Once you cross from San Pedro north into Amambay, the flat scenery gives way to the bizarre looking rock formations that make up the Cordillera Amambay. The combination of strangely shaped reddish sandstone formations jutting out amongst lush green tropical vegetation give the Amambay department one of Paraguay’s most unique landscapes. The department is home to the Parque Nacional Cerro Cora and a unique natural water formation known as Ojo de Mar. Many caves in the area have petro glyphs which bear witness to the area’s original indigenous inhabitants. There are also unsubstantiated rumors that the inscriptions were made by Viking explorers. Stranger things have happened in Amambay.
Pedro Juan Caballero
Active commerce with neighboring Brazil gives this town a surprisingly modern feel with several commercial buildings and wide roads paved with cement bricks known as adoquzn. Most of the town’s larger businesses line the Avenida Internacional (also named Avenida Dr. Francia) which separates Pedro Juan from the Brazilian city of Ponta Pora. As the major border town in the province of Amambay, known for drug trafficking, caution should be taken in Pedro Juan, especially at night. During the daytime, the city is calm but it is best to respect the informal nighttime curfew and steer clear of any potential trouble.
Tour operators and tourists often choose to access the Pantanal by crossing over the border in Pedro Juan Caballero and taking advantage of Brazil’s superior highway system to get to Porto Murtinho on the banks of the Paraguay river. Buses to popular tourist destinations within Brazil such as Porto Murtinho and Bonito leave regularly from the bus terminal in Ponta Pora.
Sidebar: Pedro Juan Caballero is nicknamed la terraza delpas (the country’s terrace).
Laguna Punta Pora
It is around this small lake that the city’s first inhabitants lived. The plaza surrounding the lake includes a monument in honor of the settlers as well as a traditional wooden wagon. Visitors can enjoy the park’s tranquil atmosphere and paddle around the lake in paddle boats. The park is located between the streets of Mariscal Lopez, Natalicio Talavera, Alberdi and Julia Miranda Cueto Estigarribia.
Each November the city’s streets are flooded with motorcycle enthusiasts who come to participate in the motorcycle convention hosted in Ponta Pora. The event regularly draws more than 10,000 participants and fill both cities’ hotels.
Pizza’s House A large, modern pizzeria whose back section opens out on to the Laguna Ponta Pora park. A pizza, beer tower and view of the park make for a relaxed evening in Pedro Juan. Tel: 0336 2 73 497, corner of Mariscal Lopez and Jose Martinez, daily 6pm-11:30pm, Gs.
Shopping China Importados This massive big box store is a good place to stock up on items that are hard to find in Paraguay. You can find everything from food to electronics and beauty
products. The food court has several options including Quattro D gelato and a Burger King. Tel: 0336 743 433, Route 5 and Callejon Internacional (at the intersection between Route 5 and the border), www.shoppingchina.com.br, Mon-Sun 8am-7pm, Gs. 10,000-20,000
Supermercado Stock The Stock supermarket food court is a cheap and dependable option with a per-kilo buffet. Tel: 0336 73026, 033674145, corner of Teniente Herreros and Iturbe (across from Plaza Teniente Valdez), www.stock.com.py, daily 8am-8:30pm, Gs. 10,000-