Estancia (Ranch) Tourism
Visiting a working estancia can be a rewarding, yet often overlooked, component of a trip to Paraguay, providing visitors with a glimpse of life in rural Paraguay. There are estancias for every taste from upscale to bare basics – your level of involvement in the farm’s daily chores depends on your interest. Though removed from urban areas, many will help arrange for private transportation from the nearest town. Most include a flexible pricing structure whereby you can choose pension completa (full room and board) or pay for accommodations and food separately. Those on a budget should inquire about cooking their own food and find out how accessible the nearest town is. Some estancias are too remote to make buying outside food an option. Prior reservations are often necessary, and it is common for upscale estancias in remote areas to require guests to pay in advance to its headquarters in Asuncion.
Rural tourism organizations APATUR (covering all of Paraguay) and EMITUR (specializing in the Misiones department) can provide further information on specific estancias.
APATUR – Asociacion Paraguaya de Turismo Rural Tel: 021 210 550,
www. turismorural. org.py
Emitur – Empredimiento Misionero de Turismo Tel: 0782 20 286, 0975 626780, www. emitur. com.py
Sidebar: Many estancias and retreat complexes offer day passes that include use of cooking facilities such as outdoor grills – (parrillas), covered quinchos with tables and chairs, as well as pools and soccer or volleyball courts. They are a great option for backpackers looking for some R&R.
Outside of national parks there are few official campgrounds, and the facilities that do exist are rudimentary at best. The exception to this rule are establishments run by European immigrants in areas such as Colonia Independencia – as these cater to European guests they often include decent camping options. Throughout the country there are many establishments set up for group retreats or retiros (for schools and religious groups, etc) that have dorm-style rooms and options for camping as well. These offer very basic cabins with dorm rooms and access to kitchen facilities (most groups bring their own food). Furnishings rarely include more than bunk beds and bare mattresses, so expect to bring your own linens. Balnearios or swimming holes are another option for camping, although these tend to attract rowdy crowds, especially on summer weekends.
Extended Stay Options
Furnished apartments are rare in Paraguay, and long term visitors may find it easier to take advantage of extended stay options offered by a handful of hotels. Clasipar (www.clasipar.paraguay.com) is a good source for rental listings, though the rental market operates mostly through word of mouth. If you are working with a local NGO your best bet is to ask your local contact to help you find available housing.
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