.

    Silvio Pettirossi International Airport
    Location: The airport is situated in Luque, a suburb of the capitalAsuncion, about 10 miles (16km) from the city centre.
    Time: GMT -4.
    Getting to the city: A bus and taxi service connects to the city; buses are verycheap although slow; travel time is about 45 minutes. The bus stopis a short walk from the terminal, and services run from about 5amto 8pm. Taxis are available 24 hours a day.
    Car Rental: Several car rental companies are represented at the airport,including American Rent A Car, Sudamerica Rent A Car, and TravelRent A Car.
    Fascilities: The airport terminal offers currency exchange facilities, ATMs,baggage wrapping, a duty free shop, and restaurants.
    Money:

    The currency of Paraguay is the Paraguayan guarani (PYG). UnitedStates Dollars are also widely accepted. Visitors are advised touse banks or official Bureaux de Change for exchanging money ratherthan street exchange kiosks because there are many counterfeitnotes in circulation. Credit cards are becoming more widelyaccepted with larger hotels and restaurants accepting MasterCard,Visa, and, in some cases, American Express. There are numerous ATMsin urban centres, which generally take Cirrus, Maestro, and Visacards, but visitors who use them are advised to be vigilant due tothe risk of crime. Banks are open on weekdays only between about8.45am and 3pm.

    Language:

    Both Spanish and indigenous Guarani are officiallanguages. English is not widely spoken or understood.

    Electricity:

    Electrical current is 220 volts, 50 Hz. European-styleplugs with two round pins are standard.

    Entry Requirements:

    United States citizens require a valid passport and a visa toenter Paraguay, but visas can be issued on arrival at Asuncion fora max stay of 90 days.

    British citizens require a valid passport valid for 6 monthsfrom the date of exit, but can enter without a visa for up to 90days.

    Canadians require a valid passport and a visa to enter Paraguay,but visas can be issued on arrival at Asuncion for a max stay of 90days.

    Australians require a valid passport and a visa to enterParaguay, but visas can be issued on arrival at Asuncion for a maxstay of 90 days.

    South African citizens require a valid passport, but no visa isrequired for stays of up to 90 days.

    Citizens of Ireland require a valid passport, but no visa isrequired for stays of up to 90 days.

    United States citizens require a valid passport and a visa toenter Paraguay, but visas can be issued on arrival at Asuncion fora max stay of 90 days.

    New Zealand citizens require a valid passport and a visa toenter Paraguay, but visas can be issued on arrival at Asuncion fora max stay of 90 days.

    Passport/Visa Note:Visa:

    Those requiring visas must apply to the nearest Paraguayanconsulate. It is recommended that travellers always have sixmonths' validity on their passports as immigration officials mayimpose restrictions other than those officially stated.Vaccinations against yellow fever are required for passengersarriving within six days of leaving or transiting infectedareas.

    Travel Health:

    All travellers should be vaccinated for hepatitis Aand hepatitis B, and those planning to travel in rural areas andeat outside of hotels and restaurants should consider a vaccinationfor typhoid. All travellers arriving from yellow fever risk areasneed to carry proof of vaccination to enter Paraguay and thevaccination is also generally recommended for travel in thecountry.

    Travellers should also be up to date withvaccinations for MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) andtetanus-diphtheria. Malaria medication is recommended for travel tothe departments of Alto Parana, Caaguazu, and Canendiyu. Tap watershould not be drunk unless it has first been boiled, filtered, orchemically disinfected. Caution should be exercised with streetfood and any uncooked food.

    Healthcare facilities are good in Asuncion but may bevery limited beyond the capital. Comprehensive travel and healthinsurance is recommended and all required medication should becarried into the country, along with a signed and dated letter froma doctor detailing what it is and why it is needed.

    Tipping:

    Some restaurants do add service charges but this will beindicated on the bill. If no service charge has been added, a tipof about 10 percent is appropriate. For porters and other services,small change is acceptable. Taxi drivers appreciate visitorsrounding up the fare.

    Safety Information:

    Most visits to Paraguay are trouble-free but visitors shouldnote that incidents of violent crime are on the increase,particularly street crime like pickpocketing and muggings inAsuncion, Ciudad del Este, and Pedro Juan Caballero.

    Visitors should take sensible precautions such as not carryinglarge amounts of cash, wearing visible jewellery, or displayingvaluables, particularly when walking the streets or using publictransport.

    Those who travel around the country should note that there arefrequently military and police roadblocks and checkpoints inoperation. Travellers are advised to avoid protests whichoccasionally become violent.

    Local Customs:

    Visitors should respect the fact that Paraguayans are aconservative people who value old-fashioned courtesies.Homosexuality is legal but public displays of affection are frownedupon. All residents and visitors are required to carryidentification at all times. Generally, authorities will accept aphotocopy of documents like passports. As with neighbouringcountries, locals enjoy a siesta over lunch when they snooze ordrink maté (local tea) with friends. Shops and businesses may beclosed at this time.

    Business:

    Those heading for business meetings in Paraguay would be welladvised to hire an interpreter or have a working knowledge ofSpanish; English is not widely spoken, even in the capital.Business appointments are formal and generally occur in themornings.

    Dress should be conservative, preferably lightweight businesssuits for men and the equivalent for women. Business hours are fromabout 8am to 12pm and 2.30pm to 6pm Monday to Friday, and 8am to12pm on Saturday.

    Communications:

    The international direct dialling code for Paraguay is +595 andarea codes are in use. There is mobile GSM 1900 coverage in themain urban areas, with several network providers. There are someinternet cafes in Asuncion and some restaurants and hotels alsooffer internet facilities.

    Duty Free:

    Visitors to Paraguay may bring into the country amounts oftobacco products, alcohol and perfume deemed sufficient forpersonal use during their stay. The value of goods brought into thecountry should not exceed USD 300 if arriving by air or water, andUSD 150 if arriving by land.

    Useful Contacts:

    Tourist Hotline: 0800 11 3030.

    Official Tourism Website (Spanish only): www.senatur.gov.py

    Paraguay Embassies:

    Embassy of Paraguay, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 4836960.

    Embassy of Paraguay, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 76104180.

    Embassy of Paraguay, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 567 1283.

    Embassy of Paraguay, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 3471047.

    Consulate-General of Paraguay, Canberra, Australia: +61 (0)26156 4522.

    Foreign Embassies in Paraguay :

    United States Embassy, Asuncion: +595 (0)21 213 715.

    British Embassy, Asuncion: +595 (0)21 614 588.

    Honorary Consulate of Canada, Asuncion: +595 (0)21 227 207.

    South African Honourary Consulate, Asuncion: +595 (0)21 441971.

    Australian Embassy, Buenos Aires, Argentina (also responsiblefor Paraguay): +54 (0)11 4779 3500.

    New Zealand Embassy, Buenos Aires, Argentina (also responsiblefor Paraguay): +54 (0)11 5070 0700.

    Paraguay Emergency Numbers : Emergencies: 911.
    Paraguay