At the city of Coronel Oviedo, where Route 2 turns into Route 7, the landscapes become flatter and there is a significant drop in population density and a shift in focus towards large scale agriculture. While many of the Paraguayan inhabitants of the departments of Caaguazu and Alto Parana still survive on small scale farming the majority large scale farming is done by foreigners – Brazilians and European and American Mennonites who have the financial capacity to expand to mechanized agriculture. Tourists will find that, until Ciudad del Este (which belongs to the department of Alto Parana), there is not much in the way of attractions along Route 7. Coronel Oviedo marks the start of the start of Route 8 leading south to the department of Guaira which has much to offer tourists (see Route 8). Both Coronel Oviedo and Caaguazu are mostly commercial hubs. The series of small towns that follow are almost all Mennonite colonies where the focus is on labor rather than recreation.
Located roughly in the middle of Eastern Paraguay the city of Coronel Oviedo (often simply called Oviedo) is a major transportation hub. Here Route 2, which starts in Asuncion, becomes Route 7, which ends in Ciudad del Este. Route 8 runs South from Coronel Oviedo past Villarrica all the way to Caazapa and North to San Estanislao where it connects with both Route 3 (which continues North connecting with Pedro Juan Caballero and Concepcion) and Route 10 (which heads East to Salto de Guaira and the border with Brazil). Though Coronel Oviedo is the largest in the area those wishing to visit towns in the neighboring department of Guaira will be better off using the city of Villarrica as a home base.
Known as mani in Spanish and manduvi in Guaram, peanuts are a typical crop consumed by Paraguayans in many forms. Dulce de mani, a chewy version of peanut brittle made with sugar cane honey (miel de cana), is one of the most popular peanut based foods. Home made dulce de mani is sold on buses and roadside stands throughout the country, usually costing from Gs.500 to Gs.1000. They are also referred to as kai ladrillo, or “monkey bricks,” presumably because monkeys love the sweet, nutty treat as much as humans do. Another sweet peanut snack is candy-coated peanuts called mani garrapinado. Ground peanuts, called manduvi kui are often added to cocido and also consumed as a dessert along with sugar cane honey. This dish, caked manduvi kui con miel is often referred to jokingly as “viagra paraguaya.” A less traditional but still popular form of consuming peanuts is as peanut butter which is produced for the most part by Mennonite cooperatives. This peanut butter or manteca de mani (literally butter from peanuts) is excellent, made only with ground peanuts and salt (though some cooperatives also add in chocolate or sesame seeds).
Hotels in Oviedo are pretty evenly priced so you are better off deciding where to stay based on your travel needs. For those whose plans involve visiting the city it is best to choose a hotel in town. If you are just passing through and do not plan to do anything in Oviedo itself there are several decent options at the entrance to town along Route 2. For those who want get some fresh air before continuing on there are two nice ranches (estancias) that can be visited in the outskirts of Oviedo -Granja Alto Liebe right off Route 8 and Estancia Don Emilio about eight kilometers off Route 8.
Hotel San Ser Though this is the furthest from the center of Coronel Oviedo this hotel has the nicest grounds. The hotel’s five hectares of woods including plenty of citrus trees provide a natural ambience which contrasts sharply with the rest of Coronel Oviedo. Enjoy the view from the hotel terrace. Tel: 0521 200 826, Rt 2 km 129.5 at Mariscal Estigarribia and Humaita on
the left-hand side of the road if coming from Asuncion. If you pass the crossroads leading into town you’ve gone too far, www.sanserhotel.com, Singles: Gs. 60,000-90,000, doubles
90.000-110,000, TV, A/C, pool
Hotel Bertea The nivel basico (basic) rooms are nothing fancy but all have TV and A/C and are the cheapest lodging in Coronel Oviedo (there are also higher priced nivel superior and premium rooms). The location is good if you are just passing through. Next door is the popular restaurant Parador La Nona and there is also a bus ticketing agency within the same building. Tel: 0521 202 019, Rt 2 km130 (on the left-hand side if coming from Asuncion), Single Gs.
40.000-60,000 and Gs. 100,000-150,000, Doubles Gs. 60,000-80,000 and Gs. 120,000-
180,000, TV, A/C
Granja Alte Liebe Easily accessible from Coronel Oviedo, Granja Alte Liebe’s well maintained grounds are perfect for a day trip or escape from the city. Stroll along the walking paths that lead past the farm’s citrus groves, man-made fish pond, and unique rock faced pool. Those who want to feel as far removed from the city as possible can request to stay in one of the two cabins towards the back of the property alongside a small man made creek. Tel: 0521 200447, 0991 554 818, Route 8 km 147, thirteen kilometers south of Coronel Oviedo on the left-hand side of Route 8, On Facebook, restaurant open summers only, Bungalows Gs.
60,000 per person, camping Gs. 30,000 per person, A/C, pool, fishing
Lodging in Town
Hotel Center A very nice hotel in the downtown area close to Oviedo’s large main plaza. Rooms are big and halls are nicely decorated with unique metal work incorporating nanduti designs. Laundry service is a nice perk. Tel: 0521 204 610, 204 611, 0972 534 766, Defensores del Chaco and Vice Presidente. Sanches between the Stock and El Machetazo supermarkets, Single Gs. 60,000-70,000, double Gs. 90,000-100,000, Wi-Fi, computers with internet, TV, A/C
La Estancia de Don Emilio A taste of rural Paraguay with the comforts of an upscale ranch, La Estancia de Don Emilio sits in the middle of a 4000 plus hectare private estate, 1,300 of which remain untouched. Owned and operated by descendants of French immigrants along with a friendly Paraguayan staff. Relax in the pool, enjoy horseback riding or take part in daily farm tasks, if you want to get your hands dirty and really earn the four meals provided per day. Rooms combine the best features of traditional Paraguayan architecture along with elegant furniture brought over from the Old World. Tel: 021 660 791, 021 603 994, 0981507 105 ask to speak to Senora Magabi. If in a private vehicle drive approximately six kilometers south from Oviedo and turn left at the sign for the airport, drive eight kilometers on this dirt road which will dead end at the estancias large white main gate. If traveling by bus you can take a taxi from Oviedo or inquire with Senora Magabi about the possibility of being picked up either in Oviedo or from the entrance on Route 8. www.donemilioestancia.com, US 60$ per day although there is a slightly lesser rate for Paraguayans and those holding a Paraguayan ID card, Pool, horseback riding
Parador La Nona A popular pit stop, the Parador La Nona has a decent sized buffet with pastas, salads and a wide variety of grilled meats. Tel: 0521 202019, Rt 2 km 130 next door to Hotel
Berteajust before the entrance to town, Gs. 10,000-20,000, daily 6am-11:30pm
Sudamericana Located relatively close to the entrance to town Sudamericana is a Brazilian style churrasqueria where a fixed price brings round after round of meats right off the grill. As with all churrasquerias it is best to go when there are lots of diners. Tel: 0521 205 101, Mariscal Estigarribia and Las Residentas on the left-hand side of the road entering town across the street from a Puma gas station, Gs. 20,000, Mon-Thu 8am-3pm, Fri-Sat 8am-3pm, 6pm-12am
Charlot A pleasant little restaurant with nice ambience tucked away from the main road into town. The international menu (pastas, chicken and meats) is somewhat limited but delicious and well priced. Service is very good as well. Tel: 0521 203 790, 0971 428 2 73, Eulogio Estigarribia and Dr. Jara, Gs. 10,000-25,000, Tues-Sat 11:30am-2:30pm, 7pm-12pm, Mon 7pm-12pm
To get to the center of Coronel Oviedo from Route 2 (coming from Asuncion) one turns North (left) at the crossroad with Route 8 known as the cruce just past the Parador La Nona and Hotel Bertea on the left. The center of town is about ten blocks away. If you pass the bus terminal on your right you’ve gone too far.
In addition to the recommended bus lines for Route 2 the Yvytyruzu bus is a good option for travel between Asuncion and Coronel Oviedo (this bus often continues to Villarrica). Note there are actually two terminals in Coronel Oviedo. The larger terminal along Route 2 just before the crossroads with Route 8 is serviced by national and international long distance buses heading to and from Ciudad del Este. From here you can catch buses heading south on Route 8 to Yataity, Colonial Independencia, and Villarrica or north to Santani (officially labeled on maps as San Estanislao). There are also several buses which head to the second bus terminal in town on the corner of Argana and Primero de Marzo. This smaller bus terminal is serviced by local buses from the surrounding rural communities. Local buses headed to the larger terminal and crossroads are usually labeled Cruce.
The Marcha al Este
Although now considered a major transportation hub within Eastern Paraguay Coronel Oviedo was not always so. Before the 1960’s Route 2 stretched east from Asuncion only as far as Coronel Oviedo and only the first half was paved. In 1955 the Marcha al Este (March to the East) road construction project was undertaken to give Paraguay access to the Atlantic Ocean by way of Brazil. Thus Route 7 was created, extending from Coronel Oviedo all the way to the Parana River and border with Brazil. According to General Pereira Ruiz Diaz, placed in charge of the project Paraguay pretty much ended at Coronel Oviedo with miles and miles of wilderness separating it from Brazil.
The Marcha al Este is undoubtedly one of Paraguay’s most important road construction projects. The road opened up the easternmost section of the country to a land rush. Drawn to the prospect of virgin land and new opportunities, enterprising people from all over the country moved to the wilderness to make new lives for themselves. These colonists weathered many hardships in the wild and had to wait many years for basic services such as running water. With the completion of the road in 1957 came the founding of Puerto Presidente Stroessner, now named Ciudad del Este. The Puente de la Amistad connecting Ciudad del Este to Brazil’s Foz do Iguafu was inaugurated in 1965 and construction of the Itaipu Hydroelectric Dam began in 1975.
The Marcha al Este project’s resulting population boom brought progress to the eastern departments of Caaguazu and Alto Parana (which today still has the country’s fastest growing population) but this progress had a severe impact on the area’s natural resources. In Guarani Caaguazu means large forest, in reference to what used to be the region’s primary natural resource. The region’s new inhabitants dedicated themselves in large part to logging, resulting in a rapid rate of deforestation which continues today as the remaining forests are felled to make way for farmland.
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