Rio knows how to do Carnival the best, but the small town of Encarnacion, Paraguay, has nothing to envy. According to the locals, the carnival of Encarnacion is much noisier and offers more skin than Rio… according to us it is also much more affordable and less touristy. (Scroll down to watch our VIDEO !!)
Tips: It is impossible to buy tickets online. You can only buy from the ticket office at the entrance of the Sambodrome. We recommend buying tickets at the latest the day before as many buses arrive from all over the country and the queue can become very long and the places limited on the day of the parade. More info: http://www.carnavalencarnaceno.com.py (updated a few weeks before the start of the festivities).
Just like Rio, the Encarnacion Carnival is a competition between different Samba dance schools that train and prepare the costumes and floats throughout the year. The groups present their choreography in multiple performances on Fridays and Saturdays.
The parade is a combination of very colourful floats that advance to the rhythm of samba and dancers to the side of a queen clothed in long feathers and bright “underwear”. They all try to smile as well as not to show fatigue that seizes them with every movement. During their “break” we see on their face the heaviness of their magnificent plumages and the pains inflicted by their high heels.
But it is necessary to make good poses, it is necessary to hold, it is necessary to dance the samba, to represent the club and if possible to win the competition.
On our side, in the stands, we are somewhat intoxicated by the contagious atmosphere and the “leche leche” that we drink (cans of beer being sold as “milk milk”). We danced by the side of locals who seemed more passionate about their snow spray that they spread all over the crowd. This concentrated soap carried in a can turns to snowflakes once in the air. The smell goes straight up the throat and looked really toxic!
This craziness lasted until 1am when a storm brook over the city and sent everyone home. In a few seconds we were soaked, with water up to the ankles, the sky lit by a lightning show and our eyes burning because of the snow which mixed on our skin with the rain. The Sambodrome emptied in no time and we all ran on the streets to return to our hostel. The streets were transformed into torrents, the dogs were howling, the cars tried to make way between the pedestrians looking for shelter. We had never experienced such a deluge. It was a great carnival !
We however regret a little the lack of atmosphere in the city. We expected to see the city “prepare” and “vibrate” before the launch of the festivities. But apart from a few shops selling costumes and masks, nothing in the city showed the carnival season had started. Yet, despite a sudden stop of the parade, we loved our stay in Encarnacion. We were lucky enough to attend an authentic carnival with the feeling of being the only “gringos” present. It is not possible everywhere.
Costs and useful info
Change in February 2017: 1 € = 6000 Gs
Hostel in Encarnacion : Kerana Hostel = 80000 pp pn (dorm) – we liked this hostel located near the city center and 5 min from the beach. Good breakfast.
Entrance Carnival :
Sector 1 entrance -> Sector 6 end. We chose the sector 4 and i think we did well. There are also VIP and premium stands which are more expensives (110 000+ Gs)