Northern Paraneña is a region of Paraguay.
- 1 Concepción – The capital of the department and a city distinguished by the beauty of many of its public buildings and residences. One of the prettiest towns in Paraguay. It can be a good starting point for touring the northern sections of Paraguay. There are a number of national parks, touristic estancias and some pretty small towns that are picturesque, historic and interesting to visit. Additionally, independent travellers and backpackers continue to the Pantanal region of Bolivia and Brazil sailing up the Paraguay river by boat.
- 2 Bella Vista Norte
- 3 Belén – The oldest town in the department, a former Jesuit mission and located right on the Tropic of Capricorn.
- 4 Horqueta – A large town with an important cattle and agricultural production.
- 5 Loreto – A small picturesque town not far from Concepción.
- 6 Pedro Juan Caballero – Beyond Cerro Corá National Park and bus destination for trips to the national park. Also features numerous shopping oppotunities due to its border town nature.
- 7 San Estanislao – the main city along the way between Asunción and Concepción - Pedro Juan Caballero.
- 8 Vallemi – A riverside town at the top northwest corner of the department. A cement producer town with more than 50 caves to explore nearby.
- 9 Bahia Negra (part of Chaco) – Gateway to Bolivia and Brazil, only reachable by cargo ferry once a week or bus from Filadelfia on Monday when it did not rain before.
- 10 Fuerte Olimpo (part of Chaco) – A busy port town along the Aquidabán river only reachable by cargo ferry with two/three interesting hills to climb nearby for fantastic view.
While Northern Paraneña is a region of beautiful rivers and dramatic landscapes, poor road quality often makes areas to the north especially hard to reach. However, attractions close to the Paraguay river such as the limestone caves in Vallemí and San Lázaro are also accessible by boat. The Aquidabán river, about 45 km to the north of Concepción on the road to Vallemí, draws visitors from the region to its serene sandy beaches. Parque Nacional Paso Bravo and Parque Nacional Serranía de San Luis are national parks with abundant flora and fauna but no infrastructure for visitors.
Route 3 and Route 5 connect the region with the rest of Paraguay. Route 5 links Concepción to Pedro Juan Caballero 215 km to the northeast at the border with Mato Grosso do Sul State in Central-West Brazil. Route 3 departs Asunción heading northwest past San Estanislao and reaches Yby Yaú where it turn west on Route 5 to reach Concepción city after 460 km. An alternative is travelling along the Transchaco Highway up to Pozo Colorado then turn east on Route "Coronel Rafael Franco" towards Concepción travelling through the Chaco wilderness and crossing the Paraguay river through the Nanawa bridge for a total journey of 410 km. Route "Coronel Rafael Franco" that links Concepción to the central Chaco where it joins the Transchaco Highway at Pozo Colorado and continue northwest to reach the Mennonite colonies of Filadelfia, Loma Plata and Neuland which are 335 km away. This route offers the chance to watch bird-life and the wilderness of the Chaco. The Transchaco continues northwest past Mariscal Estigarribia and reaches Bolivia after 630 km from Concepción.
Only Route 5 and the route to Vallemí are paved. To access the National Parks and the most remote locations, the roads are dirt and in rainy weather tourists are not advised to travel.
Seems to be more easier that in northern Argentina, especially if you look like a tourist.
See #Do for the famous Aquidabán Cargo Ferry and alternatives.
The are some smaller planes that can be used between Asunción and Bahía Negra for example.
- SETAM (Grupo de Transporte Aéreo), ☏ . Wednesday. Asuncíon to/from Bahía Negra.
- AIRMEN S.A., ☏ , , , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. For flights over the Los Tres Gigantes park, and anything closeby.
- AEROTAX, S.A., ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com.
- Concepción's three museums each represent a different era of Paraguay's history.
- The yearly Expo Norte fair held every September. There are rodeo shows, food and games, and a beauty pageant.
- There are estancias around Concepción that welcome visitors.
- The river Aquidabán, north of Concepción, has some of the finest beaches in the country, with big stretches of proper yellow sand, but the best is the Tagatiyá stream, which is famous for its crystalline waters and coloured little fish. There are also small waterfalls, and beautiful scenery.
- Aquidabán Cargo Ferry (Barco Aquidabán), ☏ , . Go: (from) Concepción Tuesday 11:00, Vallemí Wednesday 12:00, Fuerte Olimpo Thursday 12:00, (arrive) Bahia Negra Friday 06:00. Return: (from) Bahia Negra Friday 11:30, (arrive) Concepción Sunday 01:30. The port of Concepción is the departing/ending point of this commercially scheduled cargo ship that travels the Paraguay river. It departs once a week, travels upriver to Bahia Negra, and then it returns to Concepción on Sunday, after stopping in Vallemí, Fuerte Olimpo and every river port along its way. You can stop by the port on Sundays and Tuesdays to watch all manner of cargo, from mattresses to motorcycles and tomatoes, get loaded and unloaded, a living relic of the river in itself. Only lately they have installed a railing—before, often people fell off the ship and were never seen again. If you just want a taste and get off in Vallemí, you probably will not need a hammock or cabin, just reserve yourself a seat (or two) early enough—choose the upper right front bench, which is close to the wall, so you might be able to block it fully for you. Aboard, 6 vendors or so are selling everything from fruits to cake to hamburgers. There are many power plugs in the ceiling of the lower deck for charging your phone—you can probably leave it there unwatched if it is not the newest iPhone. Otherwise, ask the cook who has some sockets or buy something from the vendors and ask them to watch your phone for a while. In June some nights are cold on deck with the wind—bring a blanket. Concepción-Bahía Negra: GS.130,000, Concepción-Fuerte Olimpo: GS.110,000, Concepción-Vallemí: GS.65,000. Cabin for 4 people: GS.100,000 (reserve!). Rent of hammock for full one-way trip: GS.40,000. Meal: GS.10,000 for a coffee with milk breakfast, GS.15,000 for main meals of pasta/meat or rice/meat. Empanadas or milanesas downstairs for GS.5,000-10,000. Tickets can also be bought the Monday afternoon before after 14:00 in the port.
- Fuerte Olimpo-Concepción Ferry. Go: (from) Fuerte Olimpo Thursday 18:00, (arrive) Concepción Saturday. Return: (from) Concepción Saturday 18:00, (arrive) Fuerte Olimpo Monday. This is a smaller ferry than Aquidabán and can be used in case you do not want to get the whole way/time to Bahía Negra. It leaves from Fuerte Olimpo about 6 hr after the Aquidabán Ferry has passed by going north, giving you enough time to see the town and climb one of the nearby hills. Concepción-Fuerte Olimpo: GS.90,000, Concepcion-Vallemí: GS.65,000.
- Boat Cacique II. Upstream: leaves Asunción Wednesday morning, calls at Concepción on Thursday evening. Downstream: leaves Concepción on Friday around 6AM, arrives Asunción about 22 hr later. Goes between Asunción and Vallemi, 2 days. GS.53,000.
- 1 Cerro Corá National Park (45 km before Pedro Juan Caballero on Ruta 5. Any bus on the Asunción/Concepción-Pedro Juan Cabellero route can drop you at the junction, from where it is 1 km walk to the park office. Bus from Concepción: 4 hr, GS.30,000.). daily 07:00-17:00, but camping inside is possible. Light trekking (8-13 km), caves with petroglyphs, beautiful landscape and viewpoints in the midst of hills popping out in the lush green nature, and the occasional jaguar. Also, there an impressive and depressing war monument, for which most people come here. However, checkout the trails and camp sites on OpenStreetMap. Free.
- 2 Estación Biológica Los Tres Gigantes (Conveniently located on the way to/from Bolivia. Either you organise a boat with park rangers (GS.800,000 for up to 5 people) or use the trails through the jungle, which are clearly visible: use OpenStreetMap. If you come in from Bolivia, i.e. the north, you will need a boat, which should be available from the southern end of the F4 road coming from Puerto Suárez, which lies opposite of Corumbá (Brazil). Puerto Caballo (in Paraguay) is along the river next to the river triangle of Paraguay, Bolivia and Brasil, from where it is possible to walk to Los Tres Gigantes.), ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Part of the Pantanal, which covers Brasil, Bolivia and Paraquay, this park covers 15.000 ha and is admistered by the Asociación Guyra Paraguay. Established in 2008, the station offers three accommodations with space for up to 10 people, a double with sofa and private bathroom, and two quadruples also with private bathroom. Alternative email contact: email@example.com . Activities include hiking, photo safari, flora and fauna observation, taking a break, canoeing, fishing, relaxing. You can even charter a plane and fly over the area, see #By plane. Lodging GS.120,000 pp. Camping GS.50,000 pp. All meals GS.100,000. Generator GS.25,000/hr.
- 3 Reserva Natural del Bosque Mbaracayú (Mbaracayú Forest Nature Reserve), ☏ , , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A privately run reserve, accordingly the prices. Animals: jaguar, tapir, maned wolf, bush dog, neotropical otter, giant armadillo, caiman, and amphibians. numerous types of birds, butterflies and ants. Hiking/tours: Sendero Aguara´i, Sendero Arroyo Moroti, Tiro de fecha con los Ache, Paseo en Canoa, Visita Salto Karapa, Mirador del Patrullero Bruno. Lodging: single GS.250,000, double GS.450,000, triple 600,000, quad 770,000 (full board). Camping: GS.35,000 pp. Hiking/tours: GS.20-75,000. Transport: 150-500,000 per car.
It is said in the region Pedro Juan Caballero is rather unsafe due to its closeness to the Brazilian border. However, perception of such things often seem to be beyond what is the actual truth with people in Paraguay. Nevertheless, be aware. The rest of the region is laid-back.
There is a Paraguayan immigration office in Concepción in case you are coming from Bolivia or heading there. Note, there is no immigration office on the Brazilian along the Río Paraguay, in case you are planning to leave the ferry and head straight into Brazil. Your best bet would be instead to continue until Puerto Suárez (Bolivia) and enter Brazil from there via Corumbá.
- The Chaco is a large, wild, semi-arid plains extending to the east of Concepción.
- Northern Paraneña allows for convenient onward travel into Eastern Bolivia (via Puerto Suárez) and Western Brazil (via Corumbá).