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Paraguay

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Paraguay is a landlocked country situated in central South America, surrounded by Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil. A country of big rivers, green landscapes, folklore and a rich indigenous culture, it's relatively small compared to its neighbours, with an area of 406,752 km2 – about the same size as Germany. Paraguay is lacking in world-famous attractions, and tourist-oriented establishments are few and far between. But those visitors who do come will be rewarded with an experience of the real South America: colonial history, ruins of missions, vast wilderness, and a strong mix of European and indigenous cultures.

Regions

Cities

  • 1 Asunción - the capital
  • 2 Areguá
  • 3 Ciudad del Este - this busy border city is also Paraguay's gateway to the Iguazu Falls
  • 4 Concepción
  • 5 Encarnación and its Jesuit Missions of La Santisima Trinidad de Parana and Jesus de Tavarangue
  • Filadelfia - the departmental seat of Boquerón, founded as a Mennonite colony
  • 7 Pilar
  • Villeta

Other destinations

  • New Australia - a late 19th century Australian settlement in the southern part of the country.
  • San Bernardino - the liveliest resort town of Paraguay, east of the capital.
  • Trinidad - a small village near Encarnación famous for the Jesuit ruins Santísima of Trinidad de Paraná, the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Paraguay.

Itineraries

  • 3 Paraguay River

Understand

Not often regarded as a major travel destination, Paraguay has been experiencing a steady increase of visitors. Paraguay is South America's second-poorest country and it is a common sight to see beggars asking for money on Asunción's intersections.

A major producer of beef, so do not be surprised to find cattle eating grass just a few centimetres from the highways, especially in the Chaco region and Misiones Department. Paraguay is the world's fifth largest exporter of soya beans, so expect to see hundreds of square kilometres of soya plantations especially in the southeast, east and northeast regions.

Brazilians often come over to Paraguayan border towns to shop for imported goods thanks to the favourable currency exchange rate and lower taxes on electronics, alcohol and most duty-free items.

History

The Guaraní were the most significant indigenous group inhabiting what is now Eastern Paraguay, living as semi-nomadic hunters who also practised subsistence agriculture. The Chaco region was home to other groups of indigenous tribes such as the Guaycurú and Payaguá, who survived by hunting, gathering and fishing.

In the 16th century Paraguay, formerly called "The Giant Province of the Indies", was born as a result of the encounter of Spanish conquerors with the native indigenous groups. The Spaniards started the colonization period which lasted for three centuries. Since the foundation of Asunción in 1537, Paraguay has managed to keep a lot of its indigenous character and identity. Nowadays, the mestizos (Spanish and Amerindian) account for more than 80% of the country's 6.6 million inhabitants and Guarani is, side by side with Spanish, the country's official language.

In the past, Franciscan and Jesuit missions mingled with the Guaranis' dream of Yvy maraë´y, a land without evil, and produced singular societies. The ruins of the Jesuit Missions of La Santisima Trinidad de Parana and Jesus de Tavarangue, UNESCO World Heritage sites, and several villages throughout the country, are witnesses to that peaceful past. On 15 May 1811 a revolution ended the Spanish colonial rule and this day is celebrated as Paraguay's independence day.

Shortly after independence came the paranoid dictatorship of Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia (1814-1840) who, convinced of plots to kill him, declared that the buildings in Asunción had to be low enough so that he could see who was on the roof while riding his horse and that at every street corner he should be able to see in all four directions so that would-be assassins would have nowhere to hide. The destruction of colonial buildings that didn’t fit in with this scheme robbed Asunción of some architectural gems.

But Paraguay also has a history of wars, having fought with all its neighbours. It was one of the richest countries in the mid-19th century (the only one in America to have railways at that time) before the disastrous 1865-70 War of the Triple Alliance. Paraguay was invaded by the allied forces of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay and after 5 years of heavy fighting and utter destruction, the country surrendered. The result was the loss of two-thirds of all adult males and a great part of its territory.

A unique event was the scene of the first attempt at Communism when 700 people sailed from Sydney, Australia, in 1893 to found "New Australia." Two-thirds of the immigrants eventually returned to Australia but around 2,000 Paraguayans can trace their heritage to Australia.

To complete the fighting with its neighbors, in the 1930s another war broke out, the Chaco War of 1932-35 engaged Paraguay with Bolivia over the possession of the Chaco region. When the war ended, large and economically important areas of the Chaco that belonged to Paraguay were given to Bolivia as part of the peace treaty of 1938.

After World War II Paraguay received many immigrants. New colonies of Germans, Russians, Italians, Ukrainians, Japanese and Mennonites were established in different parts of the countryside areas of Paraguay.

The 35-year military dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner was overthrown in 1989 and, despite a marked increase in political infighting, democratic governments have been in power since then. Modern Paraguay is largely based upon political uncertainty and economic hardship. Since the early 1980s, Paraguay is making the difficult decision to move to a more modern market economy. The economy has grown and democratic elections have taken place. While Asuncion is filled with new economic prospects and construction, much of the country remains underdeveloped, consisting of deficient infrastructure.

Geography

With a total surface area of 406,752 km², Paraguay is divided by the Paraguay River into two well-differentiated natural regions: the Eastern or Oriental Region and the Western or Chaco Region, each one with their own fauna, flora, and particular characteristics.

Although Paraguay is landlocked, the country is watered by numerous rivers, streams, and lakes, which are all part of the Rio de la Plata river basin. The two principal rivers are the river Paraguay, which divides the country in two, and the river Paraná, which forms the frontier with Paraná state in Brazil and with Corrientes and Misiones provinces in Argentina.

Overall Paraguay is a quite flat country; while its western neighbours Argentina and Bolivia include mountains higher than 6,000 m above sea level, the highest point in Paraguay is Cerro Tres Kandú with a height of 842 m.

Climate

Paraguay is generally hot for most of the year. The fact is that the Tropic of Capricorn passes through the city of Belén in Northern Paraguay, dividing the country into a tropical area to the north and a temperate one to the south. The hottest time of year is from November to February when daytime temperatures can peak around 45°C and high atmospheric pressure makes just walking along the street a tough task. Winter (June to September) is pleasantly warm during the day (around 20–25°C), generally sunny and dry but frequently cool at night with the occasional morning frost. January is the hottest month with an average maximum temperate of 36°C, and July is the coldest with a minimum average of 9°C.

Eastern Paraguay can be very humid, while western Paraguay (the Chaco) is dry. There is no real rainy season, but from September to November electric storms become more frequent and travelling off-road can be more difficult. The climate generally follows the prevailing winds, viento sur (southerly winds) bringing cooler temperatures from Patagonia and viento norte (northern winds) bringing hotter weather from the tropics.

Get in

Entry requirements

Visa-free entry

Citizens of Mercosur member countries (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Venezuela) as well as of Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia do not need a passport to enter the country, only an identity card (cédula de identidad). All other visitors travelling to Paraguay are required to carry a valid passport. Visas are not required for visitors from the European Union, Central and South American countries, as well as South Korea, Japan, Israel, South Africa and Taiwan. Instead a tourist stamp for 90 days is provided.

In case you leave the country via one of the many land borders, an exit stamp is not necessarily required if you travel visa-free and receive a proper entry stamp in the following country. On (re-)entry into Paraguay, no one will check your existing stamps for completeness. Also, in case you visit Ciudad del Este, you might travel forth and back between the border for various reasons, hence just having entry stamps of both countries (Brazil and Paraguay) is convenient. Btw. entering/leaving through one of the many land borders can be a good way of leaving a country in case you accidentally overstayed.

Visa entry

Visas are required for citizens of Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and Canada, though granted on arrival at the Asunción Airport in exchange for a US$100-160 "reciprocity fee" (payable in cash, must be US dollars. "CB" and "D" series US$100 bills are not accepted). Travellers of all other nationalities should check the visa requirements for their country with the nearest Paraguayan Embassy before travelling to Paraguay.

Except for the countries named above, visas must be obtained in advance through the Paraguayan Embassy or Consulate, as they are not available upon entry to the country.

Land borders

Paraguay has many land border crossings and allows for easy entry from Bolivia, Brazil and Argentina if you have a valid visa or can enter visa-free. Border formalities are sometimes not carried out at the border but at the next bigger city/town, like in Concepción coming from Bolivia or Brazil, or in Mariscal Estigarribia coming from Bolivia or Argentina. Otherwise Formosa to Asunción, Ciudad del Este and Encarnación are straight forward.

By plane

Although it is in the centre of South America, there isn't an abundance of flights. The only intercontinental flight is the four-times a week Air Europa's offer from Madrid Barajas to Asuncion, so most overseas travellers must change planes either in São Paulo (for those coming from North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia), Buenos Aires or Santiago (for those coming from Australia and the Pacific), and Lima or Panama City (for those coming from Central America and the Caribbean). The main international airport is Silvio Pettirosi (ASU IATA) 10 km outside the capital, Asunción.

The following airlines offer direct flights to Paraguay:

  • Aerolíneas Argentinas (to Buenos Aires).
  • Air Europa (to Madrid and Cordoba).
  • Amaszonas (to Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Salta, Corrientes, Campo Grande, Porto Alegre, Campinas, Rio de Janeiro and Iquique).
  • Avianca (to Lima).
  • Copa Airlines (to Panama City).
  • GOL (to Sao Paulo).
  • LATAM (to Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Santiago and Lima).

By train

There is a train shuttle between Encarnación, Paraguay and Posadas, Argentina. The service connects both sides of the international border in 10 minutes crossing the Paraná River through the San Roque González de Santa Cruz International Bridge.

By bus

Bus service is available to and from a wide range of South American cities. You can take a bus from Santiago, Chile; São Paulo, Brazil; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Cordoba, Argentina; Santa Cruz, Bolivia; Montevideo, Uruguay; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Buses are very modern and some buses have seats that fully recline into beds. In Spanish they are called cama. Semi-cama recline most of the way.

The bus to and from Bolivia crosses the Chaco. Only one bus company does the trip, from Santa Cruz to Asunción, with possible stops at Villamontes (Bolivia) or a few kilometers of Filadelfia (Paraguay) but typically for the same price. Beware that tourists should bargain, with minimum prices of USD45 (payable in local currency or in USD). The trip takes at least a full day, and easily more. The bus coming from Santa Cruz passes Villamontes at about 02:00.

The bus from Ciudad Del Este (Paraguay) at the border with Brazil is typically cheaper for going to Rio or São Paulo than the bus going from Foz do Iguaçu (Brazil). To go to Puerto Iguazú (Argentina) many city buses cross Brazil (without Brazilian border control) into Argentina for only AR$10 or ?10,000. Best visit the border in advance to get an exit stamp for Paraguay because not all buses make a stop, otherwise ask before jumping on a bus.

By boat

Two boats travel regularly from Concepción up the Paraguay River to Bahía Negra (near the Bolivian border) or Fuerte Olimpo (mostly for Brazil) once a week and back stopping at all Paraguayan ports allowing for entry from/to Brazil and Bolivia. These boats were not designed to carry a great number of passengers, but have private cabins for up to 4 people. So, expect a sticky crowded experience, but you can buy just about anything on board, even cold beer.

From Bolivia you need to organise transport from the southern end of the Corumbá road, most like using the Estación Biológica “Los Tres Gigantes” option. However, there seems to be a proper trail through the jungle to Bahía Negra (~10 km) from the most southern corner of Bolivia (in this region). Check out the maps and satellite views.

Get around

By bus

Buses, also called Colectivos in Paraguay, are the most common public transport. There are many companies running different lines. You must check which one serves your destination.

When leaving from Asunción, the web page of the bus terminal has information about ticket prices for all destinations and bus companies as well as departure times. The site is in Spanish only and there's no information about travel times nor schedules for trips towards Asuncion.

Some intercity bus companies include:

  • Nuestra Señora de la Asunción
  • La Encarnacena

By taxi

Taxis are expensive compared to other prices in Paraguay, and in Asunción the fares are determined by the meter. Tipping in taxis is not customary among locals (although drivers do appreciate it). Expect to pay a small surcharge on top of the fare if you are taking a taxi late in the evening, or on a Sunday.

Outside Asunción there are no meters so make sure you decide on a price before you get in. Bargaining on a price may be useful, as tourists have been asked for USD10 for a five-minute ride. To prevent any disputes, always ask your hotel concierge how much the real cost of the fare should be.

By car

There are highways connecting all the major regions of Paraguay, but most of them are one lane each way. You may hit toll booths along the way. Police may pull you over for any reason and will expect bribes. Locals may say that the most common way to avoid giving away too much money on the bribes requested by the 'polícia caminera' (road police) is by giving them a small guarani bill while shaking their hands when they stop your car. Also, it is advised that, when they ask you, play dumb until they let you go with a warning and do not admit to travelling through Paraguay for the first time. Refrain from handing out bribes (known as coimas in Paraguay) since it is only harmful for the country. Tell them that you don´t carry money and that you weren´t aware that was not allowed. If you have actually committed something wrong, you should pay the fine and always ask for a receipt.

You will probably only face this kind of problem with the police on the country roads. These problems do not generally occur in any of the wealthier areas of the major cities where you can keep a somewhat 'nicer' relationship with the police.

By thumb

Contrary to expectations, tugged between Northern Argentina, Bolivia and Western Brazil, which are not very popular with hitch-hikers, travelling by thumb in Paraguay is possible and surprisingly easy for tourists, even though not generally common. Along the main roads with much traffic you will always find the odd helper that takes you along the way, even couples and women. Often, you will not have to wait longer than 15 min, but barely an hour. Hitch-hiking can be considerably faster than taking the bus around Paraguay that stops every 5 km to pick up/off passengers—think about it. Nevertheless, on rural road traffic can be very light, and often people use motorbikes or cover only short distances, thus hesitant to pick you up. But you can always try and opt for the bus if the thumb does not work.

Do not expect big conversations with locals like in Southern Argentina—the attitude of people is more like in Chile. But Paraguay offers far better access to passing cars than Chile with its major and complicated highways in the center.

By train

There is no scheduled passenger rail traffic in Paraguay.

Talk

Both Spanish and Guaraní are official. Most people in Paraguay speak Spanish and use of English is very limited. Outside of Asunción and big cities Guarani is all you will hear. Due to the extensive use of Guarani, even those who have managed to learn Spanish do not always speak it very well.

In Paraguay, Guarani is almost always spoken as a mix of Guarani and Spanish, known as Jopara, meaning "mixed" in Guarani. The number system in Guarani is rarely used, and is almost always replaced with the Spanish number system.

In Paraguay vos is used instead of tu. There is a slight change in conjugation but not big enough that you won't be understood using tu. This vos is not the same as vosotros. Stems do not change in verbs when using "vos", and the ending is always stressed. For example "tienes" changes to "tenés", "puedes" changes to "podés", "vienes" changes to "venís" etc.

In the northern and eastern parts of Paraguay, Portuguese is spoken widely. In some places, Nueva Esperanza (80% Portuguese speaking), Katuetè (60%) the majority speak Portuguese, almost always the result of Paraguayan born, or first generation Brazilian immigrants. There are many cases of Paraguayans, who were born during the era of Brazilian immigration who speak only Portuguese at home, although also fluent Guarani, but very little or no Spanish.

There are also a number of Mennonite communities throughout Paraguay which speak Low German and regular High German.

See

  • The capital Asunción hosts a large part of the country's sights.
  • In Trinidad you can see the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Paraguay; the Jesuit Missions of La Santisima Trinidad de Paraná and Jesus de Tavarangue.
  • There is a well in the city of Santani (San Pedro) that does not go dry. The town's museum also contains a large snakeskin.
  • The Itaipu dam near Ciudad del Este which is the largest hydroelectric dam in the world, measured by generated power. Contrary to the Brazilian side, all tours to the dam are free, just some require early registration.
  • Also in Ciudad del Este (actually in Presidente Franco just south), you can find the impressive Salto Del Monday waterfall—not as large as the nearby Iguazu Falls, but definitely worth a visit.
  • Encarnación is a laid-back city with the beautiful San Jose (river) Beach and a relaxing promenade where you can just hang around for a couple of days and enjoy the local bar culture.
  • The Catedral Virgen de Caacupé in Caacupé is a beautiful church with a tower viewpoint not far from Asunción.
  • The Iglesia San Buenaventura de Yaguarón (or Templo de San Buenaventure) in Yaguarón inhibits impressive baroque wood carvings inside a rather unconventional but for this region typical church (closed Mondays).

Do

  • Walk through the historic Asunción city center. Many former grand buildings are suffering from great decay, but if you look past graffiti walls, you can imagine Asunción's past splendour. At nights, you can take a cab ride and enjoy it fully illuminated. There are many bars, restaurantes in this area.
  • Sights around Asunción. There are some interesting sights around Asunción well worth a day or 2 day trip.
  • Aquidabán Cargo Ferry. Take this 3 day ferry up north for a quite different experience.
  • Estación Biológica Los Tres Gigantes. Visit this nature park in the Pantanal. The Pantanal spreads over Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay and inherits an extraordinary set of local flora and fauna.
  • Cerro Corá National Park. If you are in search for a 1-2 day national park that combines short trails, history and beautiful landscape, head here.
  • Nature Reserve Cordillera San Rafael. Far larger than Cerro Corá is this nature reserve between Encarnación and Ciudad del Este.
  • Snow Park, Ciudad Del Este. If you are looking for something out of the ordinary, check out the Snow Park in Ciudad Del Este. Grab a board or some skiers and hit the piste.
  • Contrary to Argentina and Bolivia, national parks and historical sites run by the government are generally free or very cheap—the three Jesuit sites near Trinidad, for instance, are just €4. On the other hand, some parks are run privately and demand steep entrance and accommodation prices, like the Mbaracayú Forest Nature Reserve. However, they might cater more specifically for tourists with the intention to deliver "results" and could be worth it.

Events

  • Areté Guazú (Big Festival) - a three-day indigenous celebration held between February/March in many locations, including Filadelfia and Mariscal Estigarribia.
  • Expo Rodeo Trébol - the largest expo and rodeo event of the Chaco, held mid-August in Loma Plata.
  • Transchaco rally - major sports event that affects the Central Chaco Region during late September.

Buy

Money

The currency is the guaraní (ISO 4217 code: PYG), denoted by the symbol ?. The abbreviation "GS." is generally used locally, and it is used in Wikivoyage articles as well. Banknotes in denominations of ?2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 circulate.

Always check the exchange rate quotations on the internet or several major newspapers before exchanging money. However, since summer 2015 exchange rates to the US dollar have been quite stable.

ATMs

ATMs are widespread available, even in places like Vallemí. Most banks (Banco Continental, BBVA/B24, Regional, Vision Banco, Itaú, Banco Familiar, Banco Interfisa, etc.) however belong to the same network (Red Infonet) and charge GS.25,000 for each withdrawal with credit card, but allow amounts up to GS.1,500,000. BNF uses a different network but is not reliably working with Visa. You might be lucky with an international bank, but they are hard to find or just do not exist.

Money exchange

Never exchange money with the vendors at the street. They usually have very bad rates and cannot really be trusted.

In Asunción, there are many regular cambios, which offer quite competitive rates for US dollars, with the exchange rate being barely 1% off the interbank exchange rate.

Thus way, exchanging money instead of using credit card and ATM is actually preferable. Although, carrying too much (foreign) money on the other hand is neither a good idea. However, if you are coming from Uruguay, it might be a good idea to use the ability of their ATMs to cash out US dollars for this purpose. Otherwise, in Paraguya, you will always have to withdraw larger amounts of cash with ATMs to keep the fee percentages low.

Prices

Paraguay has been ranked by several research studies as the cheapest country in the world, measured through Purchasing Power Parity. Prices in Paraguay are very low and a budget traveller will be able to get by on as little as US$7-14 a day and even less if camping. A clean, single hotel room out of Asunción should not cost more than US$10.

However, when travelling on budget level, this cheapness is not regularly achievable. Sometimes there are no hostels around and one has to settle with a little more expensive hospedaje room (€5-10) in remote regions. Also, bus travel is generally more expensive than in Bolivia due to the fewer competing bus companies. This can increase travel costs and make Paraguay a more expensive destinations than Bolivia or Peru. Nevertheless, if you prefer hitch-hiking and have a tent, it is another story and travelling in Paraguay can be very cheap—such options are less feasible in Bolivia or Peru.

Tipping

Service charges are included with the bill, and tipping is uncommon.

Shopping

Paraguay has a very rich and diverse craftmanship, everything from silver filigree (Luque) to cotton fine lace in the form of Ñanduti (Itaugua) is available. Also leather goods with local “repujado” embellishments (Atyra) and ao poi, encaje yu embroidery. Clay ceramic (Ita) and weavery is also very popular, cheap and beautiful. Leather soccer balls are sold and hand made in the town of Quindy.

Bargaining

Bargaining is not generally common or even necessary. For example buying a bus ticket, most will state the same price. When boarding a bus outside of terminals though, e.g. along the highway, you can ask for a lower price. Even though, no one generally does that, they will most likely still take you along for the 10 or 20,000 guaranis less, if you ask. Also, with hostels you might ask for a lower price passing on the breakfast. Often, instead of demanding a lower price, just saying that you only got this or that amount left, does work as well. Or if Chipa is GS.2,000, asking 3 for GS.5,000 will work as well. However, at the market you generally need big amounts to get a discount—no one will bargain because you take 12 eggs.

Eat

Paraguayan food is one of the most diverse in South America. Paraguayans usually enjoy typical food several times a week all year round. You'll find much of the standard South American cuisine here with some Brazilian influence as well. Paraguayan food isn't particularly spicy, so those who can't tolerate spices won't have problems here.

Paraguay has a tradition for beef which is normally good quality and cheap. Grilled meat (asado) is the thing to eat. Pasta is also popular as are the street stalls selling panchos (hot-dogs), hamburgers, empanadas and similar fast-food. Vegetables, salad and other types of meat are not that common but available. In restaurants you normally get manioc as a side dish for free (similar to bread in other countries).

Local specialties

You must try the Paraguayan traditional food, which includes dishes like the following:

  • Chipa-a bread baked in an outdoor oven or "tatacua", usually made out of mandioca (manioc) flour. Mandioca is often substituted for potatoes. Mandioca, or Mandi´o in Guarani is similar to a potato, and is normally eaten boiled but can be fried. It is eaten almost everyday by Paraguayans, and many have it growing on their land.
  • Mbeju is a mandioca starch and Paraguayan cheese based flatbread.
  • Pastel madi'o is a manioc pastry stuffed with "So'o ku'í" or minced meat.
  • Sopa Paraguaya is a form of corn bread are two of the most well known. Sopa means soup, so it is an unusual experience to be actually eating a solid soup, probably the only one in the world.
  • Tortillas in Paraguay are different than in other places in Latin America. It is more like a fried dough (made with Paraguayan cheese).
  • Payagua mascada (Guarani for chewing gum for dogs but has nothing to do with that) is a tortilla also made with manioc and beef (high in proteins and calories).
  • Try Sopa So'o if you get the chance--it is Paraguayan cornbread with bits of pieces of meat often marinated with garlic and lime.
  • Pira caldo is a soup consisting of catfish, tomatoes, fat and spices
  • Asado (BBQ) is great, and prices are quite reasonable - ?20,000 will get you an all-you-can-eat buffet at many nice places. ?5,000 is enough to pay for a hamburger.
  • Also highly popular are empanadas (meat/egg stuffed in a pastry and baked) and milanesa (breaded and fried chicken/beef/fish) - these are considered fast food, and are also found in other countries in the region. If you order a hamburger at a restaurant, expect it to come topped with a fried egg.

Drink

Tap water in Asunción, and possibly Ciudad del Este, is potable. Tap water in the rest of Paraguay should be treated to make it safe for drinking. There have been efforts by PLAN International to bring safe, potable water to communities in rural areas (if there is such water available, it is safe to drink). Ask before drinking water in rural areas however--many Paraguayans will claim their water is safe to drink even if it's not purified.

Mate and Tereré

The most common drink in Paraguay is Mate made of Yerba Mate (Mate herbs) that is similar in style to tea but the preparation is distinct. To add sugar is not common in Paraguay. The infusion is prepared by pouring dry yerba into the cup, then adding water: hot water version is known as mate (preferred in Argentina and Uruguay) while the cold water version is known as tereré and is a local favourite. When it is hot outside, it is more common to drink it as tereré, served in guampas, which can be made out of wood or of hallow bull horns, and is drunk through a metal straw called a bombilla.

Mate is usually enjoyed in the early mornings and late evenings especially during cold days in winter. Terere is enjoyed year-round, though not during lunch time and past sunset, as many recommend. Still, you can see every type of Paraguayan (from construction workers to business executives) carry their tereré set during all times. It is a social activity so the cup is passed around - with in between a refill for each person. If you are offered either you should accept at least one cup. If you can get used to the taste and participate, locals will be appreciative. Often, herbs are added to the tereré water (locally called 'remedios' or 'yuyos', which cure different ailments). For example, adding coconut to one's mate is supposed to help with headaches. The taste is best described as earthy, like a bitter green tea, and it will take getting used to before you can enjoy it.

Drinking mate or tereré is most definitely one of the social customs of Paraguay. Shops will close around noon for a siesta and for a round of mate/tereré with friends.

Another variation of preparation is to boil the yerba on the stove with sugar then strain it before serving it with milk. It tastes a bit like smoked tea. In this form it is called Cocido, which simply means "cooked".

Other non-alcoholic beverages

  • Coffee is mostly of an Italian variety.
  • Gaseosa means fizzy drinks of any description. All the usual brands are available. Try the local Guarana.
  • Pulp is a very popular Paraguayan soft drink. You can buy it a supermarkets or order it in various restaurantes and bars. The original is Pulp Naranja, made with real orange juice.
  • Mosto helado is extracted from the sugar cane and very sweet,sometimes mixed with lime juice to make an 'aloja'. You can find street carts selling mosto near the centro area and in the countryside.
  • In Paraguay, orange juice and other fruit juices, unless squeezed fresh, are almost always reconstituted from dehydrated concentrate. This applies to all unrefrigerated Tetra-Pak juices. The dehydration process destroys vitamin C, and unlike in the West, ascorbic acid may not be added back after reconstitution, thus these fruit juices may not contain any appreciable amount of vitamin C. Either check the packaging, buy fresh juice (freshly squeezed from a street vendor, or Purifru brand in the refrigerator cabinet), or enjoy the wide variety of fresh fruit available on many street corners.

Alcoholic beverages

  • Beer is widely available, as are many liquors. The national beer brand is Pilsen. However, Brazil's Brahma is very popular.
  • Paraguayan hard liquor is similar to rum and is known locally as caña. It is made out of sugar cane.

Sleep

Good accommodation will certainly not be hard to find in major towns, and will seem reasonably cheap if the parameter is the dollar or the euro. Prices for cheap and decent accommodation range from GS.40,000 (in/near Asunción and Conceptión) to GS.60,000 (in Encarnación).

The exception, however, is Ciudad del Este. In Ciuded del Este the cheapest accommodation is near the bus station with doubles for less than €10, in an area that is also pleasant in the evening. Cheaper accommodation is easy to find, but if you're after something of higher quality, then you'll have better chances in Foz do Iguaçu (Brazil), just a short bus ride (R$5.50 or GS.8,000) across the bridge, or in Puerto Iguazu (Argentinia). However, Brazil is easier regarding immigration, not requiring people to have a stamp if just visiting for a day and thus not checking the buses that cross into Brazil or leave it. This option is not available with Argentina, and this crossing is also considerably more time consuming.

Camping in Paraguay is possible and easy, especially in remote regions like the Chaco. Many opportunities exist, just along the highways often you need to search a little more, because the roads are often spotted with poor indigenous population. Camping near the border region with Brazil is probably not recommended. For remote camping sites consult OpenStreetMap, which is also used by this travel guide, and by many mobile Apps like OsmAnd (complex with many add-ons) and MAPS.ME (easy but limited). It is community-based and listed (remote) camping site are often verified by real people.

Learn

Although there are few Spanish language learning schools, there are however quite a few snake skin peeling courses available in most small towns. For a moderate to high price (depending on the expertise), you train with the snake skinners for one day at their personal ranch while learning the ins and outs of the reptiles local to the area. Most are non-venomous just be on the lookout for two headed ones that might get you while you have your hand around another. Most lessons go into the evening where the skinner or hunter will prepare a dinner featuring the snake meat, while preserving the skin of course. Most commonly cooked on the grill, snake is a common delicacy in Paraguay.

As far as languages go, however, another official language of Paraguay is called Guaraní. It is an indigenous language spoken widely outside of Asunción. Most Paraguayans can speak both Spanish and Guaraní. The Guaraní that is spoken is not pure - instead Spanish words are used as well (especially when the word in Guaraní is more complicated than the corresponding Spanish word). Classes to learn Guaraní are unheard of for foreigners (though in the big cities, students who speak Spanish as their first language can opt to learn Guaraní as a second language). There are books available in stores, though the best way to learn would be to speak to the locals.

You can learn local artisanry such as ñanduti embroidery and ao poi at the Instituto Paraguayode Artesanía.

Work

Most people who live in the rural areas of Paraguay are subsistence farmers. Other people who live in urban areas are marketeers. They sell fish, fruit and vegetables, and other products.

Stay safe

There are not many large cities and if you use some common sense and street smarts, you are unlikely to run into any trouble. The police are known to be corrupt, and if you are pulled over for any reason, you will almost certainly be expected to pay a bribe. In Asunción most cops are not corrupt. In the cities crime is common, though not as rampant as in other cities such as Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Buenos Aires.

Ciudad del Este is a hotspot for illicit activities, such as money laundering and counterfeiting, but that should not affect your travels. That said, you will want to keep an eye on your bags and wallet here, as you would do in any other large city. Generally, as long as you aren't involved in drug smuggling (inadvertently or otherwise), and are alert to pickpockets, you should be safe most of the time.

Stay healthy

  • Hospitals in Paraguay range from decent to unsanitary and unequipped. If you get desperately ill, try to get to the best hospital even if it takes a bit longer - you may not find surgical gloves in the worst of them.
  • There are many stray dogs running the streets - avoid them. They usually won't bother you.
  • You may pick up a foot flea known locally as pique (Tunga penetrans), these will usually collect around your toes. They will lay eggs in your feet if not taken care of - the best way to get rid of them is to pierce the site with a stitching needle and pour hydrogen peroxide over the area, then dig the bug out. If you have picked one up, you may notice itching or tenderness in your feet.
  • Paraguay is in the risk zone for the two most common tropical fevers carried by mosquitoes: dengue and yellow fever.

Respect

It is always considered courteous for men to shake hands whenever they meet. Between a man and a woman, or two women, it is common to shake hands and to give a kiss on each cheek. Also when meeting, people will ask not how you are, but if everything is all right, ("¿todo bien?"). The response to this is always, yes everything, and you, ("si estoy bien y vos?") Even if you are having a terrible day, when someone asks such as an acquaintance in the street, one always responds with yes, everything.

Also when given food, you are obligated to both eat it, and to say that it is good (rico in Spanish). To say otherwise with a person you are not acquainted with can be considered forward and rude.

Conversation

In Paraguay, due to the small number of tourists and foreigners, during a first encounter people might make jokes or start making fun of you. This is not meant in an impolite way, it is just the people acknowledging differences between you and them and should not be interpreted offensively. Paraguayans, just like Argentinians, especially in the cities and among the youth, tend to have a very acid sense of humour.

It is very difficult to find people who speak English in most of the country, but if you are very patient and try to communicate in Spanish or with signs, most Paraguayans will try to help you out. Those who can will often single you out and begin a conversation themselves, eager to try out their English. People are very kind and helpful, and they will be glad to meet with a foreigner.

Punctuality and perception of time

Paraguayans have little sense of the value and importance of time. Nothing runs on time, and arriving to a meeting a few minutes late is not uncommon nor considered rude. Flights and buses are almost always expected not to be on schedule.

Connect

By internet

Wi-Fi access is possible at most cafés and restaurants in large cities and touristic towns. Just have a coffee and ask for the password. Public WiFi is also possible in public places like town plazas and shopping malls.

Newspapers

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Paraguay (Other Places Travel Guide)

Romy Natalia Goldberg

This is an invaluable guide to experiencing everything Paraguay has to offer. Filled with cultural insights and first-hand recommendations, Natalia Goldberg has spent the better part of decade compiling this comprehensive travel guide. Included is the only available guide to traveling along the Paraguay River to the Pantanal, a little visited region where remote indigenous communities coexist with endangered wildlife.

No matter your budget or appetite for adventure, this book is a must for discovering the real Paraguay.

-Learn key cultural insights and useful Guaraní phrases that will have you bonding with friendly locals in no time. - Embark upon a riverboat adventure to the Paraguayan Pantanal where jaguars hunt capybaras, jabiru storks soar overhead, and tourists are rare. - Take part in Paraguay’s unique culture by eating local food, drinking tereré, participating in religious festivals, and engaging with artisans. - Navigate the country like a local with detailed maps and comprehensive information on driving, public transportation, and traveling on foot. - Enjoy Asuncion’s active and affordable nightlife or soak up the countryside’s relaxed atmosphere from the comfort of a hammock.

The Paraguay Reader: History, Culture, Politics (The Latin America Readers)

Peter Lambert, Andrew Nickson

Hemmed in by the vast, arid Chaco to the west and, for most of its history, impenetrable jungles to the east, Paraguay has been defined largely by its isolation. Partly as a result, there has been a dearth of serious scholarship or journalism about the country. Going a long way toward redressing this lack of information and analysis, The Paraguay Reader is a lively compilation of testimonies, journalism, scholarship, political tracts, literature, and illustrations, including maps, photographs, paintings, drawings, and advertisements. Taken together, the anthology's many selections convey the country's extraordinarily rich history and cultural heritage, as well as the realities of its struggles against underdevelopment, foreign intervention, poverty, inequality, and authoritarianism.

Most of the Reader is arranged chronologically. Weighted toward the twentieth century and early twenty-first, it nevertheless gives due attention to major events in Paraguay's history, such as the Triple Alliance War (1864–70) and the Chaco War (1932–35). The Reader's final section, focused on national identity and culture, addresses matters including ethnicity, language, and gender. Most of the selections are by Paraguayans, and many of the pieces appear in English for the first time. Helpful introductions by the editors precede each of the book's sections and all of the selected texts.

Paraguay, 2nd (Bradt Travel Guide)

Margaret Hebblethwaite

The new edition of the first and still most comprehensive guidebook to Paraguay in English is engagingly written by a long-term resident. Paraguay is an emerging tourist destination, rapidly improving its facilities but still mercifully free from tourist tat. You can explore savannahs dotted with palm trees, red-earth roads, empty river-beaches, damp Atlantic forests, or the wild Chaco’s ‘green desert’, all without running into another foreigner. You can swing in a hammock chugging slowly upriver, and enjoy some of the best bird-watching in the world. Folk dance, harp playing and handicraft – particularly in sewing – are vibrant, living traditions. This is still a bilingual nation, with Guaraní spoken alongside Spanish – its character shaped by the legendary Jesuit missions with their romantic ruins and fine sculptures of saints, where the indigenous remained protected from European exploitation for a century and a half.

At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig: Travels Through Paraguay

John Gimlette

Haven to Nazis, smugglers’ paradise, home to some of the earth’s oddest wildlife and most baroquely awful dictatorships, Paraguay is a nation waiting for the right chronicler. In John Gimlette, at last it has one. With an adventurer’s sang-froid, a historian’s erudition, and a sense of irony so keen you could cut a finger on it, Gimlette celebrates the beauty, horror and–yes–charm of South America’s obscure and remote “island surrounded by land.”He takes readers from genteel drawing rooms in Asuncion–where ladies still gossip about the nineteenth-century Irish adventuress who became Paraguay’s Empress to the “Green Hell” of the Chaco, a vast, inhospitable tract populated by aging Mennonites and discouraged Indians. Replete with eccentrics and scoundrels, ecologically minded cannibals and utopians from every corner of the earth, At the Tomb of the Inflatable Pig is a madly entertaining book.

1. Paraguay Travel Reference Map 1:800,000 (International Travel Maps) (English and Spanish Edition)

International Travel maps

A road map on both sides of Paraguay. The best way to prepare your trip, to plan your itinerary, and to travel independently. Inset street map of downtown Asunción also included.The legend is in English and in Spanish. Touristic information: airports, points of interest, national parks and nature reserves, hospitals and health clinics, historic or interest sites, auto service centres.

Paraguay (Bradt Travel Guide)

Margaret Hebblethwaite

Paraguay is still largely undiscovered by travelers, but those who make their way here are delighted by the country’s distinctive culture and strong indigenous features. This is the only truly bilingual nation of Latin America, with Guaraní spoken alongside Spanish all over the country. Its folk-dance tradition is hugely popular among young people; its harp playing is legendary; and Paraguayans are proud of their different handicrafts, particularly their sewing. The country is also home to the historic Jesuit missions, or reductions (as depicted in the film The Mission).

Bradt’s Paraguay – the only English-language guidebook to this emerging tourism destination – covers the region with unrivalled detail and knowledge. Written by an author who has lived for the last decade in the Paraguayan countryside, where she has set up an educational charity, it delves deep into a country that has so far eluded the grasp of mass tourism, and where rich indigenous culture and folk traditions still hold strong.

Travel As Transformation: Conquer the Limits of Culture to Discover Your Own Identity

Gregory Diehl

When you travel to a foreign land, do you experience this new place as your old self? Or do you become a new version of you?From living in a van in San Diego to growing chocolate with indigenous tribes in Central America, to teaching in the Middle East and volunteering in Africa, Gregory V. Diehl has spent his entire adult life discovering the world and himself. Leaving his California home shortly after his 18th birthday, he went on to live and work in 45 countries across the globe by age 28.By recounting the existential lessons from his journey, Diehl challenges the reader to question how their identity has been shaped by the culture and lifestyle they know. He argues, compellingly, that travel can transform your perception of yourself along with the world. By losing your comfortable sense of self, you learn to examine your life through the structure of everything it can become.To travel solo with a truly open mind is to forget who you were when you started. It is to be constantly born anew, to discover your strengths and find your path in life. Travel As Transformation will give you the wisdom, the inspiration, and the resources to conquer the limitations placed by your arbitrary past. Whether traveler or non-traveler, its lessons about approaching the uncomfortable and unfamiliar apply to everyone.

Paraguay (Rough Guides Snapshot South America on a Budget)

Rough Guides Snapshot South America on a Budget: Paraguay is the ultimate budget guide to Paraguay. It leads you through the country with reliable information and comprehensive coverage of all the top sights and attractions, from the engineering feat of Itaipú Dam to Asunción's fascinating history and laidback nightlife, alongside cash-saving tips and suggestions for when you feel like treating yourself. Detailed maps and up-to-date listings pinpoint the best cafés, restaurants, hotels, shops, bars and nightlife, ensuring you make the most of your trip, whether passing through, staying for just a few days or visiting for longer. Rough Guides Snapshot South America on a Budget: Paraguay covers the Chaco and its Mennonite colonies, the Ruta Jesuítica, natural wonders like the Laguna Blanca and Pantanal, and major cities such as Asunción, Encarnación, Concepción and Ciudad del Este. Also included is the basics section from The Rough Guide to South America on a Budget, with all the practical information you need for travelling in and around Paraguay, including transport, costs, health, etiquette and personal safety, plus a handy itineraries section.

Also published as part of The Rough Guide to South America on a Budget.

Rough Guides Snapshot South America on a Budget: Paraguay is equivalent to 42 printed pages.

A Dead Bat In Paraguay: One Man's Peculiar Journey Through South America

Roosh Vörek

A Dead Bat In Paraguay is a true adventure story about a 28-year-old man who decided that the best way he could deal with his existential crisis was to sell his possessions, quit his professional career as a scientist, and hop on a one-way flight to Quito, Ecuador in order to visit every country in South America. He sincerely believed the trip would put him on a track towards a more fulfilling life of excitement, intrigue, and exotic women, away from his soulless corporate job in a Washington D.C. suburb. Instead, he humorously falls from one country to the next, striking out repeatedly with the local women, getting robbed, having dreams that became reality, self-diagnosing himself with a host of diseases, and suffering repeated bouts of stomach illness that made marathon bus rides superhuman feats of bodily strength. Along the journey he chronicles the friendships, the women, and the struggles, including one fateful night in Paraguay that he thought would lead to his end. This book is intended for men, and will be almost universally disliked by women because of its sexist themes and occasional toilet humor.

Paraguay (Bradt Travel Guide)

Margaret Hebblethwaite

Bradt's Paraguay was the first stand-alone guide to Paraguay published outside of Paraguay itself and still remains the most comprehensive guide available, covering the whole country from the best-known sights to off-the-beaten track attractions well beyond the tourist trail, plus a cross-border excursion to the Iguazú Falls.This new edition has been thoroughly updated to reflect all the most recent changes, including new themed tourist trails such as the Ruta Jesuítica Multidestino (Jesuit-Guaraní missions) and Ruta de la Caña Paraguaya (Paraguayan rum). Also covered are new luxury hotels for international events, and the increase in number of flights into Asunción. Of particular note is the dramatic increase in 'posadas' around the country: small, reasonably-priced, government-vetted guest houses in private homes, the number of which has increased significantly.Bradt's Paraguay offers all the background information required for a successful trip, from customs and etiquette to curious snippets such as the fact that football is believed to have been invented here in the Jesuit missions in 1793 in a game that corresponds to the game known today. Nature and wildlife are also covered, from the Pantanal in the north to the wetlands of Ñeembucú to the south, and to the Mbaracayu reserve to the east.Immensely detailed, Bradt's Paraguay is written by a well-established journalist who has lived in the country for almost 20 years, who runs an educational charity and who has founded a small hotel which offers tours around Paraguay and is run for the profit of local people. With everything from phone numbers of local keyholders to museums and churches to a map of how to reach remote waterfalls, Bradt's Paraguay is the definitive source for a rewarding trip.

Exercise a high degree of caution

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Demonstrations and civil unrest

Occasional demonstrations, roadblocks, and strikes occur in the capital and on main highways. Local transportation services can be disrupted and violent incidents may occur. Curfews may also be in effect. Avoid large gatherings and demonstrations, and monitor local news reports. Do not attempt to cross roadblocks, even if they appear unattended.

Crime

Crime has increased in recent years, and some incidents involve violence. Armed robbery, car theft, and burglary occur. Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times. Do not show signs of affluence. If attacked, do not resist. Petty crimes such as pickpocketing are prevalent in cities and on public buses. Checked luggage has been pilfered at airports.

In Asunción, be cautious in both unpopulated and overcrowded areas.

Incidents of kidnapping for ransom have been reported. Although foreigners are not specifically targeted, exercise extreme caution at all times, particularly in cities at night.

Never leave food or drinks unattended or in the care of strangers. Be wary of accepting snacks, beverages, gum, or cigarettes from new acquaintances, as they may contain drugs that could put you at risk of assault and robbery.

Road travel

Road accidents are frequent. Traffic laws are frequently ignored and road signs are often lacking. There is no roadside assistance on most highways. Roads in rural areas are generally unpaved and may become impassable during rainy periods. When travelling outside Asunción, avoid night travel, because stray animals and vehicles operating without headlights often pose threats. The number of traffic accidents tends to increase during the holiday season. Be particularly cautious during this period.

Police checkpoints are common, especially at night. Carry identification and vehicle registration at all times. It may be difficult to obtain service in English or French from the local police.

Public transportation

Travellers using public transit sometimes fall victim to theft or other crimes.

Taxis can be hailed on the street or found at ranks. After dark, however, they should be ordered by phone. Very few taxi drivers speak English or French.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

General security information

Tourist facilities are good in the capital but may be limited or unavailable in other areas. Mobile telephone services outside urban areas are sparse and poor. In rural areas of Chaco Paraguayo, there is no cellular phone coverage outside of most Mennonite towns.

You should only undertake visits to the Chaco wilderness with an experienced guide because of the harsh environment and risk of encountering dangerous animals. Staying at an estancia (ranch property) is recommended. Because of heavy rainfall and limited infrastructure, hiking trips to remote areas should be carefully planned. Ensure you have proper equipment and sufficient food and water supplies. A travel itinerary should be left with the hotel or with the Consulate of Canada in Asunción.

Visiting most areas populated by indigenous peoples should present no danger, with the exception of the northern area of the Paraguayan Chaco, close to the Mennonite colonies, where the Ayoreo woodland group lives. Some Ayoreos may perceive outsiders as a threat.

Emergency services

Dial 911 or 441-111 for police.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination may be recommended depending on your itinerary.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in South America, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in South America. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Cholera

There have been cases of cholera reported in this country in the last year. Cholera is a bacterial disease that typically causes diarrhea. In severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.

Most travellers are generally at low risk. Humanitarian workers and those visiting areas with limited access to safe food and water are at higher risk. Practise safe food and water precautions. Travellers at high risk should get vaccinated.

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in South America, certain insects carry and spread diseases like American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease), dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness)West Nile virus and yellow fever.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Dengue fever
  • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.

Malaria

Malaria

  • There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.

Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in South America, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

Medical care is adequate in Asunción but may be limited or unavailable in the countryside. Medical facilities will often expect immediate cash payment for services.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Illegal drugs

Possession, use, or trafficking of illegal drugs may result in jail sentences and heavy fines.

Laws

There are strict regulations against the temporary import or export of items such as firearms, medications, toys resembling weapons or protected species.

It is against the law to hunt animals in or remove certain plant species from nature reserves.

Photographing airports, military establishments, police stations and government buildings is prohibited.

Rental vehicles are available. An International Driving Permit is required.

Money

The currency is the guaraní (PYG). Canadian currency and traveller’s cheques are not widely accepted. U.S. dollars can be exchanged in every exchange agency (casa de cambio) and at most banks. Credit cards are accepted in most hotels, restaurants, and shops.

Climate

The rainy season extends from December to March, and can affect the accessibility or reliability of intercity transit. During the rainy season, the roads in the northern part of the Chaco region are impassable, except for the ones in Mennonite colonies.

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