Paraguay Travel Guide, Gap Year Volunteering and Tours
Paraguay is centrally located in South America with a wealth of natural resources and this destination is becoming more and more popular with travellers seeking to see somewhere new and get off the well established route in the continent. If you visit Paraguay you can see spectacular sights, experience a rich culture, learn more about the interesting history and see exotic wildlife.
Paraguay Travel Ideas, Gap Year Programs & Experiences
Get inspiration for the best things to do if you would like to go travelling, backpacking or take a gap year in Paraguay.
Paraguay Travel Guide
Get information, inspiration and ideas for travelling to Paraguay.
- Capital: Asunción (population 85,000 approx)
- Currency: Guarani (PYG)
- Population: 6,349,000 (2009 est.)
- Language: Spanish + Guarani
- International Dailing Code +595
- Country Area: 406,750 km2
Top Reasons to Visit Paraguay
- Authentic experience due to lesser visitor numbers compared to other countries in the region
- Beautiful countryside
- Get off the beaten track
To enter Paraguay you will need to obtain a visa in advance, have a valid passport with at least 6 months to run and sometimes you might be required to show a return ticket or proof of funds. You can enter Paraguay by air and border crossing with neighbouring countries.
Weather & Best Time to Visit
Paraguay is an all year round destination and there is no specific best time to book a trip. Spring and summer are highly recommended as the climate makes sightseeing more enjoyable.
- Summer: October to April
- Winter: May to September
Best Places to Visit in Paraguay
There are so many highlights of the country, here are some places you should add to your Paraguay travel itinerary:
- Ciudad del Este
- Get up close to wildlife at the Chaco National Park
- Explore the Parque Nacional Ybycuí rainforest
- Lake Ypacaraí
- Monday Waterfall
- Ñacunday Falls
- Vallemí Caverns, San Lazaro
- Eye of the Sea (Ojo de Mar)
- Dunes of St Cosmos and Damian
- Tree Tunnel, Santa Rita
- Lake Ypoá
- Kururu Kua
Paraguay Travel Tips
- Flights: Book flights in advance to get the best deals.
- Accommodation: You will struggel to find backpacker style hostels in Paraguay but there are lots of cheap hotels and guest houses located around the country. In cities you can find a range of accommodation from budget to expensive and everything in-between. In the larger locations you can book accommodation in advance but as there aren't many tourists here you can just be able to turn up and get a room on arrival. You will find prices cheaper outside of Asuncion.
- Transport: There is a reliable and extensive public/private bus service connecting the whole country. This isn't luxurious but is comfortable enough to get around. In cities like Asuncion you can get around using car/motorbike taxis.
Health & Safety
Although Paraguay is the second poorest country in South America you will find people very friendly and you shouldn't encounter any serious problems int terms of safety. Paraguay is generally a very safe for tourists, there is some crime in the country but this is rarely directed towards visitors. Always get advice from locals as there are some areas to avoid and tips to help you stay safe in the cities for example taking care of your belongings. Drivers in this country can be a little rash so take extra caution when crossing streets. International food and drink is available in most places, local food is very tasty and usually consists of rice, vegtables and meat.
View our South America budget travel tips.
Top Reasons to Book
- Get an experienced guide
- See the best places
- Go off the beaten track to see locations difficult to reach
- Eat at the best local restaurants
- Enjoy a stress free journey
- Get an authentic local experience
Tours for Solo Travellers
Our tours are perfect if you are travelling solo and would like to meet other people and travel in a group. You will get to meet other international travellers and get taken to the best locations in the country with an experienced guide.
Paraguay Budget Tours
We have a selection of tours for all budgets, so whether you are looking to explore on the cheap or you have a bit more money to spend you will be able to find a trip to match your interests. Our website features lots of cheap tours allowing you to discover the highlights of the country and not break the bank.
Paraguay Tours for 18 35's
Most of our tours specifically cater for the 18-35 age group and are a really popular option due to meeting other people, getting day-to-day activities, hotel check-ins, selected meals, accommodation and also transport/guides included in the price. Don't worry if you are slightly older, most tours accept all ages.
Paraguay Family Tours
Looking to explore with your family? Our website features specialist tours specifically for families. You will get a safe and structured authentic experience and also get lots of free time to enjoy the experience with your family.
Usually travellers of the same sex will share a twin room, but there is also the option to pay a little extra and get a private room. Accommodation can vary depending on the tour and location. Some tours also include homestays which allow for a facsinating cultural exchange.
Typical group sizes are around 10-18 travellers with an average of 12 but this can vary between the tour and operator.
On most tours you will travel overland in a private small tour van. For day trips and excursions sometimes you will use public transport and sometimes use internal flights to allow you to see the highlights as quick as possible.
How to Book
Search our featured trips above or contact us for specific advice.
If you have ever joined a tour and would like to review or share your experience please contact us.
How to Volunteer in Paraguay
Volunteers are needed all year round, some organisations require a short join duration from a week upwards, we recommend staying for at least 2 weeks or 1 month and over to be able to help as much as possible. Longer term placements are also available.
Most organisations will require you to be aged 17+, be in good health and be open to the idea of living and working in a different country. Students and non-students can apply, you might want to learn some Spanish or local Guarani words and phrases to improve communication with local people. Most in country staff speak English. If you have any previous skills these will be put to good use but if you don't, full training and orientation is usually provided on arrival. There is no best time to apply, summer can get very hot and wet so avoid if you are not a fan of sunny humid conditions and also July is the usually the coldest month of the year.
Top Reasons to Volunteer in Paraguay
When researching an amazing experience volunteering in South America, Paraguay might not be top of the places you think about. This country is less popular and also less developed compared to nearby nations but there are so many reasons why we think you might want to consider this country. You will get a really authentic experience, visit a country with natural beauty, meet friendly locals and experience the time of your life. You will also be able to make a difference and improve your language skills whilst in your spare time you will be able to explore the country.
Location of Projects
You can join placements throughout the country in places like San Lorenzo and the capital city Asunción. Placements with animals and nature are usually in rural areas.
Types of Volunteer Projects in Paraguay
Large international humanitarian organisations like Habitat for Humanity, WWF and Peace Corps have been placing volunteers in Paraguay for a number of years. Amigos de las Americas is a great organisation if you are currently in college and looking to volunteer in South America or in the developing world.
Community, Education & Teaching Volunteer Work in Paraguay
Paraguay has a population of around 6,550,000 people and around 30-40% live below the world poverty line which is quite a shocking stat. You can play a role in working to improve infrastructure and living conditions for local people, work on education or healthcare efforts. Some projects allow you to help marginalized and disadvantaged youngsters in the capital city whilst there are schools throughout the country which provide placements and internships to international participants.
Some programs have been established to help people advance technically with the aim of increasing employment prospects, you could help with professional training and business planning. Local NGO's also need help with marketing their organisations both on and offline, Fundacion Paraguaya and Centro Educativo Mbaracayu are two organisations we recommend, their aims are to help people and entrepeneurs get ideas off the ground and to get assistance with job hunting.
Conservation & Volunteering with Animals in Paraguay
Conservation projects in Paraguay are popular, this destination has spectacular forests and animals which are unique to the country.
How to Apply
You can choose to apply through a sending agency or direct with a local charity or NGO. If you are looking for low cost or free volunteering programs in Paraguay then you will need to apply with a local NGO, usually you will need to pay for food and accommodation separately. Some international companies offer structured programs which include transfers, meals, board and also group flights but you will need to pay a fee. You might also be required to, or want to make a donation.
Paraguay Volunteer Reviews & Testimonials
Have you ever participated on a volunteering program in Paraguay? Get in touch to share your experience today.
An Experience of Volunteering on the Paraguay Forest Conservation Project
Overall I had a great time volunteering at the National Park helping with conservation efforts, it was a real experience and I learnt a lot. I spent a month there, all arranged at fairly short notice as I had unexpectedly got some time off work - I wasn't sure what to expect and had never been to South America before.
The trip there was fairly straightforward although made slightly easier for me as 2 of the scientists travelled with me from Asuncion. It was a 6 hour bus to Encarnacion where I met Paul the chief scientist, then another 1 hour bus ride followed by 1.5 hours in the 4x4 - it takes a full day. The base is right on the edge of the forest and consists of a farm, a hut for the forest guards who were very friendly and a couple of other huts.
Accommodation was better than I expected, but fairly basic. I had my own room in a cabin which was inside a large hangar (a comfortable bed with all bedding provided) and there was shared bathroom (hot water most of the time) etc. You could wash your clothes yourself or for a very small charge get them washed and ironed for you (well worth it). All meals were provided in the farm house and were good - never went hungry and plenty of variety. Given more time I would have made an effort to learn some before I went - in saying that I managed.
Language was not a problem when working as Paul and all the other scientists spoke English. In terms of the work it was varied and you could set your own pace and take a breather when you felt like it, if you wanted a day off, or didn't like something it was not a problem (I never took a break).
A typical day would be up around 7, breakfast and then go on a trek, which might be to observe a specific bird nest, or take some sound recordings in the forest, or just to explore the forest. Lunch at 12, and then usually a siesta until 4 (it was getting up to 40 Celsius when I was there and getting very humid). Following that, some work in the shade (e.g. measuring and identifying butterflies that we had caught in the morning).
Then around 5.30 we would go and check on some bird nests, measuring eggs and chicks, taking photos etc - for one of the nests this involved going out on the lake in the rowing boat. 8pm was dinner and after that we would sometimes put the net up to catch bats, or go down to the lake to see the capivara and frogs (the sound is deafening). Then bed around 11. Mosquitoes etc. were not a problem and there was a fan in the room for when it was hot. It would rain every 4 or 5 days which would cool things down.
The guards go deep into the forest most days and we went with them occasionally so that we could see more of the forest. Once a week the guards would have a BBQ which we sometimes joined and was good. Also there is a small 2 seater plane used for surveying the forest and find illegal loggers - it was a real highlight to go up in it and see the expanse of the forest.
Other highlights include seeing (& hearing) the monkeys, catching and holding bats, getting to within a few feet of the humming birds, seeing a snake at close quarters, the lake at night, and the sheer variety of wildlife that is on offer. The place is remote (part of the attraction for me), there is no TV or radio (ipod was a life saver). There is a PC you can use to get on the internet (small charge) although it is very slow. Strangely enough though, you can just get reception for your mobile.
Once a week the guards went to the local village (an hour away) and would get anything you needed toothpaste, beer..... In the month I was there I spent about $100 on the flight, washing, internet use and beer for the month. The scientists (Alberto, Lauri and Paul) that I worked with were excellent. Friendly, patient and always willing to spend time with me. They trust you to do real worthwhile stuff e.g. after we caught a load of butterflies, Paul gave a 'lesson' in how to distinguish them and then using a reference book we would identify them, then measure them and record all the details in a database.
I took loads of photos whilst I was there and many of them are on the Fauna Paraguay web site, and I will be credited on some of the papers from the work we did that are to be published in journals. I was looking for a career break, something totally different from my work (IT consultant) and this fitted the bill. But it also taught me an awful lot about identifying so many different creatures, and raised my awareness of the plight of the forest. Since I got back home I have started doing talks about my experiences and I keep in touch with Paul. I would definitely go back but next time would learn Spanish in Paraguay first. Finally, thank-you again for your support and facilitating it all, would definitely recommend you to any potential volunteers!
By Chris E, UK