Trip to Paraguay with investors of Miller Forest
The adventure starts beginning of December at the airport Frankfurt. It will change my personal view of South America.
Besides my investor-friend Ringo and guide Pierre, who you might know from the first videos about Miller Forest, other three persons participated in the investors trip: Hanna, she rents holiday flats at the Bodensee; Fred, owner of a technical firm in Hamburg; and a noble man, who ordered to plant very many trees in Paraguay as we will learn later on, however, I have not written down his name.
We are facing a 12-hours night-flight – for somebody with my body height, this is always a challenge on the cheap seats in the rear of the Latam Boing 777.
Report of an adventure
Therefore, I was happy to be able to use the waiting time of five hours after entering the Brazil airport São Paulo to work on our special portal.
It was Sunday morning close to 6 am and due to the time difference, you had already automatically received our Sunday mail and also posted feedback.
With a domestic airplane, we continued our trip for another two hours to Foz do Iguaçu, the last airport before the border to Paraguay. People say that it is cheaper than landing directly in Paraguay.
And on our home trip, it resulted that it also was more reliable and more comfortable!
Markus, who immigrated to Paraguay with his parents from Bavaria and is owner of Felber Travel, picked us up with a minibus. We immediately headed to the border, which was only 15 minutes away.
Departure Brazil, Entrance Paraguay
Formality: stamp and signature in the passport. Costs: none. Waiting time: none.
For everyone, who wants to supply him/herself with the local currency, the Guaraní, Markus stopped on the main entrance road to Paraguay at the money jobbers along the roads. It was a funny exchanging of US-Dollar or Euro-bills into the torn Guaraní-bills.
Before starting the journey, I read on the Internet that one could only withdraw rather small amounts at ATMs, and a German woman that I met through Couchsurfing claimed that one additionally had to pay a high withdrawal fee.
I wanted to test this by myself for our dear readers with the DKB Visa Card, which is also free from the foreign transaction fees at card payments since a few days. So, I only changed a US$ 20 bill into Guaraní, just out of fun.
Moreover, I did not believe that a money jobber on the road would give me a good exchange rate. Sitting exhausted in the last row of the minibus and without Internet, a quick comparison really was difficult.
Afterwards, I found out that I was wrong!
I got Guaraní 110,000 for my US$ 20.
This is an exchange fee of only 69 cent. And not with an exchange rate including hidden fees, as classically offered by the exchange industry. Only 69 cents difference to the rate of Yahoo:
Some kilometers further along the road, we stopped at a gas station to change some of our recently exchanged Guaraní into water and small snacks. This was necessary, because when we have Winter, it is Summer in Paraguay. Therefore, it was pretty hot!
Small side blow, but good news for investors!
From my previous investor-trips (e.g. tungston, oil, gold), I was used to have cooled water already on the car, sometimes even sandwiches or one drove directly to a reserved restaurant.
This was different with Miller.
One was able to buy everything for oneself, everything that has not been prepaid yet.
Also the journey was not sponsored or partially sponsored. Every participant – besides the yearly winner of the Miller-raffle – bore 100 per cent of his/her costs by him/herself!
Because of the borborygmus of us travellers, we headed to a restaurant. However, it was still more than an hour by car on the national road 7, later the national road 6.
Finally at the hotel
After an altogether 5-hour drive, we reached an outstanding hotel with German management in Bella Vista in the south of the country.
Internet was provided and for Paraguayan conditions even really good, as I experienced later on, and a big blue pool: warm and without conceivable chlorine than used to from other hotel pools.
Moreover, I was able to start every day during the journey with changing sites in Paraguay: getting up far too early, checking the webportal, reading your comments and answering, swimming excessively in the pool, having breakfast with other trip participants.
On the next day, there was no visiting of the afforestation yet. The origin of the Miller-company is a travel company with focus on South America. Therefore, a sightseeing day was the our first program point. This, however, was great, because one could get to know the other trip participants.
We took a look at a tea factory. Drinking Mate tea is extremely popular in Paraguay. Workers often take their huge and lovely-decorated tea cup to work.
In the afternoon, we headed to a historic settlement, which is quiet famous. Sorry, but I know more about financial subjects. 😉
Then we drove to the boarder river to Argentina, where the first two minutes of this video clip were created:
Further streets and limitation at the ATM
On the next day, we went to the afforestation. However, driving there takes a whole day, because the road holding is not direct, but one can only reach it making a big detour, anyway, from the southern part of the country.
Most roads in the rural Paraguay, besides the few national highways and main roads of the bigger towns and cities, are not paved and only suitable to a limited extend for longer distance trips.
From the capital city Asunción to the afforestation, one does not have to leave the paved roads. This is advantageous, if one wants to do directly to the compound.
Ringo and me will go to Asunción after the days of visiting the forest. This was discussed beforehand, but not paid yet. The boss of the travel organization gave me the good advice to withdraw money in Bella Vista, because there is no ATM at the afforestation.
ATMs and card payments are common in the cities – hardly available on the countryside
Therefore, I hurried to the bank that are generally opened in Paraguay from 8:30 am to 1 pm and are constantly protected during this time by armed security staff. In Asunción, one even has to leave the cellphone and other things before going through a lock into the counter hall of the bank.
It was enough for me to use the ATM in the entrance hall of the bank. Incidentally, the ATMs in Paraguay are all the same independently of the bank. Well, at least the ones that I have tested on this journey.
One can withdraw up to Guaraní 1,500,000, which is the equivalent to about Euros 250. For this, a direct customer fee of Guaraní 25,000 (equivalent to Euros 4.12 fee) always applies. This is shown before the payment, so that one could still cancel the transaction.
You can see on your bank statement the total amount of Guaraní 1,525,000.
Pleasantly, there is no DCC (yet) in Paraguay, so that the currency is exchanged by your credit card or main bank.
As usual, “my” DKB provides me with a fair exchange rate and does not even charge the foreign transaction fee, as the ING-DiBa and Barclaycard and most other banks unfortunately do. I took the before-mentioned cards with me as a reserve – but I did not need them.
Only hours before the flight, I got sent a prepaid card of a foreign-transaction-fee-free provider for testing …
… but without a previous and intensive checking of the card and provider, I would not like to present details in public.
If you are interested in a prepaid credit card, where no fees for the international use apply, then please let me know through the comments box. Perhaps this will be the reason for taking this card with me on my next trip …
Information in the coffee house at the edge of the world
… I would name a video clip later on like this and in fact: when we reached the Isla del Bosque (freely translated: forest island) at warm sunshine in the late afternoon on St. Nicholas Day, it felt like arriving in paradise. Anyways, a paradise in Paraguay.
Matthias, an immigrant from Saxony, has built a small and charming hotel with swimming pool with unimaginable own effort in the middle of the Paraguayan grasslands.
There is not much left to see of the grasslands, because his trees and the trees of other investors have afforested the whole environment.
Due to the fact that Paraguay is mainly covered by grassland, which we will discover during a first tour on the operator’s depot of Felber Forestal, the name forest island fits perfectly!
If you should ever drive through Paraguay on the national road 8, which was build from the north and completely paved, you should plan a stay at Matthias. Nowhere else in Paraguay, I ate as delicious as in his restaurant!
The operator’s depot
Further down this page, you will find a comprehensive video during a walk, from the generation of the plants to the operator’s depot until the yield growth areas, so that I am only embedding one picture at this point:
The following day was the highlight of the journey for me. After an extremely tasty breakfast at Matthias, we went to the premises of Felber Forestal.
Briefly for the orientation:
the Miller Forest Investment AG is the German side of the forest investment, responsible for the sales management and investors’ service. The Felber Forestal SA is the tree nursury and the cultivation company in Paraguay. Both companies are interwoven.
Carsten Felber (boss) and Jonas Hönnebeck (forestry engineer and operating manager) guide the group of investors from the creation of plants to the nursery and from the workshop to the planting fields.
It was interesting, how they create a big part of the trees by themselves. In the first years, they only planted trees bought from other tree nursuries.
It is similar at the end of the growth and yield cycle: one planned at first to let the fields be harvested by wage companies, but due to the higher quality, one decided to harvest by onself too.
As often in life, one treats own things with more care than things of other people. At some varieties, Felber Forest manages that 99 per cent of trees sprout from the same trunk after the first harvest and one can harvest a ripe tree after only 5–6 years without new seedling and planting.
The wood grows extremely fast!
In the meantime at Miller Forest, there is a very broad product range of trees to be planted on the fields for investors. Among them, there are extremely fast growing eucalyptus tree types, which are ripe for harvest already after a few years and can then be processed to wood for energy.
The main part of it is processed to wood chips, which are used in Paraguayan factories for energy creation.
Some trees are processed to charcoal, which will be available for purchase in some selected markets in Germany expectedly from 2017. But precaution! Due to the quality of the wood, the Paraguayan coal burns longer and hotter as we are used to from commercial charcoal in Germany!
One can invest in 3 types of forest:
- Wood for energy
These are the extremely fast growing eucalyptus trees that are used for energy creation after the harvest. Herein, the expected yields are between 4.3 and 7.3 per cent. Advantage: payouts every 5–6 years.
- High valuable wood
The growth until the final harvest takes 16-20 years and produces wood of a quality that is used at a good carpenter. From these trees, durable wood products are created. We will get back to the clever CO2-storage for entrepreneurs. The yield is around 8 per cent.
- Natural forest
If one does not become a partner of a leased field, but takes advantage of the option of purchasing land in Paraguay, then one can let be planted a natural forest on it. The expected yield is stated with 3.9 per cent.
On purchased land, you can also let be planted a combination of your choice. There is also a leased variant with a combination forest at a term of 16 years.
Purchasing or leasing?
Both options are offered by Miller Forest and it is difficult for me to give you a recommendation. In my case, I decided for a leased land. Therefore, I have no responsability of the land abroad.
I am only the owner of the trees on the land and the lease agreement has the same term, so until the final harvest of the trees.
When the forest is harvested, I receive the multiple of my invested money and have no responsabilities!
For other people, the comparably cheap purchase amount of the land has a special appeal, because due to the current laws, one can apply for a permanent residence permit in Paraguay from a 5 hectare land.
Through this, one gets issued a Paraguayan ID-card, the Cédula, and can travel perfectly through the South American continent with this docment.
Some investors have already taken advantage of this possiblity and have provided themselves with a permanent authorization for a shelter. Moreover, I also know a construction entrepreneur, who builds houses as secondary residences in Paraguay.
The biggest company in the region
Founded about 10 years ago, Felber Forestal is with 250 employees the biggest employer in the region. Thanks to the investors from Germany, this has lead to a small upturn in the region weak in structure.
When daddy works regularly in the forest and brings home the money, then mommy can go shopping 😉 … and buy a motorcycle (the main means of transportation) or a Smartphone. And for this, one needs in turn repair shops (due to the road condition) or cellphone-shops.
Investing in trees has launched an economic cycle, which is very positive and leads to further upturns.
For example, the national road number 8 has been expanded and has received a thick asphalt layer. Where is this road located? Directly through the forest land of Miller Forest. Since a few weeks, there is a permanent road access, so that workers can come here at every weather condition and one can deliver as well as discharge.
For such a great diligence, one also needs an according vehicle fleet with connected repair shop. Currently, there are 17 tractors, some special vehicles and trailers, to produce forest.
Tour via video for you
For the following day, I have arranged with Pierre on taking a video for our smart bank customers in which the production procedure is presented from A to Z. Voilà, here is the 18-minute video for you:
At the same day, it was all about saying good-bye to the investors’ group, which was then travelling to the world’s biggest waterfall before returning to Germany.
With Hanna and Fred, I am still in contact – both have thought about letting get build a house in Paraguay additionally to the forest investment. Perhaps, we will get an interview about that subject. If you are interested, please tell me through the comments feature.
Video of the accomodation?
In the internal area, I will upload the video that I have recorded of the accomodation, as well as a secretly recorded chat with the innkeeper and emigrant Matthias.
Journey to Asunción
Ringo and I wanted to see more of Paraguay and were looking forward to our almost 4-hours transfer to the capital city. Unfortunately, we had to pay the ficticious price of Euros 218 per person, which I would not do again.
As a comparison: the minimum wage in Paraguay, which is paid to about 50 per cent of all employed persons, is at US-Dollar 300 per month! The bus trip would have costed US-Dollar 10. But we were lucky with Gustavo, we got a German-speaking driver, who have helped us otherwise with great advices.
Due to a misunderstanding, we did not arrive at the Grand Hotel de Paraguay, but at the Crowne Plaza, which is shown as Grand Hotel even at Google Maps. Even this should be of advantage. After all, it is the best-rated hotel by TripAdvisor in the whole city!
A beautiful place to continue the series of getting up far too early, working on the webportal, swimming and having breakfast.
The following days were deliberately planned for:
- working at another, seasonly better place
- researching for the readers of our portal
- getting to know people on site.
All this worked flawlessly and was so much fun for me. Apart from the hotel – our negotiated special price was US-Dollar 110 per night – everything else was really cheap for us. Even in the posh restaurants, we felt comfortable with the prices and liked to order generously.
Except a single bottle of water in the supermarket and the taxi drives, everything else could be paid perfectly with the credit card.
Even in the evenings, we felt safe on streets, squares and in parks. There were policemen or private – but armed – security staff almost everywhere.
Between the historical centre and the border river
Actually, this is an obvious sign that the area should be enjoyed with caution … we notices that when we turned wrong and drove into the worst favela of the city. There was no “protection” anymore and we, being obviously foreigners, were stared at by the people living in miserable huts, as if we were aliens.
In the worst favela of the city!
Now we had to be mentally strong, self-conscious, with best charisma and fast pace to find a way out, withough getting into a dead end, otherwise, we would not have escaped the constant yelling of the people in a language that we did not understand.
We felt that it was about 8 minutes of fast pace through the unknown narrow streets. Partially, we were followed by curious persons … and if somebody walks towards you with a baseball bat, it does not necessarily mean that it is a sportsman. 😉
However, I am glad that I have made this experience and got out without being harmed – including money and cellphone. Fortunately, Ringo told me after this experience that he had a dream before in which we were killed on this journey.
Paraguay is a thrilling country. For living with my family rather not an option, for adventure-trips, yes! Also for investments in forests.
In the end, the trees grow here four times as fast out of climatic reasons and I guess that the workers also “only” get a quarter of the wage in Germany. However, this is not comparable, as a German worker would be four times as effective and Felber Forestal pays fair salaries in this region.
Paraguay is a good place to let plant a forest
The opening of a bank account in Paraguay is not interesting and a very complicated procedure, at which you have to provide a number of proof and permits. In order to get in charge of the situation of an estimated part of 38 per cent of informal economy, the banks in Paraguay have the function of a second tax authority. At payment deposit, the customer has to proof that the money was earned through a “clean” source. No wonder that the counter halls in the banks were quite full of people.
The payments of Miller Forest can be comfortably transferred in Euros to the current account in Germany, optionally also to the aborad and in other currencies, if one changed the place of residence during the term.
A financial commitment at Miller Forest means:
- 6–20 years long-term capital investment (possibly plus permanent land)
- tangible assets, as account money is exchanged into trees (inflation-neutral)
- investment outside the Euro-area, because it is in Paraguay (South America)
- Depending on the ordered tree-package, expected yield between 3.9 and 8.2 per cent per year
- supervision through Waldrat e.V. (independent investors’ association)
- forest purchase from Euros 970 possible.
Personal note: an investment at Miller Forest is nothing for the classic savings-book saver!
How will it go on?
If this report has awakened a spark of interest in forest investment or in participating is such an investors’ tour, then do the first step by ordering the free and non-binding information broschure of Pierre.
Please do this through the following order form, because I have promised to the people on the farm that further interested parties will come through reading my report in Germany.
Our investments cause a base of life for people, from which they can further develop; more jobs are created and more trees are planted and cared for. This causes yield for our investment.
Limited bonus only for my readers!
I want to keep my promise with a new investors’ tour and therefore, I am paying out of my own wallet a cash bonus of US-Dollar 100, for everone, who participates in the investors’ tour!
The beauty of it all: you do not have to decide today – as the travel date is not fixed yet. But by ordering the information, you will be sent the voucher in the value of US-Dollar 100 as a PDF personally by me.
Get the travel voucher in the amount of US-Dollar 100:
Enter your contact information, check the boxes and click on submit:
Note out of fairness: the investors’ trips always take place with a small number of people; therefore I allow myself to retire the offer of the vouchers from this page, if a sufficient number has been issued. Every issued voucher will remain valid for an unlimited time!
Ringo purchases Miller-trees
After my friend, investor and entrepreneur Ringo has been shown everything, he has also made the decision to purchase Miller-trees.
Being a smart entrepreneur, he does it in the same way as I do it for our web portal: smart climate-neutrally! By what requirements would that be interesting for you?
Further articles about Miller Forest:
Further articles that were created in this context with the journey:
- Ideas for travellers: exchanging Euros into US-Dollars?
- ING-DiBa: cash deposits at the airport
- Reader’s question answered on the roof of the hotel
How did you like this comprehensive report?
I would be glad for your rating using the star-feature – also for ideas, suggestions and questions through the comments box. Many thanks!
PS: You can also go through the contact form www.miller-forest.de – however, I would be glad, if you would use our form for the information request, because this way, I can measure the success of our work. Many thanks!
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