2019: Kayaking Paraguay's Río Aquidabán
A week alone on a river in Paraguay. We took our own inflatable kayak, hitchhiked to a put-in I had found on Google Maps satellite view, and floated/paddled the river all the way to Concepción. We saw caiman, monkeys, toucans, a king vulture, and lots of fire ants.
The river is entirely free of rapids, but flows at a decent clip. The bigger challenges are navigating around logs, and having to walk in the ankle deep sections where it's too shallow to paddle. The river is filled with caimans and other dangerous creatures, and immersing any part of your body is somewhat risky.
When we went, in February, the austral summer was in full effect. The heat was incredible. From 10-4pm everyday, we hid in the shade of trees on the river's beaches, draping wet blankets on ourselves as we waited for evening.
The temperature was still high at sunset. We tried sleeping outside, but small gnats kept us up, and we saw several snakes and caimans on the beach that first night. We slept in a tent from then on.
We also were fortunate to spot a king vulture, among other birds, and saw a 5+ meter snake swimming across the mile-wide Rio Paraguay, just feet from our kayak.
For whatever reason, Paraguay is rumored to be a dangerous country. It's not. It's probably one of the safest countries in Latin America. We met various fishermen on the river, and several eager children, and enjoyed trading stories with the locals. I can't imagine many foreigners come to this tiny river.
The deforestation across Paraguay is heartbreaking. From the river we were able to see slash-and-burn style deforestation occurring by sketchy men in t-shirts and baseball caps. Indeed, satellite images show that much of Paraguay, including the area around this river, have been ruined.
Many Paraguayans we met told us the deforestation means farms, which mean money. Yet the country, which is rich in resources, remains poor. This river, rich in wildlife and with an intrinsic right to exist, is rapidly being altered by the greed of man.