In landlocked Paraguay any body of water is a potential vacation spot with families crowding river banks and creek beds to enjoy respite from the heat. Secluded within San Pedro, Laguna Blanca is one of the country’s most picturesque and pristine waterfront getaways. The 147 hectare lake is crystal clear with white sandy shores surrounded by dense vegetation. The lake’s waters are very shallow, creating a natural wading pool perfect for small children (and sunbathing adults). Aside from the natural beauty, what sets Laguna Blanca apart from other bathing areas in Paraguay are the strictly enforced environmental regulations. Beach goers and campers must keep music at a low level and are prohibited from littering or entering the water with beverages. Advance reservations are necessary as there is a one hundred person cap on visitors per day to keep environmental damage to a minimum. Kayaks, snorkels, a rowboat and even horses are available for a fee or you can just pass the time floating amongst the lake’s tall reeds (bring your own floats or use your ground pad in a pinch). Those in private vehicles can also inquire for directions to a series of large sand dunes located approximately two hours away by car. The ranch offers both beach camping and basic rooms, though the latter fill up fast. Meals are only available during the high season (December-April) but campers are free to prepare their own food (though there is nowhere nearby to purchase food, so you must bring in everything including beverages). During the week this secluded ranch has the feel of a private beach. On the weekends and over holidays it fills up with vacationers including large families from nearby Mennonite colonies (try not to stare as conservative Mennonite women take a dip into the lake fully clothed).
As of 2010 Laguna Blanca was officially declared a protected area. The lake’s sandy shores and the scrub like savannah that grows from it are typical of the Cerrado ecosystem. This bio-diverse nature reserve is home to a number of important bird species including the White-winged Nightjar which is known to breed in only two other areas in the world. In fact the conservation NGO Para la Tierra (www.paralatierra.org) runs a field station in Laguna Blanca (about 250 meters round the left-hand side of the lake). English speaking Karina Atkinson can provide excellent information about the area’s flora and fauna. Nature lovers and photographers with time on their hands can also volunteer or intern with Para La Tierra (an excellent way to enjoy Paraguay’s natural side with the added benefit of having the lake at your fingertips). Tel: 021 424 760, the turn off to Laguna Blanca is located at a medium sized crossroads called Cruce Santa Rosa in the town of Santa Rosa de Aguaray on km 330 of Route 3. To the left is a road heading to Nueva Germania and Puerto Antequera and to the right is a dirt road heading to Laguna Blanca (there are often several taxis parked here). From here it is approximately twenty-three kilometers to the main entrance. There are signs but these are frequently removed. By car following the dirt road you will cross over two bridges after which the road forks. Take the left-hand fork and continue till you see an elevated
water tank on the right-hand side of the road. Take a right here and cross over another bridge after which you take a left towards Colonia Santa Barbara. The large signed entrance is on the left-hand side of the road. Once at the gate you may need to call the main number or talk to the people living across the road in order to be let in. A three-kilometer long dirt and sand road leads from the main entrance to the visitor’s area by the lakeshore. Buses from Asuncion to Concepcion and San Pedro pass by Santa Rosa de Aguaray, however you must make sure they are going via 25 de Diciembre (signed por 25 or x 25). Buses going along the Trans Chaco highway to Concepcion will bypass Route 3 entirely and buses going via Coronel Oviedo will add at least two hours to the trip. Two buses headed to the Colonia Santa Barbara and Carapai run from the Cruce Santa Rosa past the main entrance to Laguna Blanca. The Galaxia passes by at 12:30pm daily (returning past the entrance at between 7:30 and 8am) and La Paraguaya passes by at 2:30pm (returning between 10:30 and 11am). Only La Paraguaya runs on Sundays leaving at 2pm and returning at 11am. Show up early for all buses, just in case. www.lagunablanca.com.py, Camping Gs. 30,000 per person (bathroom facilities are generally well maintained), There is also a rustic cabin with simple rooms (bunk beds) for 80,000 per person including breakfast (some people choose to stay in Santa Rosa del Aguaray but due to the bus schedule this is only feasible in a private vehicle), meals (only December-April) Gs. 20,000 per person, horseback riding, kayaking, snorkeling. Advanced reservations required.
The department of Concepcion extends north from the department capital of the same name to the northern border with Brazil, marked by the Apa River. While Concepcion is a department of beautiful rivers and dramatic landscapes, lack of paved roads makes areas to the north especially hard to reach. However, attractions close to the Paraguay River such as the limestone caves in Vallemi and San Lazaro are accessible by boat and bus. Parque Nacional Paso Bravo and Parque Nacional Serrania de San Luis are national parks with abundant flora and fauna but no infrastructure for visitors.
Rancho Laguna Blanca Paraguay Photo Gallery
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