Ybycui Sand Dunes
Adding to the allure of San Cosme y Damian are the sand dunes jutting out from the waters of the Yacyreta lake. Exploring the series of small islands, spread across fifty hectares, you may feel you are not in landlocked Paraguay. Some of the dunes are over thirty meters high – unfortunately this is not enough to spare them from becoming completely submerged once the Yacyreta Dam raises the reservoir’s waters to the projected eighty-three-meter level. It takes between forty-five minutes and an hour to reach the dunes by boat and, due to the heat, this trip is best done in the early morning. There are several local guides but it is best to contact the tourism commission of San Cosme to see who has upcoming trips scheduled as going with a group will significantly reduce the trip cost (approximate price for a 10-person boat is Gs. 500,000). Tel: 0985 110 047
Hospedaje Aguapey This new hotel about eight blocks from the ruins arrange for tours of the mission, sand dunes and surrounding areas including the Yacyreta hydroelectric reserve in Ayolas. Tel: 073 725 293, 0981 981 729, www.turismoaguapey.jimdo.com, on Facebook, located at the end of the paved road into town across from the police station
Hospedaje Stella Maris This small humble house has two guest rooms with a shared bathroom. The owners serve up basic but tasty Paraguayan fare including juicy bife al caballo (steak smothered in grilled onions and an egg) out of the Stella Marris y Rafael restaurant next door. Tel: 073 2 75 207, 0981 474 480, located on the corner directly behind the mission’s school building. Gs. 50,000, shared bathroom, A/C
The turn off for San Cosme y Damian is located at km 306 of Route 1 about sixty-five kilometers from Encarnacion and eighteen from General Delgado (on the right coming from Asuncion). From here it is twenty-seven kilometers down a paved road. Taxis are available from the Coronel Bogado bus terminal for between Gs. 80,000 and Gs. 100,000 round trip.
The La Cosmena and Perla del Sur bus lines make daily trips between San Cosme and the terminals in Encarnacion (approximately a two hour ride) and Coronel Bogado (approximately a one hour ride). The last bus leaves at approximately 4:30pm and bus fare is Gs. 8,000. There are also buses to San Cosme y Damian that leave from Asuncion’s bus terminal daily. Gs. 55,000.
The department of Neembucu is home to some of Paraguay’s most extensive wetlands. Over 70 percent of the department is made up of wetlands. Many areas can only be explored with locals who eke out an existence in the wetlands, surviving off fishing, hunting and small scale agriculture. Relatively untouched by development, the area is still home to animals such as lobos marinos, nutrias, and any number of birds. The area’s sandy soil (there is none of Eastern Paraguay’s characteristic red dirt) makes agriculture difficult and most of Neembucu’s inhabitants live off small scale cattle ranching The picturesque wetlands of Neembucu were the backdrop for some of the most intense battles that took place during the Triple Alliance War. South of Pilar are the historic ruins of Humaita, almost entirely bombarded by enemy troops, and sleepy fishing towns of General Diaz and Paso de Patria. Birds and fish abound along the banks of the river and in smaller inland lagoons. The area along the country’s southern border is quiet and undeveloped, making it ideal for fishing and birding.
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