Paraguay - The Lost Heart of Latin America

A surprising insight into South America’s hidden jewel, Paraguay. This often-overlooked, but warm and unique country boasts a fascinating, turbulent history, a diverse range of cultures and extreme landscapes.

Visit the crumbling city of Asuncion, now experiencing a slow, but glorious transformation – a mixture of Spanish colonial architecture and a new, evolving creative scene. After exploring the capital we follow the ‘circuito de oro’ through local traditional towns, home to local artisans and gold and silversmiths before seeing the impressive Franciscan church at Capiata and Sapucai’s railway workshop.

Our next destination is the remote region of the Chaco, where we will stay for two nights at a Paraguayan ‘estancia’ – a typical ranch. The welcome is warm and the sights within the vast area are many – we will visit Mennonite communities, learn about the unique history of the region and search for wildlife including tapir, armadillo and more.

After a brief return to Asuncion, we drive south to explore the Jesuit Missions, an important aspect of Paraguayan history and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The dilapidated but intriguing ruins are lesser-known and often relatively unexplored, so expect unspoilt photo opportunities.

We then continue to the mesmerising Iguazu Falls, experiencing both the Argentinian and Brazilian sides. Spend two days exploring the falls to the maximum. It’s incredible to think that this rich, forested area is home to 275 separate waterfalls that make up the UNESCO site of Iguazu. You will have the opportunity to trek along scenic walking trails on both borders, including viewing the 3km-wide cascade from an incredible frontal position, standing on the Brazilian side. The falls are a stunning highlight to end your journey.

From vast salt-flats and swamplands to lush, tropical forests and enchanting waterfalls, from traditional villages to crumbling Jesuit ruins, this trip to Paraguay truly is a journey into the unknown.


  • Explore the remote Chaco region in search of wildlife
  • Discover the historic Jesuit Missions
  • Head across the border to see Iguazu Falls
  • The traditional towns of the ‘circuito de oro’

Day 1 - Asuncion

Arrive in Asuncion and transfer to your hotel. The rest of the day is free. Overnight Dazzler Hotel or similar.

Asuncion was once one of Latin America’s more run down cities, although still with much of cultural and artistic interest, and an intriguing history dating back to 1537. Although some parts of the city are still a little rough around the edges, with grinding poverty and a lack of public services, the once dilapidated centre has undergone a real transformation and is now an area of parks, pergolas and a lovely riverside walk, not to mention the many graceful, Spanish colonial buildings to admire which were once crumbling and have now been lovingly restored. A new creative scene has also emerged among the young population, in response to political turbulence, and you’ll find parts of the city decorated with colourful murals and dotted with art exhibitions. New hotels, bars and restaurants have given the city a real lift and this is reflected in a lift of spirits among the local people, who are also proud of their city’s long history.

Day 2 - Asuncion

Spend the morning exploring Paraguay’s capital. You will explore its key sites including the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Panteon, where Paraguay’s national heroes are buried, the old train station, port and others. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight Dazzler Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 3 - Circuito de Oro

An excursion out of Asuncion along the ‘circuito de oro’, a collection of traditional towns that are known for their production of Paraguayan crafts. You will visit Itauga with its colonial buildings, Luque, renowned for its gold and silver craftsmanship, and Capiata with its impressive Franciscan church. We also visit the railway workshop at Sapucai, built by British engineers in the late 19th century; the surrounding town is home to many of their original houses. Return to Ascension for the night. Overnight Dazzler Hotel or similar. (BL

Day 4 - The Chaco

An early start to depart to Paraguay’s remote Chaco region. En route visit the Command Centre of the Chaco War to learn about the region’s recent history. We continue to the Mennonite community of Loma Plata and then move on to Filadelfia, with its excellent museum detailing the history of the Chaco. End the day at a typical Paraguayan estancia (ranch) where you will be served a traditional dinner, and stay tonight. (BD)

The Chaco region
The Gran Chaco, most of which is shared between Argentina, Paraguay and Bolivia, is more than twice the size of California and contains South America’s second-largest forest, second only to the Amazon rainforest.

A dream for birders, the Paraguayan Chaco is home to many species including eagles, rheas, woodcreepers and black-bodied woodpeckers, plus a large number of waterfowl that are attracted to the saltpans and swamps here. This area is rich in many other types of wildlife too and is likened to the Brazilian Pantanal which shares many of the same species. Other species you can find here include the lowland tapir, Chacoan peccary and armadillo. With sweltering temperatures, much of the Paraguayan Chaco is semi-arid and is home to giant cacti and thorn forests. For hundreds of years the only people that lived here were a few indigenous tribes and the territory was undisputed – neither Paraguay nor its neighbour Bolivia cared about who the land belonged to. This all changed when a three year war took place, starting in 1932, when it was realised that oil could be mined in the area, although thankfully this is yet to be seen.

The Gran Chaco also has extensive grasslands suitable for raising cattle, which is evident in the southern Chaco where overgrazing, agricultural development and human population growth is becoming a problem for the nature of the region. However, the Paraguayan region still has a relatively small population, with only a few Mennonite colonies living here. The land of Gran Chaco is currently shared between Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil, with over 62% belonging to Argentina and around 25% belonging to Paraguay.

Day 5 - The Chaco

Today is spent exploring the natural wealth of the region, visiting the Chaco Private Reserve and the Laguna de Campo Leon and Laguna Flamenco, with their prolific birdlife. In the afternoon we move to Laguna Capitan and take an afternoon / early evening excursion to look for wildlife including foxes, peccaries, tapirs and armadillos, among others. Overnight Posada Camestre or similar. (BLD)

Day 6 - The Chaco - Asuncion

Morning exploration of the reserve, then depart to Fortin Boqueron, the site of the first battle of the Chaco War. Explore the fort and museum then start to return to Asuncion. On the way we stop at a small community of the indigenous Enxet people to learn about their traditions. Overnight Dazzler Hotel or similar. (B)

Days 7-8 - Encarnacion

Drive south east to Encarnacion and spend two days exploring the historic Jesuit Missions. On Day 7 we visit San Ignacio Guasu and Santa Maria de Fe, and then on Day 8, Jesus and Trinidad. The Jesuit Missions are an integral part of Paraguayan history, where Jesuit priests and local Guarani people formed strong societies, that were eventually seen as a threat to the power of the Catholic church, and the ruins that remain are an atmospheric link with Paraguay’s fascinating past. Overnight Hotel Savoy or similar. (B)

Trinidad and the Jesuit Missions
Southern Paraguay is home to the ruined Jesuit Missions of Trinidad, listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The ruins are nestled among palm-studded countryside and the screeches of parakeets can be heard all around. The Jesuits established these missions in the 17th century with the aim of Christianising the local indigenous population, the Guarani, as well as protecting them from the colonial labour system. Unlike some other missions, the Guarani were not forced to Europeanise and were able to retain many indigenous traditions, including the cultivation of yerba mate, made into Paraguay’s ubiquitous national drink. The missions here were attached to reductions, or settlements, all combining indigenous elements with Christian attributes. The missions of Argentina and Brazil are more well-known and receive more visitors, but the intricately carved ruins of the old churches and communities in this region of Paraguay are equally impressive and if you’re lucky you may even find you have the ruins to yourself.

Day 9 - San Ignacio - Puerto Iguazu

Cross into Argentina and visit the San Ignacio mission, founded in 1610. From here we drive to Puerto Iguazu. Overnight Hotel O2 or similar. (B)

Days 10-11 - Iguazu Falls

We spend two days visiting the falls, with a full day visit to the Argentinian side, and a half day visit to the Brazilian side. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Iguazu Falls are undoubtedly one of Latin America’s natural wonders, made up of over 250 different waterfalls which cascade into gorges below, surrounded by wildlife-rich forests. Overnight Hotel O2 or similar. (B)

Iguazu Falls
Any trip to Paraguay wouldn’t be complete without a trip across the border to Argentina, to see the overwhelming beauty of Iguazu Falls, the sheer power and size of which can’t fail to impress. The falls are comprised of 275 cascades forming a vast water curtain which crashes down over granite rocks surrounded by tropical jungle. You may even see flocks of swifts who, surprisingly, build their nests behind these thundering falls. Both the Argentinian and Brazilian side of the falls offer scenic walkways and the chance to spot wildlife but the Brazilian side boasts a panoramic view of the 3km cliff edge, where you can appreciate frontal views of the falls, whereas on the Argentinian side, the walking trails are located above, below and behind the water. In the past there were disputes between Paraguay and Argentina over Misiones Argentina – the area which is home to the Argentinian side of the falls – but the Paraguayan claims were ended by the Triple Alliance War. The Paraguayans still feel an affinity with this area however, as the falls have a Guarani name – a language which is the mother tongue in Paraguay but has been lost in Brazil and Argentina.

Day 12 - Puerto Iguazu

Transfer to the airport for departure. (B)

What's included?

  • Airport transfers

    We include arrival and departure transfers regardless of whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you. If you’re booking them yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers. Please note though that if you arrive earlier than Day 1 of the tour, and leave after the final day, we may need to make an additional charge for an airport transfer.

  • Accommodation

    Accommodation as listed in the dossier. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavour to keep the same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere

    While we prefer to use centrally located hotels where possible, this is not always practical and in some locations they may not be the best option in terms of standards or reliability.

  • Guides

    You will be accompanied by an English speaking guide.

  • Meals

    As listed within the itinerary / dossier (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner). These will vary from trip to trip – in some areas it makes sense to include all meals while in others there is a good choice of restaurants and we feel people might like to ‘do their own thing’ now and again.

    Please note that when meals are included, sometimes these will be in hotels, as often these are the most appropriate option, and will sometimes be set menus. Local restaurants are often lacking in variety

  • Entrance fees

    Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense.

What's not included?

  • Visas

    We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then we will arrange this for you. If you need any advice with visas then just give us a call, or alternatively a visa agency such as Travcour ( can assist.

  • International flights

    Many of our travellers arrive from different destinations and so we don’t include international flights in the cost of our tours. If however you would like us to book flights for you, then just give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.

  • Travel insurance

    If you need any assistance with this, then let us know – although we can’t arrange it ourselves we can point you in the direction of a reputable provider that can assist.


British passport holders don’t need a visa to enter Paraguay. You will be granted a 90-day stay in the country without a visa and your passport should be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. You may also need to provide proof of onward or return travel.

Citizens from most EU countries don’t require a visa either, nor do travelers of Central and South American nationalities. Other nationalities should contact their nearest embassy to check visa requirements.

Health and vaccinations

We are not medically qualified and so we recommend that you speak to your doctor or nearest health professional for advice concerning recommended vaccinations. For more advice on vaccinations you can also visit 


It is a condition of joining our tours that you have suitable travel insurance in place, and we cannot accept travellers without insurance. All policies differ in terms of what they will cover, but as a minimum you need medical and health cover which will cover you for the whole time that you are away. Most policies will also include cancellation cover, which will cover you if an unforeseen circumstance obliges you to cancel your trip. We recommend that you obtain your insurance as soon as you book your trip.

Please note that government travel warnings often affect the validity of your travel insurance, and you should check this with your insurance company


The currency in Paraguay is the Paraguayan guaraní. ATMS are widely available but limits on withdrawal can be low whilst withdrawal charges are high. Outside of the Mennonite colonies there are no ATMs in the Chaco. The most widely accepted credit cards are Visa and Mastercard but cards are rarely accepted outside of major cities and sometimes come with a surcharge. It is best to bring US dollars for exchange purposes and you may need your passport to exchange money.    

Local conditions

When travelling to some of the destinations we offer you need to bear in mind that things won’t always work here as we’re used to them working at home. Travelling in underdeveloped and untouristed destinations requires both patience and a sense of humour. There may be problems with infrastructure, attitudes may be different, and maintenance may not be as high a standard as we would always like, but this is very much part and parcel of travelling in such a place. We aim to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, and thank you for your patience.

Travel advice

We keep a very close eye on the travel advice issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office so that we can keep you up to date with any warnings. At the time of writing the FCO do not advise against travel to any of the areas we visit on this trip.

We work very closely with our local team and are fully confident that we can operate tours safely in Paraguay. Should you have any concerns over safety please do not hesitate to contact us and we can address your concerns.

This relates to advice from the British government – other nationalities need to check the stance of their own governments.

Updated July 2023

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04 May 2024
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25 August 2024
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