Paraguay

Paraguay

Paraguay is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and south west, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. It is referred to as the Heart of America because of its very central location. Europeans first arrived in the area in the early 16th century. Today’s capital of Paraguay, the city of Asunción, was founded on 15 August 1537, by the Spanish explorer Juan de Salazar de Espinosa. The city then became the centre of the Spanish colonial province, as well as a significant site for Jesuit missionaries. Paraguay was once the domain of nomadic indigenous tribes before the Spanish colonised it in the early 16th century.  These days it’s one of the least visited countries in South America.

Though it is a landlocked country, Paraguay is surrounded by rivers and lakes, which supply some of the cities with an abundance of fish. The lakeside resorts of Aregua are an example of the beautiful water routes that swim through Paraguay. Aregua lays just 28 km from the Capital, Asuncion, and between a group of rolling hills with a distinctive rock formation (found only in 3 places in the world) and a beautiful blue lake, Ypacaraí lake. The Ypacarai lake is a major body of water that feeds out in the Paraguay river. Three cities surround the lake: Aregua, Ypacarai and San Bernardino. San Bernardino was founded in 1881 by German immigrants. It was renamed after General Bernardino Caballero, president of Paraguay between 1880 and 1886. It is a hot spot for vacationers and many people of wealth from Paraguay own lake houses there. Paraguay has suffered an important war against Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. The Triple Alliance War cost the lives of 90% of Paraguay’s entire population. The war lasted from 1864 to 1870 and in order to rebuild their population, Paraguay opened a special policy to welcome immigrants. Another very important aspect of this part of the country is that it was also a destination for many Jesuit missions. The Catholic Jesuits had a lasting effect on Paraguayans, in that introduced Catholic Christianity to its people, which served as a counter-attack against Nazi ideology infused by German forces. Today close to 90% of the country is Catholic.

200 miles north of San Bernardino are the jungles of the Mbaracayu Nature Reserve, hunting ground to the indigenous Ache people. When the Jesuits left Paraguay, indigenous groups like the Ache and Guarani struggled to survive. Nature reserves like Mbaracyu have been a tremendous help to reviving their culture.  These days the Ache live outside the nature reserve but to preserve their culture the government allows them to hunt in the reserve the traditional way.

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When to Visit

Rainy season in December to April with frequent flooding in the south-east. Very hot between October and March. Dry season travel (June to August) is easier.

What to Wear

For Paraguay you’ll be looking to take more practical clothing.  If you’re going near Ciudad del Este, the Pantanal or any forested areas be aware that there will likely be a mosquito fest so cover up & make sure you have plenty of mosquito repellent to hand.  Cuidad del Este is also a malarial zone so ensure you have the correct anti-malarials

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Getting there

International flights to Paraguay are likely to be more expensive and convoluted journeys than flying into a neighbouring country.  You can get flights to Asunción from most capital cities in South America with TAM Airlines, or fly to Foz do Iguazu in Brazil and then travel overland after visiting the spectacular Iguazu Falls.

Getting Around:

Most convenient method of transport is local buses.  If you hire a car in either country, be prepared to take your life into your own hands due to the low standard of driving.

 

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Practical Info

Currency:

Paraguayan Guarani (Gs)

€1 = 5,440.42 Gs

£1 = 6,951.37 Gs

$1 = 4,427.00 Gs

For current Exchange rates visit www.XE.com

Population:

Total population in Paraguay amounts to around 6.3 million as of 2009.

Language:There are 23 languages spoken in Paraguay but Spanish is the predominate language. German, Guarani, Ache are also spoken in various parts of the nation.

Don’t forget to pack:

1. Mosquito repellent

2. Anti-Malarials (if you’re going to Ciudad del Este or Iguazu Falls)

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Must See

1. Jesuit Missions, Paraguay

2. Iguazu Falls (not in Paraguay, but in Brazil close to the Paraguayan border)

3. Sunset at Casapueblo

Sleep

HOTEL ARMELE, Asuncion

http://www.hotelarmele.com.py/

MOISES BERTONI FOUNDATION – Reserva Mbaracayu

http://www.mbertoni.org.py/

HOTEL SANTA MARIA, Santa Mara de Fe

http://www.santamariahotel.org/

ASUNCION GRAN HOTEL, Ciudad del Este

http://www.asunciongranhotel.com/

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Useful Websites

–          Jesuit missions. We filmed at la Santisima Trinidad de Parana.

–          Ciudad del Este – tax free shopping zone

–          National Pantheon Of The Heroes in Paraguay

–          Sapucai Old Railway Museum

–          Carnival – throughout Paraguay

ITAIPU DAM

http://www.itaipubinacional.gov.py/

IGUAZU FALLS (although technically not in Paraguay)

www.cataratasdoiguacu.com.br/

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