Charming old cities with carefully preserved architecture, unique religious shrines, and broad prospects for active recreation – modern Paraguay can offer a range of unique opportunities for tourists. The country has large territories with untouched nature, as well as beautiful cities with authentic and traditional lifestyle. For many, Paraguay is an ideal destination for various sports such as rafting, equestrianism, alpinism, hiking, fishing, and zipline.
The oldest data on record states that Guarani tribes inhabited the territory of modern Paraguay until the 16th century. Agriculture was their main occupation. Smaller territories belonged to other tribes, namely, Mokovi, Toba, and Matako that were mostly involved in hunting and fishing. First European colonizers stepped onto the territory of modern Paraguay in 1525. Spanish colonizers founded the first settlement in this region in 1537. They called this town Asuncion. Colonizers also brought Christian culture and religion to the continent.
The beginning of the 17th century marked the start of a new page in the history of the country. Jesuits appeared in the region and became rulers of the country already in 1617. This started the period of riots in Paraguay that lasted until 1768 when Spanish authorities helped to expel Jesuits from the country. In 1776, Paraguay became a part of the kingdom of Rio de la Plata, and it became independent from Spain in 1811. The war with Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, which took place in the second half of the 19th century, became a true disaster for Paraguay. In a series of battles, the country lost almost half of its territory. The start of the 20th century also marked a series of military conflicts. The political and social stability returned to Paraguay only at the end of the century.
The city of Asuncion is the main tourist center and the capital of Paraguay. For tourists, this is, first of all, an interesting destination full of historic landmarks. Spanish colonizers founded this city in 1537, so tourists can still see beautiful churches of the colonial period, two old universities, and other unique architectural landmarks. The Paraguay River is situated not far from the capital. Fans of recreational activities in the open air enjoy strolling along the river’s bank.
The Cerro Corá National Park is the main natural landmark of the region. It was founded in 1976. The national park occupies an area of 5,500 hectares. This was one of the major battlefields during the Paraguay war. Nowadays, this is a peaceful place famous not only for its natural landmarks but also for historic attractions. In recent years, scientists discovered caves with ancient rock drawings, the age of which is more than 3,000 years.
If you like ruins and old constructions, don’t forget to visit Trinidad. During a walk along old streets of the town, tourists can see many interesting stone buildings, the age of which is more than several centuries. Experienced tourists recommend not hurrying and taking a stroll in Trinidad after sunset –the town looks particularly impressive at this time. The territory of Trinidad became a UNESCO World Heritage Site years ago.
Maka tribes are indigenous people of the region, so it is always very interesting to learn more about them and their lifestyle. There are large reservations that are open to tourists. Some of them are old and have survived colonization and disastrous wars. Villages of Maka people still have the same traditional lifestyle that they had centuries ago. People grow crops, fish, and make interesting items. For tourists, this is a fantastic opportunity to purchase authentic souvenirs and look at unusual national costumes of indigenous people that local artisans make from feathers.
Ypacarai Lake is a beautiful body of water in the south-east of Paraguay. The size of this lake is roughly 60 square meters. The lake is quite shallow – its maximal depth is only 3 meters. Local water is considered to have healing properties due to high mineral content, and this is the reason why not only tourists but also locals enjoy visiting it.
The largest international airport in Paraguay is situated not far from the capital. It regularly accommodates flights from Chile, Brazil, and Argentina. It may be problematic to find a direct flight from Europe to Paraguay. It is possible to reach the country by making a transit flight to the United States – there are regular flights to Paraguay from Miami and Dallas.
Read further: Cities and sights of Paraguay