Little-visited, little-known Paraguay is a country much misunderstood. Despite its location at the heart of the continent, it is all too often passed over by travelers who wrongly assume that a lack of mega-attractions means there’s nothing to see. However, it’s ideal for those keen to get off the gringo trail for a truly authentic South American experience.
Saltos del Monday
On the outskirts of Ciudad del Este lies one of Paraguay’s most spectacular natural wonders: Saltos del Monday. This thunderous series of waterfalls is an astonishing 45 metres tall and 120 metres wide. Adventurers can climb and abseil down the rocky walls, while observers keen to stay on dry land can watch the falls tumble into the depths below from wooden walkways snaking across the river.
Ciudad del Este
Thousands of Brazilian citizens cross the border daily into Paraguay to buy goods that are heavily taxed in Brazil. Here’s why Ciudad del Este is also known as the Supermarket of South America. Street bazaars and shopping malls sell electronics, clothing, toys, and every conceivable thing you might want. Besides bargain hunting, visitors can admire the Itaipu Dam, a huge hydroelectric power plant built jointly by Brazil and Paraguay. Ciudad del Este is also the gateway to the Iguazu Falls.
Areguá is a slice of Spain on the outskirts of Asunción’s suburbs. In this charming colonial town on the edge of Lago Ypacaraí, cobbled alleyways give way to leafy plazas, lined with quaint cafés and boutiques. Watersports are the main draw on the lake, while sunseekers can catch some rays on its sandy shores. Head just outside the town to see the geometric sandstone formations of the Kôi and Chororî hills.
The so-called ‘Pearl of the South’ reclines carefree on the banks of the Parana River, drawing crowds of Asuncenos during the summer with the promise of pristine riparian beaches and the country’s most up-and-coming boardwalk boulevard.The best sands are found at the end of Curupayty, groomed and managed and dotted with bikini-clad fashionistas and sunbathers alike. Water sports are popular too, with jet skis buzzing around the meanders of Parana, below the shimmering high-rises of the city’s all-new residential neighbourhoods across the bay.
The national dish of Paraguay is Sopa Paraguaya. It is a cornbread made from cornmeal, eggs, pig fat (or butter), fresh cheese, and sometimes onions. It is most often made for special occasions because it can be expensive for people in poor rural areas.