June 7, 2009

Yacyreta Reserve and Refuge

Today (Sunday) we are at the National Convention for Paraguay. I'm used to saying State Convention and International Assembly, so it's still difficult for me to get that phrase out correctly. I'll tell you about how the Convention went later, but for now, let's continue the story of our little trip to Encarnacion.

We got up the morning after our jaunt into Argentina, ready to make our way back. We rode through several towns with museums for the Jesuit reductions (read about that famous piece of Paraguayan history here) and decided we'd come back one day and look at the larger ruins. This day, we wanted to hang around the southern border, seeing the nature preserve built to house the animals displaced from building the Yacyreta Dam.

We had no idea that this would entail over 40 km of dirt/rock roads. My poor mother in that back seat! At least the front seats of our SUV have a type of shock system, which allows them to bounce. I guess I should have stopped and insisted she get in the front, but I was too busy holding on for dear life. This is the type of driving Ken's dreams are made of, so it was like a rally race for him. Dodging mudholes, large rocks, and ruts, we bopped along at breakneck speed for what seemed like a whole morning, but was actually less than one hour. We never saw any wildlife in the preserve except the birds, which were plentiful. Oh, wait--maybe the blur in that passing tree was a monkey. SLOW DOWN!

We knew we were almost done when we saw cattle, because this signified someone's house was nearby. Near the end of the rough road, we found where the animals were kept. I'd misread the blurb about the animal park and thought they were running wild along the side of the dirt road. So why the long road? I guess they want you to appreciate the animals by the time you arrive.

We zipped in the front gate quickly because a whole lot of ostriches (emus?) were running wild in the place, and we sure didn't want to be party to an escape. The owner of the place took us on a tour, and we were totally impressed. Our friend Eric has made me more sensitive to the sadness of animals in cages, but I was uplifted a bit when the guide explained that this was his life's work. He's been laboring the past 20 years to ensure that these animals aren't made extinct from the encroachments in their habitats and the hunting. I didn't mention to him when we looked at the deer, that Ken has been itching to put one in our freezer.

The "zoo" was remarkably clean, well-kept, and looked right comfortable for the animals. The owner proudly told of how they'd been breeding many of the animals to keep their species alive. Several were just running wild within the hundreds of acres of beautiful wooded and grassy land. We saw HUGE anteaters (called a bear of ants), pumas, leopards/jaguars, tons of birds, wild pigs, and much more. This free park is definitely something I'd recommend if you're in the area. Pictures below...


  1. Those pictures mostly make me hungry. don't tell the man who keeps them, tho!

  2. Hey, send that anteater home with nana...I could really use the savings on not having to buy products to get rid of the usual fireant invasion during the summer.

    I probably could rent him out to other people for his keep! On second thought, after your ant invasion you had last week, you need all the anteaters you can get.

  3. Sounds like you guys are having a great time! That is wonderful. What does your mom think about Paraguay??


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