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Paraguay: The Chaco

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The Paraguayan Chaco is likened to the Brazilian Pantanal because it is rich in wildlife and a great destination for birdwatchers. The regions have a lot of species in common. However these are different ecosystems: much of the Chaco is semi-arid: although it does rain it does not flood seasonally like the Pantanal.

The Chaco really is an adventure destination, rewarding for those who are seeking out wilderness places in an increasingly developed and accessible world.  It’s for those who would actually be enticed by the regions’ nickname, the ‘Green Inferno’ – the land is flat, thorny and sweltering, though it does support vast cattle ranches in the zone of humid savannahs.

For centuries, no one lived there except a few hardy indigenous tribes and neither Paraguay nor its neighbour Bolivia cared in whose territory it fell: this changed when the possibility of (as yet unmined) oil reared its head and a bitter war took place in 1932-5. The population is tiny, swelled only by the existence of Mennonite colonies.  Members of this European Christian pacifist sect prefer to life apart from other cultures and their towns, such as remote Filadelfia, have striking blond inhabitants who still speak a kind of High German. A visit to their settlements is most intriguing.

Travel to the Chaco to observe cacti the size of houses in what is really a beautiful if melancholy landscape, seeking out wildlife such as caiman, lowland tapir, giant anteater, armadillo and Chacoan peccary. It's an exciting destination for birders: Birds include eagles, rheas, tinamous, black-bodied woodpeckers and woodcreepers. The saltpans and swamps attract a large number of waterfowl.

Unlike the Pantanal, the Chaco is totally undeveloped for tourism: there are no upscale lodges, you stay in Filadelfia or Loma Plata and drive to the best spotting locations. 

Our holidays to The Chaco

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Jesuit Route - Trinidad

Signature Paraguay: The Missions and the Chaco

Private journey

12 days from £3,651pp

Things to do in The Chaco


Spot birds and wildlife in the Chaco


Visit the Mennonite colonies

Our insider tips for The Chaco


David Nichols

Travel here still feels off the map, unpackaged and you are there for the experience of the journey itself in one of South America’s least explored wildernesses.  
Etienne Frans

Etienne Frans

You can have a rewarding taste of the Paraguayan Chaco in as little as 3 days. For diehard adventurers, longer trips take you much deeper into the wilderness, including to the incredibly remote Cerro Leon and Defensores del Chaco National Park, where you have to camp wild.


Chris Rendell-Dunn

The Chaco is a fascinating destination for birders, as is Paraguay as a whole: there are 695 recorded species in the country, or which 500 reside in the Chaco.

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