Category Archives: Paraguay

Final Map

Here ends our story. After traveling for almost eight months in South America, (yes, it has taken us a long time to write the last few blog posts!) we headed back home to make arrangements for new adventures.

We covered a lot of ground and while we could have moved faster and seen more countries, we didn’t want to just tick the boxes but actually to experience the places we visited. It truly has been the trip of a lifetime. We experienced so many wonderful places, met so many people – both travelers and locals, and loved every minute. If you have ever wanted to go to South America, you should definitely do it! It certainly won’t let you down!

Adios amigos,

Mark and Saskia.

 


¡Six Months!

 


¿Donde en el Mundo es Carmen Sandiego?

G'day from Trinidad, Bolivia. We recently celebrated our fifth month on the road in South America and we thought it was time for an update. We've been in Bolivia since the 28th of June and have had a great time. Currently exploring Bolivia's share of the Amazon Basin, which is a welcome change from the altitude and cold of the altiplano.

So where have we been? Well, the map below tracks our travels to date. Basically we have covered the southern half of the continent and we are now making our way north. The plan is to spend August in Peru before travelling through Ecuador and Colombia. Our goal is to get to Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast, the most northern point of interest on the mainland. We will be pretty stoked if we achieve it.

We are well behind on our posts but keep touching base for more stories – there's a ton of content coming your way!

Thanks for reading,

Mark and Saskia

 


The journey so far…

As we sit here in San Rafael's autumnal sun, sipping on local wine, we started going over our travels to date. We pulled out our map to look at where we have been over the last three and a half months.

 

The journey so far has basically been four different chapters:

  1. Patagonia, including the Navimag trip, Torres del Paine, El Calafate, Perito Moreno Glacier, Mount Fitz Roy and Ushuaia.
  2. The cities of Buenos Aires, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, including a visit to the Tigre River near BA and a few days in Botucatu and Paraty, Brazil.
  3. The tropical paradise that was the journey from the Pantanal to Iguazu Falls, via Paraguay.
  4. North and western Argentina, including Córdoba, San Rafael, and Mendoza (as well as Bariloche and Salta which are next on the list).

As you can see in the picture above, we are now in Argentina's wine region and quite close to where we started in Chile.

It has been one amazing adventure after another! To paraphrase a friend, all the bus trips and shitty hostels are worth it when we find ourselves drinking cocktails in Rio or staring at the Devil's Throat in Iguazu Falls.

We have now 'dropped anchor' in San Rafael, where we have been working with an organic farm collective for a few weeks. It has been so nice to get some rest and have time to hone our español before we start off on the journey north (which we are still working out!).

We would like to say thanks for stopping by to read our stories. This blog has been good fun, we hope it is entertaining our friends and family back home. Cheers also to the other bloggers on WordPress that have visited and left a comment or liked a post. Always nice to have a bit of validation!

Dos Condors.

 


Paraguay

In order to get from Brazil to Argentina, we decided to go the slightly more adventurous way, through Paraguay. We caught a bus from Bonito to Ponta Pora, where we stayed overnight in a dingy hostel near the bus station. The next morning, we tackled the bureaucracy, getting exit stamps on our passports from the Brazilian Police and entrance stamps from Paraguayan Immigration. We thought we needed a visa, so we checked with the Paraguayan Consulate who assured us that we didn't, and said that we could easily cross the border with just a stamp from Immigration.

We then caught a taxi to the Paraguayan bus terminal in Juan Pedro Caballero, the same town as Ponta Pora, but just across the border. Within an hour we were on a bus headed for Concepción! The whole process was far easier than we expected. Perhaps a little too easy…

Beautiful countryside in Paraguay

After spending around 6 hours on a bus, we arrived in Concepción slightly tired and hungry. We were greeted at the bus terminal by an excited man with a horse whip, who wanted to give us a lift to our hostel on his horse and cart. It was cheaper than a taxi, and far more fun! The look on the driver's face was priceless as he carried two gringos on his cart through town, waving to everyone he knew!

Horse and cart is a standard form of transport in Paraguay

The whole place is very relaxed. We only stayed for a couple of days, but were able to have a good look around town, which is quite run down, but there are some lovely buildings from the early 20th Century.

The statue of Mary is an icon of Concepción

We found the local market and bought some much needed fruit. The food here has been pretty ordinary…its all just carbs and protein! One of the worst meals to date was our first night in Concepción when Mark ordered a 'Milanesa Cubano', which consisted of steak crumbed and deep fried; a slab of cheese crumbed and deep fried; a slab of ham crumbed and deep fried; chips deep fried; mashed potato; bread; and for that Cuban effect, a banana – crumbed and deep fried. South American food is all about quantity, not quality!

Market, Concepción

If we had more time I would have liked to go exploring more and find the Australian Colony. “New Australia” was established in 1893 by 220 Australian immigrants with the aim of creating a socialist utopian commune. It failed miserably, but apparently descendents of some of those immigrants still live there. I heard about this last year for the first time on the news, and thought that was such a random part of Australian history that we should have been taught about it at school!

Bus in Concepción, Paraguay

We had planned to catch a bus to Ciudad del Este, cross the border to see Iguazu Falls, then cross back in to Paraguay and make our way to Encarnación down south, which is supposed to be a lovely city. The bus trip to Ciudad del Este was uneventful, and again we arrived late and stayed at another dingy hostel by the bus terminal. The next day we went to Immigration to get our exit stamps, and then we we were told we did in fact need a visa to enter the country and they were not going to let us leave without one. This left us in a difficult situation, as you can only apply for a visa from outside Paraguay. I explained the whole story, how we had actually gone to the consulate to get a visa etc. and we were told by two separate people that we didn't need one. After much discussion in broken Spanish, they realised that there wasn't anything we could do about it and they let us go. Unfortunately that meant that we could not cross back in to Paraguay, so instead we headed to Iguazu Falls and made plans to go back to Argentina.