Where to Go Hiking in Paraguay

Salto Suiza

Jan-Schneckenhaus / Getty Images

Full of waterfalls, supersized animals, and 700 species of birds, Paraguay offers an abundance of biodiversity, best enjoyed by hiking. Though known for being flat, hot, and humid, the country has several sierras—some with peaks over 2,000 feet—as well as cooler forest paths, such as Salto Suizo. Choose from routes within the country’s 15 national parks, including Parque Nacional Cerro Corá, or explore paths on privately owned land, like the loop trail at Estación Puerto Olivares. Many of these routes have campgrounds nearby, while others, like Cerro Verá, offer wild camping. Some of the country's trails, especially those in the Chaco, will have little traffic.

Regardless of which trails you choose, always take sunscreen, bug repellent, and lots of water. If you are going to the national parks, check in with SEAM (Secretaría de Ambiente) in Asunción for any permits you might need.

01 of 08

Cerro Tres Kandú

Aerial view from the observation deck at Cerro Pero in Paraguay
Jan-Schneckenhaus / Getty Images
Address
Cerro Peró, Paraguay

Cerro Tres Kandú towers 2,762 feet (842 meters) above the town of General Eugenio A. Garay, enticing those who want to scale Paraguay's highest peak. Also known as “Cerro Peró,” hikers trudge to the top via its 3.4-mile out-and-back trail. Mostly cut through forests, the trail offers plenty of shade and two viewpoints to admire the surrounding fields. It takes approximately one and a half hours to reach the top, with the first 30 minutes being an easy walk on a rolling path. After that, the trail gets increasingly harder; in some sections, hikers have to scramble over rough terrain using installed ropes and walk along wooden ledges.

Though rated as difficult, the trail is a popular weekend activity and can get crowded with local hikers. Camping is available near the trailhead (for the equivalent of $10 a night) and recommended if you want to get an early start. Note that there’s a small fee to go up the hill, which is collected by an attendant near the trailhead.

02 of 08

Salto Suizo

View at Salto Suiza

Courtesy of Salto Suiza Parque Ecológico

Address
C. Bruno Boeni, Independencia 5350, Paraguay
Phone +595 981 113833

Salto Suizo is a 196-foot-tall waterfall surrounded by natural pools and the hills of the Ybytyruzú Cordillera. You can reach the national reserve by hiking a 7.4-mile route, which begins in the nearby town of Melgarejo. The route winds over streams and huge stones, with lianas vines and pencil-thin tacuaras stretching overhead. The dirt path takes about an hour to hike to the base of the waterfall, where a tiny adventure park offers rappelling. Watch out for slippery moss sections, and continue past the falls for about half a mile to Cerro de la Cruz for panoramic views. Afterwards, go for a swim in the pool below the falls, then camp for the night underneath the waterfall itself. Should you want more luxury, at the top of the stairs by the waterfall, a glamping site offers stays in giant wine barrels outfitted with large beds.

03 of 08

Parque Nacional Ybycuí

Blue butterfly. Blue Morpho, Morpho peleides, big butterfly sitting on green leaves. Beautiful insect in the nature habitat, wildlife scene. Use wide angle lens with forest, Paraguay, South America.
Ondrej Prosicky / Getty Images
Address
W525+QF8, Minas Kue, Paraguay
Phone +595 981 692675

Take the trail at the entrance of Parque Nacional Ybycuí to see rainbows of multicolored butterflies amidst waterfalls tumbling into the Atlantic forest. The 1.8-mile out-and-back trail also offers birding opportunities, with trogons, tityras, and tanagers roosting along the path. You can venture further to see all 15 waterfalls, but expect steep gradients and apply plenty of bug repellant. You can swim in the natural pools or have a barbecue afterwards, just make sure to bring your own meals as options for purchasing food in the park are limited. Camping within the park, exploring the old iron foundry, and spotting wild coati are a few of Ybycuí's other highlights.

Located only 77 miles (124 kilometers) south of Asunción, Ybycuí is one of the most accessible and frequently visited national parks of Paraguay. For this reason, it’s best to go on weekdays to avoid the crowds.

04 of 08

Cerro León

The jabiru or Tuiuiu
LucasAmorelli / Getty Images
Address
Cerro Leon, Paraguay

Go deep into the Chaco to hike the second highest peak in Paraguay: Cerro León. The surrounding Parque Nacional Defensores del Chaco covers 780,000 hectares, making it Paraguay's largest national park. Jabirus (6-foot-tall storks), ocelots, and jaguars roam its landscape. Cerro León rises above the dry, rocky land, dotted with cacti and dense forests, to a height of nearly 2,000 feet. Three dirt trails—3.1, 1.5, and 1.2 miles in length—offer a chance to visit a lagoon and see aerial views of the park. You can camp and barbecue here, but pack your food.

Located off the Transchaco Highway, 130 miles from the town of Filadelfia, entry to the park is only accessible with a 4x4. Permits are necessary for coming here and can be obtained by contacting SEAM. Alternatively, organize your trip through a travel agency like Gran Chaco Turismo in Filadelfia.

Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08

Estación Puerto Olivares

Trail at Estacion Puerto Olivares

Courtesy of Estacion Puerto Olivares

Address
2PM4+5PG, Acevedo, Paraguay
Phone +595 985 591221

The nearly 3-mile loop trail on the grounds of Estación Puerto Olivares takes hikers through a eucalyptus forest to a 160-year-old oratory built by Paraguay’s first president. Afterwards, it runs along the beach of the Manduvirá River and passes by a tiny kayaking port, where flamingos fly overhead. Easy and mostly flat, the hike has a few rocky bits and is well-shaded part of the time. Howler monkeys, tiny owls, and many other varieties of birds can be spotted along the trail.

A family-run rustic resort, Estación Puerto Olivares is located a few miles away from Emboscada, off of Route 3 (about two hours north of Asunción). Stay on the campgrounds or inside the onsite railroad museum for the night, and paddle out in a kayak at sunset for the serenading sounds of the river basin’s animal choir.

06 of 08

Cerro Akatí

Cerro Ataki

Courtesy of Visit Paraguay

Address
5PHG+322, Cerro Cora, Paraguay

To reach the top of Cerro Akatí, hike the 9-mile dirt road there from Melgarejo; alternatively, you can drive most of the way in a 4x4, then hike the remaining 1.2 miles to the top. This moderate hike is fairly flat, except for the last part which has a steep gradient and rocky sections. The trail features two viewpoints: a bench at the top overlooking the Villarrica Valley and a wooden swing within the forest. You may see a Catholic priest in full ceremonial garb blessing the hill at the mirador (viewing point). Check out the branch of the trail to the cave with the Itá Letra (pre-Columbian writings chiseled into stone walls), and bring your hammock to string up at the top for a midday snooze or Tereré (iced yerbe mate tea) break.

To stay the night, book a campsite or room in the cabanas at the base of the hill. The entry fee for the hike costs the equivalent of about $3.

07 of 08

Parque Nacional Cerro Corrá

Small anteater (Tamandua tetradactyla) defending itself, Gran Chaco, Paraguay
Thomas Vinke / Getty Images
Address
5, Paraguay

Parque Nacional Cerro Corá stretches across 22,000 hectares in the Amambay Mountains. Free and frequently visited, the park offers several hiking trails to Cerro Corá, Cerro Muralla, and Gasorý Eco-Archaeological Reserve. See the pre-Columbian petroglyphs written on the limestone walls of Cerro Akuá and Cerro Lorito, and watch for the national bird, the pájaro campana, flitting among rare clover trees. Crab-eating foxes, deer, and giant anteaters scamper through the park's forests. On the beach of the Aquidabán River, a cross marks the site where Paraguayan leader Francisco Solano López died during the last battle of the War of the Triple Alliance; a small museum nearby contains artifacts from the war.

Unlike other national parks, Cerro Corá does not require a permit from SEAM to camp or hike. It’s easily reachable via a 45-minute bus from Concepción, Chile, and staffed by a small group of rangers who can also act as guides.

08 of 08

Cerro Verá

Wild camping on top of Cerro Vera

Courtesy of Insta_paraguay

Address
Cerro Vera, Paraguay

This tabletop hill stands 1,141 feet tall between the towns of Acahay and La Colmena. Located just off kilometer 123 on the 14 de Mayo Highway, the out-and-back trail from the main road to the top is a moderate 2.5-mile trail. The route runs along red dirt roads as well as fields dotted with palm trees, streams, and rocky ridges. Bring your own gear to rappel down the 130-foot-tall rock face from the top to take in unobstructed views of the Ybycuí Sierra and surrounding valleys. Though not many animals live here, you might see an occasional vulture, as there's a nesting site on top of the hill.

If you camp for the night, be sure to bring your own water and food, and be aware that there's no phone signal at the top. Cerro Verá offers free access to hikers—the family who owns it does not charge. After entering the gate at the base of the mountain, make sure to close the gate, otherwise the family's cows will try to escape.

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Where to Go Hiking in Paraguay