Landlocked Paraguay divides into lush, well-watered rolling grasslands with most of the country’s human agrarian population to the east of the Rio Paraguay and, on the western 60 percent, the vast, arid, inhospitable Gran Chaco which has been called one of South America’s great wildernesses. In the Chaco are most of Paraguay’s wildlife, including rare hyacinth macaws, caimans, and giant anacondas. There are three large national parks, outstandingly the Defensores del Chaco.
Defensores’ dense thorn forest and wooded alluvial plains protect Paraguay’s most endangered animals—big cats such as jaguars, pumas, and ocelots; smaller, rare Geoffroy’s cats; Chacoan peccaries once thought extinct; giant anteaters; maned wolves; Brazilian tapirs; among birds, jabiru and wood storks, spectacular parrots, and bright tropical songbirds.
Defensores is 515 miles (830 km) northwest of Asunción over roads often impassable to all but 4WD vehicles. Trips sometimes can be arranged with park rangers. Fundación Moisés Bertoni (FMB), a private group, has set up a number of Private Nature Reserves (PNRs) with sympathetic ranchers, with whom visits sometimes can be arranged. Best times are September–November, the austral spring.
Another reserve of great interest is the Natural Forest Reserve Mbaracayu, which harbors jaguars and tapirs as well as a splendid variety of birdlife.
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as well as...
Defensores del Chaco National Park
Natural Forest Reserve Mbaracayu
More about the Reserves in Paraguay
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