Destinations

Say hello to the little Guays

Paraguay is landlocked in the heart of South America, while coastal Uruguay, the second smallest country on the continent, lies some distance to the east. The indigenous languages in both countries are Guarani and Spanish, but why the shared guay? Well, guay means all things super, brilliant and terrific in Spanish. Both nations are also barmy about soccer, and we shall bear witness to this during the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Brazil.  

Paraguay

A stopgap between Latin giants Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia, lesser-visited Paraguay is a hidden gem thanks to its isolation. The country has a well-preserved indigenous community and its economy has only really taken off this millennium.  

Believe it or not, Paraguay has a bizarre Australian connection. Back in 1893 dissatisfied Australian communists set sail for the country to create a New Australia. Two thirds of those who defected returned to Australia but their legacy remained; it is estimated around 2000 Paraguayans now have Australian heritage. 

Australians weren’t the only ones to fall in love with the country and the women. Many nationalities chose to settle here after World War II and there are many European enclaves in the nation. Hohenau and Bella Vista, to the south of capital Asuncion are populated by German Mennonites so everything looks, sounds and tastes German. For an even more surreal experience, there is a Korean colony near Bella Vista named Pirapo.  

Its isolation has kept its culture brilliantly preserved, meaning Paraguay is an excellent place to visit if you want to get to know its people. Because it has largely flown below the tourist radar, interactions with locals are authentic and convivial. But if tourist ticks are needed, Asuncion is the historical centre while the Paraguayan access to Iguazu Falls makes for an alternate and atypical way to see this tourist landmark. 

Another benefit of Paraguay’s off-the-grid status are the prices. No-one is going to fleece you for being a foreigner here. There are plenty of well-priced Brazilian steakhouses and be sure to drink terere, Paraguay’s take on the classic South American herbal drink. Don’t be shocked to find snake on the menu either. The skin is used for leather and the meat is cooked on a barbeque. And like the Peruvian preference for guinea pig, snake is more or less a Paraguay-centric delicacy.  

Uruguay

Uruguay was Paraguay a few decades ago, in terms of tourist numbers. But while its tourism credentials have been well publicised, it is not yet flooded with visitors to the same extent as neighbouring Brazil, allowing for some intrepid bragging rights.  

In Uruguay, make time for the beach – an attribute that landlocked but lake-filled Paraguay cannot boast. Lapped by the Atlantic ocean, its coastline is furthered by peninsula formations to the east and west. On the eastern side, the town of Colonia is a short distance to Argentina’s Buenos Aires across the Rio de la Plata.  

Jose Ignacio is the hot coastal town to be seen at. It’s where supermodels and Latin stars come to party, even though it is mostly a sleepy fishing town. If Jose Ignacio is the ultimate barefoot destination, Punta del Este is Uruguay’s version of Monte Carlo. This is where the wealthy flock from Montevideo on weekends. 

Beyond the coast, there are plenty of sightseeing magnets, such as the capital and historic epicentre Montevideo, typified by striking 19th century architecture. Colonia del Sacramento is a UNESCO World Heritage site while Tacuarembo is the place to be for an authentic gaucho cowboy experience, particularly in March for the horsemanship festival called Fiesta de la Patria Gaucha. 

In Uruguay, you eat steak for dinner, without question. The steakhouses (parillas) are world-renowned. Follow your dinner with a relatively light dessert of ice cream and meringue, called chaja. The country’s passion for all things carnivorous is on display at the meat markets, or Mercados, in Montevideo. Be warned, steak is a way of life and you may be expected to eat meat for breakfast and lunch. 

Getting there 

Australia to Paraguay 

LAN Airlines now operates seven one-stop flights each week from Sydney to Santiago, Chile, with onward connections to Asuncion, the gateway to Paraguay. LAN also offers non-stop flights between Sydney and Santiago every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday in a codeshare partnership with Oneworld partner airline Qantas. For more information visit www.lan.com. 

Australia to Uruguay 

LAN Airlines now operates seven one-stop flights each week from Sydney to Santiago, Chile, with onward connections to Montevideo, the gateway to Uruguay. LAN also offers non-stop flights between Sydney and Santiago every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday in a codeshare partnership with Oneworld partner airline Qantas. For more information visit www.lan.com.

"shutterstock_28399228.jpg"

A participant at Patria Caucha, one of Uruguay's largest festivals

"shutterstock_106037669-1.jpg"

The national cathedral in Asuncion, Paraguay

"shutterstock_104462285-1.jpg"

The capybara, the world's largest rodent, is native to South America

"shutterstock_155013953-1.jpg"

Casapueblo, the famed house of Uruguayan artist Carlos Paez Vilaro, located in Punta del Este

Aviation

Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon resigns

Christopher Luxon is stepping down from the top job at Air New Zealand amid reports he’s been called up to represent the All Blacks at the Rugby World Cup.

Share

CommentComments

Events

GET A MOVE ON: only a few tickets left for Women in Travel + UBER offer!

This is your final warning, folks: our Women in Travel Awards are on tomorrow night!

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Boeing CEO admits “mistake” in handling of problematic 737 MAX aircraft

First an apology, now an admission. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has finally owned up to the manufacturer’s handling of the 737 MAX.

Share

CommentComments

Midweek Interview

Midweek interview with Aurora Expeditions’ Vicky Primrose

This week, Travel Weekly tried to coax secrets out of Aurora Expeditions’ global head of marketing over a few wines, but we had a few too many ourselves and forgot them all.

Share

CommentComments

Wholesalers

INCENTIVE ALERT: Excite launches ultimate US shopping guide

The wholesaler has partnered up with Simon Shopping Destinations to bring you every shopaholic’s dream.

Share

CommentComments

Wholesalers

CATO chairman takes aim at “deceptive and misleading” advertising by industry disruptors

Did you happen to miss Dennis Bunnik’s venom-filled address at CATO’s recent AGM? Consider yourself caught up with this.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Aussie family shocked by whopping $30,000 holiday phone bill

Please excuse us while we scream internally for the rest of the day as we process the concept of a $30K phone bill.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

“A kick to the tourism industry”: NSW government slammed over $35m budget cut

Just like the fireworks in the accompanying photo, two prominent industry bodies have gone off about the NSW government’s big funding cut to its tourism agency.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Cruise wrap: Aurora teams up with NASA scientist, P&O’s Big Laugh Comedy fest returns + MORE!

Tired of your colleagues outsmarting you when it comes to the latest cruise brochures and deals? Get the upper hand right here.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

MH370: Report sheds new light on suicide theory and Malaysian cover-up

A detailed report by a veteran journalist has exposed new details about how passengers may have met their end at the hands of a lonely pilot.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

How Air Canada is making its mark on gender equality, locally and globally

With the Women in Travel Awards 2019 just days away, we wanted to shine the light on a company that truly values female representation across the board.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Aviation wrap: Qantas grows US network, Emirates reduces single-use plastics, Air Vanuatu’s new service + more

This week’s aviation wrap comes free of any mentions of flaperons, altimeters or horizontal stabilisers.

Share

CommentComments