Paraguay

Placement at a glance

Age 18yrs + on arrival
Volunteer options Cultural experience and Spanish immersion is the focus. Volunteers can also set up informal after school English classes with local children.
Support Pre-departure help desk, and 24hr emergency support although mobile signals can be intermittent in rural areas. Internet cafes by bus in nearby towns, 40 mins.
Project location Rural locations within 2 hours of capital Asuncion
Accommodation Volunteers stay with host families
Working hours Variable according to individual volunteer's interests.
Language Basic Spanish will be essential to get the most out of your stay. Host families do not speak English.
Getting to project Flight to Asuncion. Or coach from Buenos Aires in Argentina or Rio in Brazil (approx £70).
Minimum stay 1 week. 2 to 3 weeks is recommended.
Project operates 15th July to 5th September.
When to apply As early as possible as places are limited
Costs Stay for free up to 4 weeks & £125 (Registration to join OV which provides a year of volunteering without registering again)
Airport Pick-up Service Available for all volunteers. Allow approx. £40

Accommodation info

  • 5 minutes 5 minutes
  • 10 minutes 10 minutes
  • 20 minutes 20 minutes
  • Bus nearest stop 10 minutes Bus nearest stop 10 minutes
  • Taxi rank 5 minutes Taxi rank 5 minutes
  • Cash machine 20 minutes Cash machine 20 minutes
  • Bank 20 minutes Bank 20 minutes
  • Pay Phone 5 minutes Pay Phone 5 minutes
  • Internet Access 1 hour Internet Access 1 hour
  • Laundry- On-site + small fee Laundry- On-site + small fee

Basics, what to take?

  • Summer weight sleeping bag
  • Adaptor

More info

Accommodation is rustic so bring all you can from home. Although most visitors bring only a sleeping bag and pillow it is a good idea to bring some extras just in case you need them or you would prefer to have your own space. It can also be rather chilly between July and August when the sun goes down so here are our recommendations to make sure you are covered:

Sleeping bag which goes down to minus 10 Celsius.

Blanket

Two tracksuits will be practical as pyjamas, one to wear one drying and you may want to use this during the day too.

Large warm jumper worn with hoodie and puffy jacket over the top.

A small tent with fly sheet.

Thermarest camping mat (foam and air combination to keep you off the cold floor – can be warmer than a camp bed).

Plastic cup with handle, personal utensil set, tin opener, plastic bowl and plastic plate. All other basics can be borrowed from the family or bought in town.

Woolly hat, puffy jacket, gloves, walking boots and trainers.

Small kettle and favourite snacks from home. Nescafe can be bought locally but good tea which does not taste of dust is hard to find so bring all you can from home.

A plastic airtight food container will come in useful for biscuits and bread.

Definitely bring a good dictionary, preferably Latin American Spanish if you can find one, for aiding conversations with the family. A Latin American phrasebook will also be a good idea.

Croc sandals with socks (!) have been recommended by some previous visitors as they keep your feet higher out of the dirt than flip flops, are warm when worn with socks but a break from boots and no need to wait for them to dry.

And after all of the above on the weather, it can still get quite warm during the day so you will still need some warm weather clothes too; shorts, t-shirts and a swimset for the stream.

Meet the project team

paraguay team

Your Paraguayan host family will provide you with all the support you need during your stay. They are used to hosting visitors and helping to gather the children for an after school class if you would like to teach a small group.

Bring a Latin American dictionary and phrasebook to ensure your conversations flow smoothly as there will be many nights spent sitting around the fire chatting.

The Indian language of Guarani is also widely spoken outside of the capital although you will have no problem getting by in basic Spanish.

Placement map

Call us today on 01603 280702

Image gallery

Volunteer in Paraguay

Get off the beaten track in South America, with a variety of projects and activities to involve yourself in during the week; you will never be lost for something to do when volunteering in the quirky country of Paraguay.

What’s included

Accommodation with a local host family is provided for all participating volunteers. An airport pick up from Asuncion airport will be provided straight to your host family. Transfer time is approximately 2.5 hours.

The main role of the volunteer is to engage in a cultural exchange, learning from your host family, spending time, practising your Spanish and tending to livestock and the crops, engaging with the wider community and their fading traditions and offering an insight into your culture with some fresh ideas for your new home. If you would like to spend some time teaching local children it need not be formal as there can be little entertainment in rural communities; Connect 4, UNO, traditional card games or teach the months of the year or counting; it couldn’t be easier.

With very few tourists, be one of the few people to not only visit Paraguay but get to know its hidden customs and unique culture. There is no pressure here, volunteer at your own pace with a friendly family.

Skills and experience, You do not need any experience to help in Paraguay. As long as you are able to give compassion and interest to your host family and the community you are working with and speak some Spanish, you will be fine. 

We consider this project ideal if you…

  • Want an insight into the unique Paraguayan culture in a tourist-free location off-the-backpacker-trail.
  • Are an independent or experienced traveller with a pro-active approach to volunteering.
  • Really want to submerse yourself in an unfamiliar back to basics culture
  • Are thinking of combining this project with our Argentina project (24 hours by coach, approx. £70), or Peru (flight to Cuzco or 3-4 days overland on the backpacking route via Bolivia)

Free time

Only 4 hours away via coach, volunteers can easily take a weekend to visit the mighty Iguassu Falls in Foz. Buy a ticket in advance from the bus terminal in Asuncion. To the south, the most popular place to visit is the Jesuit ruins. It is easy to book a tour here via the local tourist office in Calle Palma in the centre of Asuncion after arrival.

Paraguay-5-Encarncn.-nda-haei-ov2

Explore Encarnacion on the Argentinian border.

 

Encarnacion trip

Price £50

Make a weekend trip to the South’s capital Encarnacion, a pleasant relaxed city on the border with Argentina. The main square is a pleasant place to relax and watch the world go by.

There are some beaches along the river with a new boardwalk to walk along and a large natural reserve.

Allow £50 for a weekend for bus and budget hotel.


Paraguay-0-asaditos2

Called Asado or Asadito, barbeques are the best in Paraguay!

 

Eat some 'Asaditos'

Price 50 pence

The classic affordable tasty street food of Paraguay. You will often see people gathering around stalls from 6 p.m.

Ask for a special sauce called ‘chimichurri’ a mix of tomotoes, onions and pepper.

Every street vendor has their specialty and are often open all night until 3 or 4 in the morning.


Paraguay-5-IFalls-nda-haei-ov2

At the mighty Iguassu Falls on the border.

 

Iguassu Falls trip

Price £100

Allow two days as there are two sides of the Falls to visit on the Argentinian and Brazilian sides. It really is a wonder of the world in a spectacular tropical setting. The Robert de Niro film The Mission was filmed here. Foz where there are more facilities and it’s cheaper.

Allow £100 for a complete weekend, coach from Asuncion and entrances.


paraguay-nda-haei-ov-horse-ridingB

Get off the track riding at Aregua.

 

Aregua horse riding

Price £5

If you are in Asuncion or on your way to Caacupe, Aregua makes a pleasant stop over. A small sleepy place it had quite a different feel to Asuncion.

Hire a boat on to the lake, buy some colourful handicrafts and enjoy a nice meal in one of the many pizzerias in old fashioned houses.

Horse riding £5, leaving 9:00 a.m. from Finca Cazuela


Highlights

Genuine cultural submersion
Bringing new much needed ideas and energy.
A unique visit to a unique country

tab-paraguay03

The Basilica in the town Caacupe, the country’s religious centre.

Volunteers prepare for tomorrows lessons.

 

Food

Your host family will often offer to provide meals but unfamiliar food and the family’s budget might restrict this. A reasonable donation if you are provided with meals all week would be £2 a day. The families will be happy equally if you make your own arrangements, buying in town and cooking on their stove or open fire. If eating on a trip to the local town, it is very affordable. A basic meal in a local café can cost £1.

Accommodation

Accommodation is provided by local families and will be considered rustic at best. An extra warm sleeping bag, blanket and pillow are essential for visits between July and August when the temperature can drop close to zero in the rural valleys.

Getting around

Buses are the main form of transport in Paraguay between towns. Host families are all on bus routes (usually twice a day) into a local town which has connecting buses to the capital Asuncion. A trip into the local town will cost approximately 70p each way.

Health

There is a local town approximately 40 minutes away with a hospital should you need the use of one, the family will help you with your transfer there if required.

What to take

Once you have applied and registered with Original Volunteers, a list of items to take will be sent.

When to pay for this project

There is no extra to pay us before travel for Paraguay if you are registered and we have confirmed your place. The only costs are on-going living costs during your stay.

Things that you will need to organise yourself

  • Flights to Asuncion
  • For overland travellers, pick-up from bus station is not available. Easy to follow instructions that direct you to the meeting point are provided before arrival
  • Travel Insurance
  • Any resources you wish to bring
  • Food

Fast facts – Project information

Project Duration: Min 1 week – Max 4 weeks

Project Costs: Free accommodation provided

Location of project: Host families in rural locations between the towns of Caacupe, Pirebebuy, Paraguari and Yaguaron.

Arrival Airport: Asuncion

Activities: Cultural immersion experience. Opportunities to teach locally and set up own projects.

Working Hours: Variable depending on personal preferences. Weekends free.
Getting to the project: Airport pick-up and transfer to your host family is automatically arranged for all volunteers once flights have been received.
Requirements: Minimum age 18

On arrival

The nearest airport to the project is Asuncion. Once you arrive at Asuncion airport, there will be a local driver waiting to pick you up and take you to your host family. For volunteers arriving by bus from Argentina or Brazil, directions are provided before arrival.

A friendly family awaits.

The local children love face painting.

 

Local support

Your host family are always on hand and available when needed.

Project resources and advice

Any extra resources that volunteers wish to bring are welcomed and appreciated from activity books, colouring books to basic education books, any arts and crafts materials and games.

Not on your own

Although some volunteers travel with friends, the bigger majority travel alone. It is possible to get in contact with other volunteers before your travel, and a lot of people tend to do this. Some volunteers even plan to travel together and set this up themselves before they depart.

Local facilities

Large modern supermarket, cafés, internet can be found in all the local towns. Shopping centres, cafés, bars, restaurants, shops and banks are available in the centre of Asuncion and are all easy to reach by bus, which pass frequently to the capital from local towns.

Local children play with puppets volunteers have donated.

With one of the children.


 What happens after you have booked?

  • As soon as you have booked you will receive a welcome email confirming your booking and explaining in more detail how to get organised for you trip

Paraguay at a glance

Paraguay is a landlocked country in the heart of South America.

Argentina borders Paraguay to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast and Bolivia borders it to the northwest. It is a country of fascinating contrasts and boasts exotic natural reserves and massive man-made dams. The capital and largest city in Paraguay is Asuncion, where much of the historical section, with its charming colonial buildings and plazas, are near the river and easily walkable. Between 1904 and 1954, Paraguay had thirty-one presidents. For a glimpse into Paraguayan history watch the 1986 historical film The Mission starring Jeremy Irons and Robert De Niro.

Paraguay is one of South America’s least densely populated countries and in 2009 the population was estimated at 6.3 million with around 60% living in poverty. Paraguay’s economy revolves around agriculture and the official language is Spanish.

Please note: A police check/CRB is required to access this programme. If you do not hold a recent CRB, advice on obtaining a police check is provided upon application.

Climate

In Paraguay, the summer months are from November to March and temperatures typically reach 30 Degrees Celsius.  The winter is from June to September, although temperatures can still reach 25 Degrees Celsius, the temperature can drop at night close to zero so bring a super warm sleeping bag and warm clothes for night time.

Time difference to the UK: -5hrs

Paraguay specific questions

Do I need any experience?
Not at all. Volunteers, or more accurately put, cultural exchange visitors, are needed to simply live with the family, acknowledge their rural way of life and get involved alongside local people whether helping with livestock, mending a fence, collecting firewood or teaching a class to local children after school.

Will I be met on arrival?
All volunteers are met at the airport in Asuncion on arrival. This is the easiest way to arrive as independent travel on public transport can be lengthy involving two or three changes and the last bus might not be running if you arrive after 9 in the morning.

Where will I be staying?
Most volunteers stay their host families in basic accommodation between the small provincial towns of Pirebebuy, Caacupe and Paraguari.
Are visas required for Paraguay?
Visas are not required for UK/European passport holders on short visits. An entry date will simply be stamped in your passport.

What are the start dates?
There are no start dates but Monday or Tuesday is recommended so you can get over your journey and make friends with your host family before your first weekend when everyday family routines might change.

Can I stay with my friend?
All volunteers arriving with friends or other volunteers are placed together with the same family. However, we do recommend to get the most out of your stay that you choose a different routine to your friend on a few days of the week to create a personal experience that is unique to you, enables the family to get to you know you better and provides greater opportunity and incentive to improve your Spanish.

I am worried about travelling on my own – can I buddy up with someone?
On this programme there is a high chance that you may be the only volunteer as places are limited. If you would like to volunteer on a cultural immersion program amongst a larger volunteer community then our Kenya Masai cultural experience might be an ideal alternative.

Will I need any jabs?
We advise all volunteers to consult a trained travel health nurse a few weeks before travel for up to date advice as you may require some boosters (Taken from the nhs website fitfortravel 17/08/14). Cholera is not required.

Do I need to bring anything for the children?
Winter coats are always in demand between July and August when the temperature drops. Most children only have jumpers to wear and it can get more than a bit chilly up in the hills, cheap puff jackets and woolly hats would be great for 4 to 11 year olds.

Should I bring anything for me?
The ground is grassy and can get muddy after rain so walking boots are the best footwear. Socks can take longer to dry in the winter too so bring plenty! Here are some more ideas to make your stay more comfortable: A super warm sleeping bag (that can cope with minus 5 – 10. Days of 17 – 20 Celsius during the day can be followed by nights of zero. A fleece liner/extra blanket. Basic camping gear from plastic bowl, mug, utensils, plastic container for food/snack storage, favourite packet sauces, travel kettle. Warm clothes and layers are essential as it can take some time to get used to outdoor living if you have arrived after warm summer weather at home. Some volunteers have previously taken their own small tents and a thermal thermarest camping mat whilst others have preferred to stay in a spare room or a hut, the voice is yours, although camping equipment can be hard to find in the capital and may be overpriced compared to what you can get at home.

How can I keep in touch with home?
Signal is quite poor so although always essential to bring an unlocked phone from home and buy a sim card on arrival, you may have to get closer to the town to be able to get messages form home. Internet cafes in all local towns and buses go in at least once a day, usually between 06:30 and 08:00 and often again between 12:00 and 13:30 although if you take a midday bus you will need to get a taxi back as the last bus from most valleys at midday do not make a return journey.


Contact us for specific questions

We are always happy to answer any questions you may have. We pride ourselves in the vast knowledge of our projects and are always willing to share. Pop us an email [email protected] to get the answers you need!

Latest reviews

Average Review Rating: from 2 reviews.

Vero Musitano – Review

I spent 4 weeks in Paraguay living with the family and overall I would say it was a life changing experience. It made me stronger as a person and more able to handle things on my own. The family were wonderfully friendly, far more than I had expected and went out of their way to help me. They even offered me their o...

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Jules Bradford – Review

I arrived in Paraguay after two months travelling around Bolivia, Argentina and Peru and staying in hostels. I chose the project because I wanted to stay in one place and soak up the local life. It was also a more affordable option to live with a family than in a hotel and easier to meet local people. During my stay...

Read More

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