The South American Spot Every Traveler Is Talking About

You’ve heard the mystical lore of Machu Picchu, and by now you’ve at least considered a flight to Rio de Janeiro.

Yes, we all know that South America is near the top of travel bucket lists. But there’s one important place that’s likely not on your radar… yet.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Paraguay.

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Roughly half of this rugged, friendly nation is a wild, forested plain known as Gran Chaco. It’s a glorious sprawl of both wet, verdant savannah and dry, thorny forest, with over 3,000 plant species and more than 800 types of rare birds, mammals and reptiles who welcome brave explorers.

Beyond it, you’ll find a busy capital city and riverfront towns to peruse, with bustling street scenes at every turn. Ruins, rivers and waterfalls just a short jaunt away.

But you’d better get here FAST. Paraguay’s popularity is skyrocketing: Year over recent year, Paraguay welcomes more tourists than ever before, becoming a country’s named by United Nations World Travel Organization as one of the one of the fastest-growing travel destinations last year.

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Paraguay is nestled between Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil. The Iguazu Falls (above) is both stunning and easy to get to. But don’t be fooled: Paraguay has nature in its own right, too. Take a camping trip to the waterfalls of Cerro Cora National Park, or get more cosmopolitan and check out riverfront beach in Encarnación, known for its annual carnival celebrations with colorful parades and parties.

More adventurous types can head to the ruins of a Jesuit mission complex in the Río de la Plata basin, where you’ll see large stone churches dating to the 17th and 18th centuries. Head back to the beach towns afterward for a meat-filled meal you’ll never forget.

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While flights to Paraguay aren’t the cheapest in the world, they won’t shatter your budget. A good round-trip deal costs about $700 from the East Coast of the United States, according to Hopper estimates.

Lodging options are as diverse as the Paraguayan landscape. Stay in a stylish city hotel, colonial garden guesthouse, or backpacker-friendly hostel where everyone is sure to join you in exploring. Local travel experts recommend visiting Paraguay between March and June or in September and October, which makes now a perfect time to plan an exotic autumn trip.

Travelers should be aware that currently, Paraguay is one of the South America nations listed on the CDC’s notices warning against pregnant women traveling to the country due to the Zika virus. The CDC recommends that all travelers to Paraguay and any other countries on the list protect themselves from mosquito bites.

Safe travels!

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2016/04/22/paraguay-travel_n_9772184.html