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Although not one of South America’s most visited destinations, Paraguay has a wealth of things to offer visitors, including historic city centres, lush forests, colonial architecture and the Rio Paraguay, South America’s second longest river. By car, it is possible to drive to the northern national parks to spot wildlife, visit riverside beaches near the Brazilian border, discover the Amambay Cordillera or see the Jesuit ruins near Humaitá.
Main intercity highways and toll routes are paved and offer travellers a scenic way to reach most cities. Small roads are unpaved, while city streets are predominately cobblestone outside of the capital city. Road signs are absent on most stretches so extreme caution should be taken and driving at night should be avoided.
Driving licences: UK drivers must have an International Driving Licence to be able to drive here.
Which side does Paraguay drive on: the right.
Motorways: 49mph (80kph) if posted, up to 68mph (110kph) if not posted
Rural areas: 49mph (80kph)
Built-up areas: 24-31mph (40-50kph)
Alcohol limits: 0.08 per cent, as in the UK; if a driver is found to be above this limit, there can be harsh penalties.
Driving age: 18 years.
Seatbelts: all occupants of the vehicle are required to wear a seatbelt at all times.
Mobile phones and GPS: a mobile phone can only be used while driving with a hands-free kit. Using GPS is allowed but most drivers find it is not helpful due to the lack of signage on the roads.
Cost of fuel in Paraguay: cheap compared to in the UK.
Car hire and fuel payment: most filling stations do not accept credit cards as payment so it is best to carry cash. Car hire companies accept credit cards, but be sure to inform your card supplier that the card will be used outside of the UK before you leave home.
Insurance: most drivers do not have insurance so make sure third-party insurance is included with car hire. Excess insurance is also highly recommended.
Traffic and parking: Most cities have safe car parks where visitors can leave their vehicles while exploring the city. Expect traffic in Asunción, the capital city.
The only train now operating is a tourist steam train that connects Asunción to Luque and Areguá.
There is no shortage of taxis in Paraguay, but many do not have insurance so travelling by taxi can be a risky way to get around. Still, they are a reliable and comfortable way to travel, and are affordable. Taxis within Asunción run on a meter system, while those elsewhere do not. The start fare in the capital is around £1.20, increasing by £0.80 per kilometre travelled. Fares are cheaper in other cities, such as Ciudad del Este.
Buses arriving in Paraguay from neighbouring countries mostly terminate in Asunción, Ciudad del Este or Encarnación. A reputable company that makes these trips is Nuestra Señora de la Asunción. Fares from Santa Cruz and Buenos Aires to Asuncion are around £28. Within the country, buses travel to pretty much every destination. Común are cheap but slower than the direct rápido buses, which run less frequently. Large cities operate inner-city buses, which are a cheap and fun way to get around, with fares of around £0.30.
Ferries run across the Río Paraguay, Río Pilcomayo and Río Paraná from Argentina into Paraguay. There is a ferry service that leaves Asunción every Sunday and travels north along the Río Paraguay to Brazil, stopping at many ports along the way. For information or to make a reservation, visit Crucero Paraguay. Domestic ferries run between Concepcion and Asunción, with single fares of around £8.
Asuncion’s Silvio Pettirossi International Airport is the main entry point, with Ciudad del Este’s Guarani International Airport (for Iguazu Falls) has domestic connections with Asuncion as well as international links with Sao Paulo, Brazil. Neither airport receives flights from the UK, with UK travellers usually transferring in a US city like Miami or a major regional city like Buenos Aires. Taxi fares from Asuncion’s airport to the city are around £15 or passengers can take the city bus for £0.15.
Most visitors coming to Paraguay to start their adventure in Asunción, the capital city and part of the most populated southern Paraneña region. Here, many famous landmarks can be seen, including the Panteón Nacional de los Héroes (National Pantheon of the Heroes), the Palacio de López (Palace of the Lopez) and the Casa de la Independencia Museum (Independence House Museum).
To the east is Ciudad del Este, the country’s second largest city and the gateway to the magnificent Iguazu Falls. Some visitors start their exploration here.
Encarnación, at the southeast corner of the country and bordering with Argentina, is the carnival capital of the nation and home to a lovely artificial riverside beach. From here, many travellers take a daytrip to Santísima Trinidad de Paraná to see the Jesuit ruins, which are the most impressive ruins in the country.
The less visited Mennonite colony of Filadelfia is quite different to the rest of the country and should not be passed up. It is a small but extremely interesting town and the only part of the country where German can be heard.
In northern Paraneña is San Pedro, famed for its ecotourism, hot springs and white sand riverside beaches. Here, visitors can go fishing, canoeing and swimming in the transparent water of the stunning Laguna Blanca. There is also superb bird watching in the surrounding area.
Paraneña, or the eastern half of Paraguay, has a subtropical temperature with two seasons, wet and dry (winter and summer). October to March is the dry summer season, which is quite humid, with temperatures averaging around 27°C, although it can get as hot as 38°C. The western Chaco region has a tropical climate, with seasons similar to those in the west. Here, the wet season can get extremely wet and floods are common, although the temperature is higher than in Paraneña, sometimes rising to a scorching 44°C.