Sandra Scott Travels: Paraguay, A Perfect Place to Visit

Asuncion - Museo del Cabildo
Asuncion – Museo del Cabildo

Last week I asked: What South American country is landlocked?

Paraguay.

Asuncion- National Capitol

Paraguay is a landlocked country between Argentina, Brazil, and Bolivia in the heart of the South American continent.

The little-visited, little-known country is 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.

John and I spent several interesting days there a couple years ago.

The only other landlocked South American country is Bolivia but I read recently that an international company that has a mining business in Bolivia has built a road to the Pacific Coast.

San Bernardino – Mirador

But, I don’t know how accessible it is.

We were lucky because one day the weather was mild – it can be very hot in Asuncion – so we did a walking tour of the capital.

The capital on the banks of the Paraguay River is home to the Government Palace and several museums.

The city has more trees and parks than most of the South American capitals.

We went to the Museum of Independence and wandered down to the Paraguay River to see the cruise boat.

It was elegant with all wood interior and even a swimming pool.

Aboard Asuncion – Cruise ship

Wish I had known about it sooner because I would have worked it into our tour itinerary.

We stopped at the tourist office and booked a half-day tour to San Bernardino.

San Bernardino is considered the elite escape for the privileged of Asunción, Tranquil ‘San Ber’ is a trendy place with pubs, discos, upmarket hotels and restaurants that line the shady cobbled streets of Lago Ypacaraí’s eastern shore. We looked at the Hotel del Lago, just in case.

Very quaint; liked it.

Before we left we drove up to the Mirador for a look at the lake.

All very scenic.

Actors on Paraguay Train

Luckily we were told about a steam-driven tourist train that only runs on Sunday.

The cab took us to the wrong station – the central station, but we were able to catch a cab to the station in the Botanical Garden.

Luckily we were just in time as the train was wonderful…very interactive and unique.

Pickpockets, too

I forgot the steam engines using wood means ashes flying around every once in a while.

The actors on the train were so active and incredible with people crawling in the train windows for free ride and policemen to apprehend them along with a begging urchin and his pickpocketing mom.

When we got to Aregua we wondered what to do for a couple hours while the train turned around.

Not to worry, they had a tour of the city of Aregua for one dollar.

We went to a church, watched a man make pottery, and got back in time for a dance performance by the Guarani dancers.

The Guaraní live mainly in Paraguay and more Paraguayans speak and understand Guaraní than Spanish.

Potter at work

Making a short trip to Paraguay is a great option for people traveling in South America.

It is now possible to get a VOA, visa on arrival, at the airport in Asuncion but it is pricey – $160 for a multiple entry visa good for 10 years.

They don’t take credit cards and the bills must be pristine and CB and D series are not accepted.

I don’t think countries understand the ramifications of charging so much for entry or exit fees but, we Americans, also charge a lot for a visa and many of the countries consider their fees similar to what the USA charges for their nationals to visit our country.

Travel Trivia Tease™: Are there castles along the Rhine River?

Look for the answer next week.

Sandra and her husband, John, have been exploring the world for decades, always on the lookout for something new and unique to experience. We have sailed down the Nile for a week on a felucca, stayed with the Pesch Indians in La Mosquitia, visited schools in a variety of countries, and — to add balance to our life — stayed at some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Let the fun continue!