PARAGUAY (República del Paraguay)
An often overlooked country in South America, it's has it's own almost unique charm and identity that separates it from it's neighbours. It's the nearest you'll find to the wild west, with the West of the country wild roaming planes filled with cowboys. While elsewhere the cowboys come as black market operatives. Paraguay has too many problems to deal with it's black economy, and so it goes on very obviously. This was taken on a public bus going from Paraguay into Brasil. Brasilian customs don't look very hard.
Language: Spanish and Guaraní
Visa: Most Western Countries don't need a Visa
Plug: 2 pin European Standard 220 Volts
GMT: GMT -4
GDP Ranking (IMF): # 106 £3,890 (similar to Egypt & Jordan)
Communications: Country code is 595
Health: Ensure you're vaccinated against tetanus and typhoid, yellow fever and hepatitis's A and B. Protect day and night against mosquitoes, Dengue is a big problem here (a huge outbreak occurred in 2011) and Malaria is also prevalent, mainly in the East. The author opted not to use any anti-malarials while travelling in the dry season. Usual washed fruit/vegetables avoidance.
When to Visit: May to September are the coolest months, the rest of the year sees temperatures rise along with the humidity.
Personal Safety: Apart from usual large city awareness, Paraguay is mostly safe. On the borders, particularly with Brazil, smuggling is visible and common place.
Getting Around: Apart from the West, it's easy to get around Paraguay. Plenty of buses fill the main inter-city routes. Roads are generally in good condition.
What to see/do: Paraguay rarely features on most tour firms itineraries, or back packers lists. There's little to do. The North & West of the country, known as the Chaco, is mostly taken up by large cattle ranches, and rather monotonous. Asuncion has no real tourist facilities. Encarnación has some Jesuit ruins.
Food & Drink: With cattle rearing being a main industry, as in most of South America, meat is big on the menu here, along with maize. Local dishes to try include Soyo, which involves meat crushed by mortar and mixed with spices and seasoning. Also common is Sopa Paraguaya, not actually a soup, but type of corn based bread. Paraguay is devoid of local beers, and imports. Try Caña instead, made from sugarcane, or the hot beverage Mate variation, Terere.