Scene of Graham Greene’s mysterious thriller The Honorary Consul, Paraguay charms visitors with its relaxed and welcoming atmosphere.
The indigenous people love to share their history and culture over a cup of tereré, refreshing iced herbal tea. Guaraní is still the main language despite a long period under colonial rule - the vestiges of which can be seen in the capital Asunción’s cobbled centre and several sleepy old towns nearby, or in great steam engines rusting beside abandoned workshops.
In the south, among lush forests, are the ruins of great Jesuit missions, progressive communities that integrated with the local people, promoting literacy and healthy living. Trinidad, the least-visited of UNESCO world heritage sites, is extremely impressive, needing little effort to imagine these splendid buildings and churches in their heyday.
Elsewhere, the semi-arid Chaco region is scattered with indigenous villages and Mennonite communities. Both here and in the far north wildlife outnumbers the human population, with everything from jaguars and pumas, to tapirs, peccaries, giant otters and vast flocks of water birds.
Tourism in Paraguay is in its infancy, so whilst you will be unlikely to find enough to occupy you for a two week stay, a few well-spent days will be very rewarding.
Here are some of our Paraguay highlights
Steam train graveyard
Visit Sapucay to see the abandoned steam train workshops. Carriages, lathes and old steam engines, including an enormous one from Lincoln with 3 boilers, compete for space with dusty documents, ledgers, and general paraphernalia. Very eerie!
Experience the country life by staying at a rustic, traditional working estancia for a couple of nights. Try some riding or walk around the farm while enjoying the views of rolling surrounding countryside.
Southern Paraguay's Jesuit ruins are reminiscent of a more peaceful past when Jesuit missions integrated with local communities. The most impressive is Trinidad, still so complete is takes very little imagination to envsion the vast mission in its heydey.
Yet another superb holiday organised by Last Frontiers and we hope it won't be the last! - GD