7-day road trip from Asunción to Iguassu Falls (or vv) following the footsteps of the last 400 years of its history of the Guaraní ethnic group.
Approximate driving distance: 1,300 km
7 days/8 nights | Paraguay/Argentina | 1,300 km
At a glance
The Guarani had lived throughout the centuries in the dense jungles and swamps of the Paraná basins looking for the “land without evil”, a mythical land where they would be able to achieve their highest life purpose.
Their way of life underwent a dramatic change with the arrival of the Portuguese and Spanish. The frequent visits of slavers forced them to choose two paths: hide inside the jungle or seek protection in the Jesuit missions.
In this expeditionary journey through the Guaraní world, you will experience its ancestral and recent history, its integration with migratory currents and its current way of life.
An adventure tour, through colorful landscapes, crossed by rivers, wild jungles, infinite estuaries, fields lined with palm trees, wooden houses and ox-drawn carts.
Touring this area enriches those who want to be the protagonists of a magical journey where customs and nature will leave a permanent mark on their memories.
Throughout the days, you will discover unaltered sectors of the natural environment where the tribes of the Guaraní people developed and are currently developing.
Your experience will help promote the conservation of the jungle, the last possible refuge for the preservation and continuity of its Guaraní culture.
We will finish the trip in the incredible environment of the jungle and the Iguazu Falls, an overwhelming experience between the roar of the water and the dew wall in the middle of the jungle.
When to go: whole the year
ASUNCION City - YAGUARON - SANTA MARIA (Jesuit Missions)
Today we will go deep into Paraguay, passing through typical provincial towns with picturesque old houses and squares.
We constantly come across street vendors carrying wicker baskets loaded with chipa, a delicious cheese pancake made with cassava starch, on their heads.
Yaguarón is an unusual colonial city hidden among rocky cliffs south of Asunción. In the 17th century, it was a Franciscan missionary settlement. His church deserves its reputation as the most decorative and beautiful church on the continent.
Continuing through a cattle zone we making two essential stops to appreciate collections of sculptures and statues from the Jesuit-Guarani legacy.
Overnight in a simple hotel with a charming setting in a small town.
Driving distance: 300 km.
Small towns along the way add attraction to the landscape, most with cobbled or dirt streets, with chickens and domestic animals in the surroundings. You can breathe the calm of the countryside and a way of life that seems to have stopped in time.
In each town there are rudimentary stalls filled with bunches of herbs and healing roots, natural additives that are mixed with mortar before putting them into an infusion based on yerba mate that the natives call “tereré” and it is drunk ice cold.
The route offers an intimate look at the Guaraní culture and allows us to understand the importance of the Jesuits in South America. Despite the magnificence of these attractions, you may find yourself alone when visiting them.
The Jesuit ruins of Trinidad and Jesús de Tavarangüe are living testimonies of the past. They are probably the least visited UNESCO World Heritage sites on the planet.
These buildings evoke shocking moments of the Spanish colonial era when the Jesuits organized the Guaranís in solidarity, respecting their customs, helping them and teaching those ways to organize themselves to be more prosperous.
In the afternoon, we will stay in a picturesque German immigrant town in a prosperous agricultural environment.
BELLA VISTA - CROSS-TO ARGENTINA - JUNGLE YABOTI
When crossing the vast Paraná river by raft towards Argentina, we will enter the roads of the region of an agricultural region populated by descendants of German, Ukrainian, Polish immigrants, etc.
This entire area, both in Paraguay and Argentina, was the epicenter of a large migratory mass of European population, at times you will imagine being on a trip back in time to a rural Europe that no longer exists.
We will continue discovering wonderful ruins of the Jesuit Reductions in small towns.
To penetrate and feel the world where the Guarani originally inhabited, there is no alternative but to advance along dirt roads into the depths of the jungle and settle there for a few days.
We will stay in a cozy lodge hidden in the middle of the jungle, in the Yabotí Biosphere Reserve, far away from the noise of any town or busy route.
Driving distance: 230 km.
Jungle experiences day. You will enjoy the virgin forest, its smells, colors and noises. The natural area that has a unique beauty and incredible wildlife.
Despite the dramatic reduction of the natural forest in the last 150 years, an intact nucleus remains, protected by National Parks and Reserves services.
The Guaraní culture is as rich as the biodiversity of the habitat where they have always lived. The jungle provided food and livelihoods for indigenous peoples and local communities.
Driving distance: 100 km.
YABOTI BIOSPHERE RESERVE - IGUASSU FALLS
The Moconá falls, "the one that swallows everything", in the Guarani language, are not always shown: one can come several times to the jungle and not see them or always see them. Its depends on the river flow.
In case of not being visible due to the rising of the river level, we will visit another impressive waterfall lost in the heart of the jungle.On the way to the Iguassu Falls we will circulate through scenic routes and we will enter the jungle roads of the region.
At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, thousands of Central European families established themselves as settlers in this land, interacted with the original Guaraní and preserved the traditions of their countries of origin. The new generations preserve to this day the way of life of the pioneers.
Entering the Iguassu National Park and the green corridor of Misiones, two green walls rise on the side of a narrow path, and in some segments, the branches on the opposite sides form a natural gallery.
Overnight at one inn, that was the home of a pioneer family, next to a natural balcony on the edge of the Paraná ravines, off the Paraguayan coast.
Driving distance: 350 km.
THE IGUASSU FALLS
We will dedicate this entire day to visit the Argentine side of the falls. This National Park in the subtropical jungle is one of the seven natural wonders of the Earth.
As we get closer the roar of the water will get louder and louder, above the jungle you will see a cloud of steam and mist rising a hundred meters into the sky.
Once in front of the falls, you will not be able to see or hear anything other than the fury of the water, the visual impact is so strong that you will forget everything you have read and heard about them.
The experience is so strong that an illustrious visitor told herself that she only managed to say: "Poor Niagara."
In front of the devil's throat it is not possible to think about any of that, it feels as if the earth is shaking, almost everyone feels vertigo, some tend to have unreal sensations: You can even imagine being at the gates of hell.
Iguassu is the Guaraní word to describe the "Immense Waters". According to Indian legend, a jealous serpent god collapsed the river, thus creating the waterfalls, to prevent two lovers from fleeing.
After lunch (not included), we will take you to the Brazilian side of the waterfalls to admire the panoramic beauty of the landscape.
From the Brazilian side, you will enjoy the view and how the torrents of water crash onto the rocks below.
The walkways run along the falls until you reach the Devil's Throat canyon, where the spray of the water and the view will enchant you.
At the end of the visit, we will transfer you to the airport in Argentina or Brazil, depending on your next destination.
From Asunción City or Puerto Iguassu City, we can travel by land between them or flight back home with a connection in Buenos Aires or Rio de Janeiro.
This optional attraction can be inserted in the trip from day 4. In this area the Jesuit-Guaraní influence is breathed in all its corners, walking around these surroundings will allow you to observe vestiges of the past and feel the evolution of the Guaranís seeking refuge afterwards of the decline of the Jesuit missions.
Driving distance: 700 km
DAY 1: ESTEROS DEL IBERA
We will enter "neighborhood" roads, crossing gates and cattle ranchers to enter one of the portals of the northern section of the Iberá National Park.
Along the way, you can easily spot abundant wildlife from the transportation window.
You can see alligators gliding through the reeds, giant otters swimming in the lagoons, and hear the chorus of an astonishing variety of birds. It's also a great place to look for the elusive capybara, the giant amphibian rodent found only in South America.
Accommodation in a typical ranch dating from 1635
Driving distance: 250 Km.
DAY 2: ESTEROS DEL IBERA
Given the rugged nature of these "off the beaten track" attractions, the weather conditions and road conditions will suggest the best alternatives to visit the magic of Esteros del Iberá National Park. Because the great landscape and cultural richness of this land, your experience will always be fascinating
These days you will have the opportunity to walk along trails and sail in boats in the estuaries, you will observe incredibly docile wildlife, as you could hardly have imagined, and you will circulate through rough roads and see incredible views and pristine landscapes and you will walk through small sandy streets in its charming towns.
Touring the towns of Iberá and its places, you will also be able to access a unique culture, the customs of the people of the estuary: their way of life, their work, and their beliefs and delight yourself with their typical foods.
The hospitable inhabitants of these areas combine with natural beauty, they are eager to show their work and their housework to those who come to their houses.
Driving distance to the Yabotí reserve: 430 km.