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Paraguay may seem to be South America's "Empty Quarter," but open-minded travelers will find plenty to see and do, but normally on short side trips from Argentina or Brazil. While parts of it are ramshackle, the capital city of Asunción has handsome 19th-century architecture and a vibrant modern art scene. To the east, the town of Caacupé is the country's major devotional center, its sprawling cobblestone plaza filled by up to 300,000 pilgrims on December 8. Despite a dense rural population that lives from shifting agriculture, the country has managed to preserve representative samples of subtropical rainforest in units such as ...

Paraguay may seem to be South America's "Empty Quarter," but open-minded travelers will find plenty to see and do, but normally on short side trips from Argentina or Brazil. While parts of it are ramshackle, the capital city of Asunción has handsome 19th-century architecture and a vibrant modern art scene. To the east, the town of Caacupé is the country's major devotional center, its sprawling cobblestone plaza filled by up to 300,000 pilgrims on December 8. Despite a dense rural population that lives from shifting agriculture, the country has managed to preserve representative samples of subtropical rainforest in units such as Parque Nacional Ybicuí, the most accessible of several national parks. In the expansive Gran Chaco to the west, a paved highway passes through bird-rich palm savannas to German Mennonite agricultural colonies. To the south, along the Argentine border, the Jesuit ruins of Jesús and Trinidad are at least the equal of the landmark Argentine site at San Ignacio Miní, in an area whose history was made famous in the award-winning 1986 film The Mission. Both the Paraguay and Paraná rivers are home to dorado and other challenging game fish.

Wayne Bernhardson
About the Expert

Wayne Bernhardson is the author of Moon Handbooks to Argentina, Buenos Aires (including coastal Uruguay), Chile (including Easter Island), and Patagonia (including the Falkland Islands).

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Wayne Bernhardson for Triporati

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