The clock in the centre of the road told it was 4:30pm. When it flicked over to show the temperature, it told me it was 38 degrees. We were in for a hot few days in the small port city of Concepcion.
Finding a hotel here was going to be fairly straight forward. Only four appeared on maps.me and none were available or even listed on Hostelz.com or Booking.com. Luckily, we had a recommendation for Hotel Victoria and while she’s nothing fancy to look at, she offers spacious, clean rooms with air con, TV, and an in-room fridge (120,000 Gurani). We hadn’t had one of those since Las Vegas!!
The bad news was, we arrived late on a Saturday and while we had planned to only stay 2 nights, we discovered Sunday is everybody’s day off. So we had a day off too. Well we drank some beer but, that’s pretty much it.
Come Monday however, it was business as usual and after breakfast we went in search of Concepcion’s museums.
Ex Cuartel de la Villa Real
A small exhibition of historical items mostly military related. The highlight was an old map depicting Paraguay’s territories before the war with Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina.
An even small display with religious artefacts.
Casa de Cultura
On arrival, go upstairs to the library to get a key. The museum is out the back in the courtyard. On the first and third levels there are displays of historical items. The second floor is used as a school for music.
Personally, I believe if all three museums combined their caches and provided more in depth descriptions of the items displayed, they could offer a better explanation of the region’s history and the culture in Paraguay. But, given its unlikely to happen, just have to deal with visiting three.
Other than the ruins of a small Jesuit reduction 21 km from town, there was little else to see in Concepcion so, in the afternoon of our last day we decided to hire a boat with quite possibly the only other tourist in town and visit one of the islands on the river.
The island we visited was quite literally straight across from the port. For 3,000 Gurani a person, each-way, the captain will ferry you across to Isla Chico. Now don't get too excited, you can wander the island spotting birds, donkeys, goats, people perhaps. There is a small church on the island but it was closed during our visit and then all that is left is swimming.
The beach is downriver from the town which had us a little worried but from what we could see, the water was actually clean and super refreshing. We only went up to our knees (I was concerned about piranhas...) but, a German we'd adopted for the afternoon went all in. We even made friends with a cute puppy who just came over and started loving us. We didn't even have food!
Then it was back to the mainland for a cold beer or three (maybe 4, they're only 50c each).
Concepcion was a completely different experience to Filadelfia. Perhaps it's the German influence but, other than dust, Filadelfia was a very clean town. Concepcion on the other hand, is dirty and run down but, still somehow beautiful through her decades of decay.
La Santaniana Bus Company has daily buses to Asuncion at 7am, 9am, and 11:30am for 80,000 Gurani.
Nasa Golondrina has daily buses to Filadelfia.
Aquidaban (+595 331 242 435) is a cargo ship with limited cabins leaving every Tuesday at 11am to Bahia Negra in the Pantanal, arriving on Friday. Tickets are 110,000 Gurani, cabins are an extra 100,000 or take a hammock. It’s recommended you take your own food and water also.
Cacique II is another cargo ship leaving Concepcion every Sunday between 6am – 7am, arriving in Asuncion 22 hours later. Tickets cost 55,000 Gurani.
To experience rural life in Paraguay, it is possible to do a farm stay at El Roble where you are invited to relax or participate, it’s entirely up to the guest. The price was outside of our budget at 150,000 per person (includes full board) so, we chose to stay in town but, they also offer tours. Horse riding is 100,000 Gurani for 2 hours and a Full Day tour to Tagatya is 1,000,000 Gurani. More information is available at www.paraguay.ch.
If you choose to go upriver to Bahia Negra, there is another farm stay opportunity available at Estacion Tres Gigantes. Accommodation starts at 120,000 Gurani and they offer guests the opportunity to fish, relax, observe flora and fauna, and explore the Pantanal region in Paraguay. Due to time constraints, we weren’t able to get the river to stay here but it looks amazing. For more information, email; firstname.lastname@example.org.
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