Asunción: Paraguay's capital city is a thriving river port where quiet parks and wide plazas stand amid historic government buildings, and brand new, ultra-modern skyscrapers.. Here shopping is considered some of South Americas best. Asunción rivals the Far East with a great variety of bargains in electronics, leather and handicrafts. An Asunción city tour will take the visitor to Paraguayan landmarks including the Government Palace, Museum of Natural History, House of Independence, Pantheon of Heros (replica of Les Invalides in Paris), Constitution Square, Municipal Cathedral, Recoleta Church and Cemetery, the commercial Port and Botanical Gardens. Asunción has excellent hotels and restaurants. The city provides easy access to the rest of the country by road, river and air. It is also the port of embarkation for down river trip to Buenos Aires. Day excursions on the Golden Triangle Route are popular and include:
Itaguá: Easily reached by road from Asunción (25 minutes), this small, roadside town is renown for its ñanduti (spider web lace). Visitors will see Guarani women patiently weaving. Here one may select from a wide variety of designs as well as purchase other handicrafts. There is room for bargaining.
Caacupe & San Bernardino: Together with a visit to Itaguá, these two villages make a rewarding full day tour from Asunción. The Holy Virgin of Caacupe is Paraguay's holiest shrine where thousands of faithful pilgrimage every December 8. The town of San Bernardino on Ypacaraí Lake is Asuncion's leading summer resort and provides the perfect setting for a pleasant lunch. Nearby towns of Tobatí (wood carving artisans), Chololo (waterfalls) and Yaguarón (colonial church) are also popular stops.
The Gran Chaco: Paraguay is divided in half by the Paraguay River. To the west and north of the river lies the harsh, rugged plain called the Gran Chaco, which offers limitless possibilities for special interest, adventure and eco-travel.
Filadelfia: Located in the center of the Chaco, Filadelfia serves as the gateway to this often hot, arid and desolate area. It can be reached by air or road (300 mi.) from Asunción. Populated by German speaking Mennonites, who have developed a thriving agricultural economy, the Chaco is still largely unexplored and certainly off-the-beaten path. Two to six day itineraries can be arranged for a variety of special interest programs, including: agriculture, dairy farming, flora and fauna, fishing, trekking and river expeditions.
The Jesuit Mission Trail: In 1606 the first of South America's remarkable Jesuit missions (reductions) were constructed in what is now southern Paraguay. The missions grew and prospered for 180 years, and remain one of the world's most astonishing experiments in colonization.
Encarnación: Paraguays third largest city (250 mi. south of Asunción) is gateway to southern Paraguay and the major Jesuit ruins. Passing through beautiful scenery and small towns, the road from Asunción to Encarnación passes Villa Florida, popular with sport fishermen. From Encarnación one can also reach neighboring Posadas, Argentina via the international bridge. There are good hotels in both cities. Also nearby is Ayolas where fishing camps offer good accommodations for anglers who come to tackle the famed, Golden Dorado. Also nearby is the new Argentine-Paraguayan dam at Yaceretá, which rivals Itaipú in size and capacity.
Trinidad: Six miles from Encarnación lies Trinidad, the largest Jesuit mission in the area, and today the best preserved. Most of Trinidads original walls are still standing, and some statuary has been restored. Completed in 1745, the complex contains many fine examples of flawless stone carvings made by the Guarani Indians who inhabited the mission. Also near Trinidad, the ruins of San Cosmé and San Damian (impressive altar chair, sun dial), and Jesus (Moorish facade) are major attractions. The Jesuit Mission Museum in nearby San Ignacio is also rewarding.
Iguassu Falls & Itaipú Dam: No visit to Paraguay is complete without seeing the world's largest waterfalls and hydroelectric complex:
Iguassu Falls: Although the falls themselves are not located within Paraguay the country is still known as the major gateway to the area. The Friendship Bridge at Ciudad del Este, Paraguay leads directly to the Brazilian side of the falls. The Iguassu River, which flows into the Parana River 12 miles below the falls, forms a lake some two to three miles wide above the falls. Near this point the three countries of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina meet. The falls themselves lie on the border between Argentina and Brazil and form one of the world's great natural wonders. Argentina and Brazil have well-developed natural parks on their respective sides. There are many hotels of all categories and an increasing number of motels on both sides. Reservations are recommended during the summer and on most weekends. The 275 individual falls pour over precipices 200 feet deep, spanning well over a mile. It is like Arizonas Grand Canyon with water pouring over all sides. Iguassus water volume is nine times that of Niagara Falls. The surrounding jungle, now a Brazilian national park, is thick with ferns, palms, bamboo and orchids.
Itaipú Dam: Itaipú is the largest hydroelectric complex in the world and one of the largest public projects in history. The dam is as tall as a 55-story building and stretches over five miles from tip to tip. When finished, the dam will have 18 turbine/generator units that will have an installed generating capacity of 12,600 megawatts. That will make Itaipu almost twice as powerful as the United States' Grand Coulee Dam (currently the world's largest), and six times that of the Aswan Dam in Egypt.