Blaze the trail with Intrepid in Paraguay, one of South America’s most untouched destinations

Join Intrepid on its first foray into the very heart of South America – landlocked and seldom-visited Paraguay. It’s an off-track destination Intrepid has been eyeing for a little while, and this itinerary will not disappoint those in search of something a little left of the big-ticket destinations. After a taste of local food and culture around the capital, Asuncion, delve into a world of charming colonial-era treasures, wetlands brimming with birdlife, remote Atlantic forest, and Jesuit and indigenous Guarani histories rich in myth and magic. Finally, head over to Brazil and Argentina, where mighty Iguazu Falls delivers the spectacular conclusion.


Start
Asuncion, Paraguay
Finish
Foz do Iguazu, Brazil
Country
Paraguay
Style
Original
Theme
Expedition
Code
GGOP
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • Kick off in Asuncion, Paraguay’s understated but loveable capital. A guided tour in and around the city takes in everything from historic mud cottages to Paraguayan embroidery

  • Visit the colonial town of Yaguaron, famous for its ornately painted Franciscan church which was once described as the most beautiful church in the Americas

  • The lush wetlands of Neembucu boast some 279 different bird species, and on two separate drives through the area there’ll be ample opportunity to spot some

  • Discover the intriguing history of Jesuits in Paraguay, with visits to churches, ruins and a historic quarry

  • Spend two days as guests of the Hostettler family in San Rafael National Park, where guided day and night walks can take you into the endangered Atlantic forest

  • Try a variety of South American cuisine, from Paraguayan vori-vori to rich Brazilian barbecue, even yerba mate-flavoured icecream

  • Finish the adventure at mighty Iguazu Falls, taking in its spectacular cascades from both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides

Is this trip right for you?

  • Though Paraguay occupies a relatively small chunk of South America, there’s still quite a bit of ground to cover. Rest assured there will be plenty of interesting stops to break up long drives.

Itinerary

The adventure begins in Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay. There's a welcome meeting and safety briefing to attend at 6 pm. Other than that, you're free to explore as you please. If you arrive early, perhaps check out the Barro or Cabildo museums to soak up some local history, or see what's on at the Juan de Salazar arts and cultural centre.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
If you can't arrange a flight that will have you arrive in time for today's welcome meeting, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please have these on hand.
The quaint city of Asuncion is a great place to get to know on foot. Our walking tour begins with an exploration of the city centre, visiting national monuments such as the Panteon de los Heroes, the Palacio Lopez (which at one stage you could be shot for looking at!), and the Manzana de la Rivera, the collection of little mud cottages where independence was won from Spain without a firearm needing to go off. After a classic Paraguayan lunch of vori-vori at the famous Lido Bar, make the drive out to the Caacupe pilgrimage site to learn about how Paraguayans do penance in their own unique style. Before heading back to the hotel, there's a brief stop at Itaugua to see some of the gorgeous Nanduti (spiderweb lace) being made.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Asuncion - Visit to main points & Caacupé pilgrimage site
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
This afternoon's excursion covers approximately 150 km.
Departing Asuncion, make tracks for Yaguaron. This town is famous for its ornately painted Franciscan church, which could well be the most beautiful church in the Americas. Nearby is the Dr Francia museum, where you can learn stories of the first president and dictator in the house he lived in as a child. Heading south, make a quick stop at San Miguel – famous for its cool hammocks. Continue to the San Ignacio Jesuit museum before a fish lunch at Villa Florida on the Rio Tebicuary. Spend an hour or so in the little known but very beautiful painted chapel at Santa Rosa, then continue to Santa Maria de la Fe to spend the night. Here there's a fantastic Jesuit museum in an original house, and a troupe of howler monkeys lives in the plaza. The Jesuit hotel (our accommodation) supports a local female empowerment project renowned for its felt art, and the following morning we can make a visit there.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Santa Maria de Fe - Visit Yaguaron & San Ignacio Guasú Historic Town's on the Ruta Jesuita
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today's journey covers approximately 200 km, with plenty of stops made along the way.
Drive west to Pilar, heading through the beautiful Neembucu wetlands. We'll break up the journey with some birdwatching and wildlife spotting along the way. As well as its reputation as the 'city of birds', Pilar has many impressive colonial-era sights to see. On a guided walk, check out its attractive church, statues of local wildlife and various historical spots. In Pilar we stay overnight at the Centro IDEAL conservation and education project, and we may even have time to attend some of their environmental education workshops.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Pilar - Journey through the Ñeembucú wetlands with animal sighting stops along the way
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
We travel approximately 250 km in total today.
After the morning city walk in Pilar, head east for a second look at the wetlands, stopping in search of interesting wildlife along the way. The first stop is at the Jesuit site of San Cosme y Damian, the only Jesuit church still used by the local people. Check out its fantastic wooden statues and step into the planetarium for insight into the cosmological beliefs of the indigenous Guarani people. From here, press further east via Coronel Bogado for a pre-lunch chipa (the cheesy national snack) and cocido (smoky sweet yerba mate tea cooked on barbecue coals). We then arrive in the resort town of Encarnacion, where the afternoon is free for relaxing or exploring. Perhaps stroll the promenade or city streets before tucking into your evening meal – a gargantuan Brazilian grill buffet.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Encarnacion - Visit San Cosmé y Damian, Coronel Bogado and Bella Vista & The National Capital of Mate
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
After a good sleep and breakfast, head to the Jesuit ruins of Trinidad and Jesus for a guided tour in the morning. The architect at Trinidad wanted to build the South American equivalent of St Peter's (though of course just a little bit smaller so as not to anger the Pope). The more sedate style of the never-completed Jesus stands in complete contrast. The local don't like to call it a ruin, instead referring to it as Tavarangue – the town that never was. Today you'll also visit to the Ita Cajon Jesuit quarry, with the chance to sample some interesting yerba mate-flavoured ice cream. Enjoy lunch at an excellent buffet restaurant before continuing to Hotel Tirol for the afternoon. This is a majestic monastery-like place set in dense forest, once a favourite of the King of Spain. A guided nature walk through the rainforest is a great (optional) activity this afternoon. Otherwise, relax alongside one of the hotel's four swimming pools!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Encarnacion - Trinidad and Jesus visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Special Information
Today's total distance travelled is approximately 35 km.
As the guests of the Hostettler family and the conservation organisation Pro Cosara, spend two nights in the megadiverse San Rafael National Park. The park comprises some 70,000 hectares of Atlantic Forest, which is one of the five most threatened habitats on earth. Forest walks, including night walks, are available daily, which allow you to see a great spread of the park's wildlife. You can relax in the flowery gardens or on the lake shore if you'd rather take it easy. If the weather suits on the afternoon of day 7, we'll visit the grasslands of Kanguery, aka the 'Mesopotamian Grasslands', which are disappearing due to drainage for the rice industry. This is a place to keep an eye out for the gorgeous Saffron-cowled Blackbird, a species in imminent danger of extinction.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (2 nights)
Included Activities
  • San Rafael National Park - Guided Walks in the National Park
Meals Included
  • Breakfast (2)
  • Lunch (2)
  • Dinner (2)
Special Information
Today we drive approximately 150 km.
Following your transfer to Encarnacion this morning, take a local bus to Ciudad del Este in preparation for our visit to Iguazu. The drive there is lengthy, so sit back and get comfortable. Your reward is of course the one and only Iguazu Falls.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Approximately 350 km is covered on the road today.
Here at Iguazu, you'll visit the mighty waterfalls from both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides. At more than kilometres long, Iguazu Falls are actually a series of cataracts. There are more than 270 falls in total; some reach up to 80 metres in height, and they are wider than Victoria Falls and higher than Niagara. Today you'll enjoy these magnificent panoramas on the Brazilian side of Iguazu Falls. Seeing them from this side has its perks, such as a view of San Martin Island which you don't quite get from the Argentinian side.
Included Activities
  • Iguazu Falls - Entrance and tour of the Brazilian side of the falls
Optional Activities
  • Iguazu Falls - Acquamania Water Park - BRL42
  • Iguazu Falls - Bird Park - BRL85
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
From the Argentinian side of the falls you can follow a series of boardwalks to get up close to the thundering waters – so close you can almost touch them. Later, visit a Guarani community for the rare chance to meet some of the region’s few remaining indigenous people. You might like to take a helicopter ride over the falls while you're here. This optional excursion gives you spectacular views of the falls and the lush green parklands that surround them.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Iguazu Falls - Entrance and tour of the Argentinian side of the falls
Optional Activities
  • Iguazu - Zodiac boat ride - ARS800
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
The adventure comes to an end after breakfast. Note that there are plenty of flights to Rio or Buenos Aires available from either side of the falls.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

11 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners

Transport

Private Vehicle

Accommodation

Hotel (11 nights)

Included activities

  • Asuncion - Visit to main points & Caacupé pilgrimage site
  • Santa Maria de Fe - Visit Yaguaron & San Ignacio Guasú Historic Town's on the Ruta Jesuita
  • Pilar - Journey through the Ñeembucú wetlands with animal sighting stops along the way
  • Encarnacion - Visit San Cosmé y Damian, Coronel Bogado and Bella Vista & The National Capital of Mate
  • Encarnacion - Trinidad and Jesus visit
  • San Rafael National Park - Guided Walks in the National Park
  • Iguazu Falls - Entrance and tour of the Brazilian side of the falls
  • Iguazu Falls - Entrance and tour of the Argentinian side of the falls

Dates & availability

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Important notes

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT
Single supplements are not available on this trip. Single rooms will possibly be available in some locations, however this can not be arranged in advance and payment should be made directly to the hotel.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.