Altos’ close proximity to San Bernardino has made it an ideal destination for the influx of German immigrants who have been arriving steadily since the late 1800’s. As the town’s name suggests Altos (Spanish for “heights”) is on elevated terrain – some of the best views of Lake Ypacaraf are to be had along the road that leads uphill from San Bernardino to Altos. The town is known for its rustic wood masks, animals and colorfully painted wooden flowers as well as the quirky celebration of patron Sts. Pedro and Pablo (Peter and Paul).
Fiesta de San Pedro Y San Pablo
The nearby compania of Itaguazu holds a three day festival with traditional games and dances in honor of Sts. Peter and Paul from the 28th to the 30th of June. The highlight of the festival is the rua dance which recreates the kidnapping of women by raiding bands of Guaikuru Indians. During the colonial era Guaikuru raids were common throughout the Cordillera region. Ceremonial recreations of the raids were once common during regional festivals. Today, Itaguazu is one of handful of communities that keep this tradition alive. Women dance and sing in a circle with torches lit about. The Guaikuru appear out of the shadows suddenly, entirely camouflaged with wooden masks and enormous costumes made of dried banana leaves (vaguely reminiscent of Cousin It). Also present are the kamba ra’anga, (masked men) who play the part of jesters performing comedy skits throughout the festival. This celebration has recently gained the attention of the tourism ministry which makes public transportation to the festival available from Altos for the festival. For more information it is best to contact the municipal office’s tourism secretary, Leonardo Martinez at 0985 893 443.
Hotel Punta Prima Enjoy the great view of the lake from either the hotel pool or the restaurant’s terrace. Rooms are nice and modern and the restaurant’s Italian cook serves up delicious pizza and pasta. The restaurant also features a buffet on Sundays. The chicken pesto pizza is particularly good. The hotel is about two kilometers before the center of town. Tel: 0982 170 476for Spanish speakers, 0982 233 770 for English and German speakers, 6kilometers past San Bernardino on the left-hand side of the road. www.hotel-punta-prima.de, Doubles Gs.
300,000, Restaurant Gs. 25,000-55,000
Hotel La Grappa The only lodging option in the center of town, Hotel La Grappa is small and pleasant with a nice sized pool. The hotel can arrange for dinner shows (request in advance) including live music as well as rides around town in horse drawn carts and jeep tours of surrounding areas. The restaurant’s specialty is milanesa de surubi (breaded and fried) but they can also whip up a chupm or caldo de surub on request. Tel: 0516 262 436, General Bernardino Caballero and Defensores del Chaco. From the road into town take a right when you reach the church and continue down Mariscal Estigarribia two and a half blocks. The hotel will be on the left-hand side of the road just past the sign for Na Neca, www.paraguay-lagrappa.com (this website also has some good general information on Altos itself), Single
Gs. 130,000-150,000, Doubles 180,000-200,000, computer with internet for a fee, A/C, minifridge, pool
Comedor Na Neca A pleasant walk from the main plaza, Na Neca’s offers good quality home-style Paraguayan foods such as roasted chicken and pasta. Go early on weekends during the summer as it fills up fast with visitors from San Bernardino. Tel: 0512 230 059, 0983 227 646, From the church continue down Mariscal Estigarribia two blocks, take a left (you will see a sign for Na Neca) and continue one and a half blocks. The restaurant is on the right-hand side. Daily 12pm-3pm, 9pm-10pm, Gs. 22,000-25,000
Caipirinha A popular hangout on the edge of town. Play pool, darts and foosball (known here as “futbolito”) under a thatched roof quincho and enjoy the mix of German, American and Paraguayan foods. Don’t miss the spicy pork curry with fries. Tel: 0981 775 339, on the left-hand side entering town about 150 meters past the Puma gas station, www.caipirinha-altos.de, Mon-Fri 6pm-12pm, Sat-Sun 12am-12pm, Gs. 7,000-30,000
Take Route 2 from Asuncion and turn on to the road to San Bernardino past YpacaraL Drive through the center of town and turn right on to Mariscal Lopez (there is a Copaco building on the corner). From there continue uphill approximately twelve kilometers. The road is paved the whole way.
The Loma Grandense has frequent buses which pass through San Bernardino before heading to Altos (see Getting There, San Bernardino), Gs. 6,200.