Paraguay The Chaco
The semi-arid wilderness of the Chaco is rich in wildlife and a great destination for birdwatchers.
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 live 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.
Holidays The Chaco
From expertly designed Private Journeys to trail-blazing Group Tours, browse our range of carefully crafted holidays.
Paraguay / Argentina / Iguazu Falls
Signature Paraguay: The Missions and the Chaco
12 days from £3,630pp
Where to go when - our guide to The Chaco
The weather in The Chaco is wide and varied
Similar to the Brazilian Pantanal, the Chaco region is rich in wildlife and a great destination for birdwatchers. For those of an adventurous nature, the land is flat, thorny and sweltering and for centuries nobody lived here. Completely undeveloped for tourism, you will stay in Filadelfia or Loma Plata and drive to the best wildlife spotting locations. The best time to visit is June – September when temperatures are cooler and more comfortable.View our The Chaco weather guide
Your edit for Latin American inspiration
Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.View Extraordinary Inspiration
Real Latin America Experts
Millie Davies - Travel Expert
Having caught the travel bug as a child, Millie has travelled all over Latin America before making her home in Buenos Aires for 3 years.
Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Expert
After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.
Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Expert
Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours sales team.
Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Expert
Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.
Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Expert
Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tour sales team.
Sophie Barber - Travel Expert
Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia and beyond to Antarctica.