Founded in 1899 Ayolas remained a small fishing village until the mid 1970’s when Paraguay and Argentina signed a treaty to construct the Yacyreta hydroelectric plant nearby. The resulting influx of over 8,000 engineers and construction workers changed this tiny town forever. Nowadays the sprawling town has a distinctly suburban feel that is very different from most Paraguayan towns (most notably the roads are almost all paved). Ayolas is set on high ground overlooking the Parana River just as it curves around what remains of the Isla Yacyreta, 90 percent of which was submerged by the dam’s reservoir. Though Yacyreta constantly plays second fiddle to the larger, more impressive Itaipu the natural scenery that surrounds the dam makes a visit worthwhile.
Sidebar: During the Jesuit era Ayolas, then named San Jose Mi, was the port for the mission of San Ignacio.
Ayolas is well known throughout Paraguay as a fishing destination that rivals Villa Florida to the north. In particular tourists (especially Brazilians) flock to Ayolas for the chance to fish a prized dorado out of the waters. There are no organized fishing tours but hotel staff will happily help arrange for a guide. Be careful to negotiate a fixed price ahead of time, especially regarding fuel costs (see Fishing). Though he is based out of Florida, Andrew Esposito of Mission Tours is a good source for connecting with reputable fishing guides in Ayolas. A former Peace Corps volunteer, Andrew is very friendly and well-versed in the ins and outs of organizing fishing tours. Be sure to contact him in advance. www.Misionesparaguay.com, info@,Misionesparaguay.com
Club Social y Deportivo Yacyreta
The nicest area from which to enjoy the view of the river is the Club Social y Deportivo whose grounds are open to the public. From here you can see the river in all its glory, and across from it the vegetation of Isla Yacyreta. This is also a great spot for bird watching – keep your eyes open for burrowing owls that live in earthen nests on the hillside. Grab a quick bite or sit down for a full meal before heading down to the club’s waterfront – when the levels are low there is a nice sandy beach to sit on.
Hotel Nacional de Turismo de Ayolas The Hotel Nacional de Turismo is located on a highpoint above the river. The view is great and there is a walking path down to the river’s edge. Like its sister hotel in Villa Florida, the building is built in a colonial style with wraparound corridors, tiled floors, and high ceilings. Breakfast not included. The large fish mounted at the entrance is sure to inspire you to order up ever-popular fish dishes from the hotel’s restaurant. Tel: 072 222 274, 021 222 273, Single Gs. 50,000, Double Gs. 100,000, Triple Gs 120,000, Wi-Fi, A/C, pool, tennis courts
Hotel Ayolas Located right at the water’s edge this hotel has a great view making up for the fact that the rooms are a little worn. The hotel’s restaurant is a good option for savoring surubi or dorado the while admiring the waters where your meal once swam. Tel: 072 222 381, Double Gs. 140,000-180,000, Wi-Fi, TV, A/C
Hotel Kadel Located in the center of town, Hotel Kadel is a bit past its prime but worth staying at if hotels on the river are full. Rooms are basic and a bit small. Tel: 072 222 153, Mariscal Lopez 1292 in the Barrio San Antonio neighborhood, Gs. 50,000 per person, TV, A/C, minifridge
Restaurant Lizza The restaurant’s plain and humble exterior belies the quirky ambience that awaits its diners. No surface has been left, undecorated – the walls are covered with guitars, harps, and paintings and hammocks and baskets galore hang overhead. Portions are very generous. Tel: 072 222 1 756, at the entrance to town just past the welcome sign, 7am-12pm, Gs.20,000-30,000
Restaurant del Club Social y Deportivo Yacyreta See previous listing Hotel Ayolas See previous listing
Hotel Nacional de Turismo de Ayolas See previous listing Jineteadas: Paraguay ’s Rodeo
Attending a jineteada is a great way to see Latin American style of taming wild horses and young colts. See jinetes (male riders) and amazonas (female riders) strut their stuff during activities that include parades, doma de potro (colt taming/ horse breaking), and sometimes a corrida de toros (bull race), all to the tune of upbeat music heavy on the percussion and brass. No jineteada is complete without the participation of sometimes surprisingly young riders who demonstrate their skills to the delight of the crowds. Many cattle ranches remain family affairs with participants spanning generations from grandmothers and fathers presiding over the events to small children slowly but surely being introduced into the culture starting with sulky rides and then working their way up.
Jineteadas are not specific to Misiones, in fact they are held routinely nationwide. Local radio can be a good place to find out about upcoming jineteadas. This is an especially popular past time in rural areas. A good source of information on upcoming jineteadas throughout the country is the Asociacion de Jinetes del Paraguay. www.ajp.com.py
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