Across Paraguay there are many out crops of rock rising abruptly from the surrounding flat lands. One such out crop forms a small hill not far from my house.

In front of the house across the valley rises a wall of cliffs. These rise a hundred or more metres from the valley bottom and separate it from the next. Behind the house however the land rises more gently. At its summit sits a smaller set of rocks. Although these rise no more than 20 or 30 metres they do so virtically.

At one point they would have been part of a much larger hill. However over millions of year the elements have worn away the softer surrounding sandstone leaving behind just the harder core rocks. The sandstone is now the soil which covers the land.

The hill is clearly visible from my house. Bare rocks shining on the horizon. It is also no more than 10 minutes walk from the front door.

To reach it I must first climb over my neighbours fence. It is at the bottom of hos land that the hill stands. Then a cart track leads the way. This is worn deep below the land surface through many years of use. After a while this fades away into a vast sea of grass dotted with palm trees.

Once in the grass the hill in front is clearly visible. Rising abruptly from the grass it forms a seemingly impassable barrier. Only when seen from close up does the hill reveal itself to be made of a jumble of rocks rather than a solid mass.

The grass stops in front of the first low rock platforms. Here nature replaces farmland with a wild tangle of trees and undergrowth. All that grows around the rocks represents the natural flora that once grew across the land before being tamed by man.

In places the undergrowth is thick an impenetrable. Elsewhere paths have been worn though it either by woodmen seeking firewood or intrepid tourists. There are several of these small paths leading up to the first tall buttresses of rock. Deeper in the thick canopy and thin soil have left the ground bare of all but thin trees and small bushes.

The rocks of the hill rise vertically. They have weathered in places with pit and gullies on their surfaces but in others have kept their sheer sides. Growing from cracks in their walls are plants whos seeds have found their way into crevices and whos roots hang in the air awaiting moisture.

In places trees to have seeded themselves. These appear to be growing out of the rocks. Their thick roots wrapping round the stone and heading into the soil below. There is one free standing rock completely enclosed by the roots of the tree growing upon it.

The first wall of rocks offers several ways into the interior of the hill. There are great walls of rock leading paths onwards and free standing columns of rock splitting pathways.

The outstanding feature of the hill is its stone arch way. This natural archway is free standing on one side and attached to further cliffs on the other. It is several metres across and rises 10 or 15 metres from the ground. The bare rocks form a perfect archway.

A gentle slope of loose soil leads up to its base. Then passing through the arch the rocks soon lead out onto a wide flat platform. From this vantage point the whole of the surrounding countryside is visible. Almost everything is green. Grass and trees marching off into the distance. Just here and there the occasional house roof breaks up the sea of green. From up here even buildings on the tarmac road several miles away can be seen. It is an impressive view.

Behind this platform and level with the arch the rocks rise much further. To scale these is far harder. In places real rock climbing skills are required. However if the climb is made the view is even greater. From these high points above even the canopy of the trees the view is immense. Unimpeded it stretches away to the horizon in every direction. Everywhere the land is cloaked in green and everywhere it drops away before rising in the distance to the next row of hills.

Also up upon the highest rocks an encounter with the resident bird life is quite possible. Up here nest black vultures. Big birds even from a distance and quite a sight close up. Standing half a metre high and with a wing span of a metre and a half. It is impossible to visit the hill without seeing vultures for they are forever circling above it. From these high rocks they can look out across the fields and flat lands below.

Here the vultures along with the lizards, snakes and armadillos on the ground below them are able to live out their lives. On the whole without mans interference.

Beyond the first buttress of rock the hills take on a more broken appearance. Great cliffs rise in a complicated confusion and the ground is a trackless tangle of small trees and shrubs. With the canopy blocking out the sun and high rock walls rising in every direction it is easy to become lost. Walking round in a circle is easily done.

The hill though covering only a few acres a suitable exit can always be found with a bit of searching. I have learnt to find my way out by heading for bright spots on the forest floor and then checking that the sun is in the right place.

The rear of the hill is even more sudden than the front. There seeming low rocks rising just a little from the ground. However on the far side of these there is a sheer drop of many metres into the valley below. From below there can be found a couple of breaks in this wall allowing the hill to be approached without difficulty from that side also.

Whenever I have the urge for a good walk and to be immersed in nature for a couple of hours I head to the Hill of the Stone Arch. There nature rules as she always has done.