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Carve Your Own Trail in Paraguay

Carve Your Own Trail in Paraguay

story by: House of Travel

Despite being enviously situated at the heart of one of the most thrilling continents on the planet, Paraguay gets little love from tourists who head straight for the big attractions elsewhere in South America. However, this lack of popularity is a blessing in disguise as it allows you to ditch the crowds and go mingle with the locals. For those who are willing to put in some effort, are capable of travelling independently and aren't afraid of using a few hand gestures to communicate, this is an excellent choice of holiday destination. 

To help kick off your South American adventure, check out our list of the top five things to do in Paraguay.

Itaipu Dam

There's something quite captivating about dams. They're beautiful, in a manmade, painstakingly engineered kind of way, and serve as a testament to what humanity is capable of. This is certainly true of the Itaipu Dam, which measures nearly 200 metres in height and stretches for almost eight kilometres between the Paraguayan and Brazilian border. It serves as something of a collaboration between humans and mother Earth, with the water that flows through the dam providing around 85 per cent of Paraguay's electricity and 20 per cent of Brazil's. Take a tour inside the dam to get a better understanding of how the system works. Finish off your visit with a stroll on top of the dam's enormous concrete wall and prepare to be humbled by the sheer size of everything.

Jesuit Missions of La Santísima Trinidad de Paraná and Jesús de Tavarangue

They're not quite as spectacular as, say, Machu Picchu, but the fact that they draw a mere fraction of the crowds make Jesuit Missions of La Santísima Trinidad de Paraná and Jesús de Tavarangue a decent alternative if you're in the mood to explore ancient history. The ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are two examples of small settlements that were established by Jesuit missionaries some time in the 17th and 18th centuries. The colonies are fairly similar in layout and constitution, comprising a church, private homes, workshops, a cemetery and gardens. The two sites are only about 10 kilometres apart, meaning that you can combine them into one day. Take some time to investigate the area and be sure to pack the camera.

Mbaracayú Biosphere Reserve

Dive deep into the wilderness at the Mbaracayú Biosphere Reserve, Paraguay's most important natural attraction. Covering an enormous 70,000 hectares, the reserve is home to more than 400 bird species, and is rightly treasured for its incredible diversity. There's an intense emphasis on the careful preservation of the park, and local awareness programmes are in full swing to promote eco-friendly practices. There are a few different operators offering tours of the area - as always, make sure you book with a company that shows respect for the environment.

Ybycuí National Park

A nice complement to the Biosphere Reserve is Ybycuí National Park. Located in the south of Paraguay, this park is an excellent destination for outdoor enthusiasts, as well as anyone who wants to get up close with the country's flora and fauna. The park may not be the largest, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in natural diversity. A quick exploration of the area will reveal a multitude of hikes and trails of varying lengths, a collection of stunning waterfalls and a landscape overflowing with lush, green vegetation.One of the key attractions of the park is its spectacular butterfly population, which can be found all through the park. Ybycui is quite popular with the locals, so come on a weekday for a tranquil experience and a greater sense of peace and quiet.

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