The brainchild of Swiss couple Christine and Hanz Hostettler, PROCOSARA is an NGO set up for the protection of San Rafael. Since arriving in San Rafael over twenty years ago the Hostelttler’s have witnessed the rapid destruction of the Atlantic Forest surrounding their land – don’t miss the chance to talk with them about their experience with the many obstacles that face nature conservation efforts in Paraguay. Visitors can swim in the man-made lake created to generate electricity and walk along three trails leading into the first growth forest where birds, monkeys, and enormous tree ferns abound. Lodging options include two cute and clean wood cabins with private rooms as well as camping facilities. Full room and board is recommended as there are no nearby options and Christine’s cooking is excellent. Tel: 0768 295 046 (Christine Hostettler o Celia Garayo), there is no direct public transportation to the PROCOSARA lodge. Visitors should take a Beato Roque Gonzalez bus to Caronay or Cruce Ynambu from the Encarnacion bus terminal (buses leave at 8am and 11:30), having already arranged for PROCOSARA to meet them to go the rest of the way. Expect a long, dusty, bumpy ride. Be sure to ask the bus driver to let you know where to get off (and remind him). You can also coordinate with PROCOSARA to be picked up from further out such as Encarnacion. This adds significantly to the cost of the trip out but may be worth it for those who do not want to deal with the bus. Those in private vehicles should note after rain the dirt roads are often only passable with four wheel drive. Gs. 110,000 per person with full board meals; Gs. 20,000 camping per tent, meals separate. Peace Corps Volunteers are often allowed to
camp for free. Lake, campgrounds, walking trails.
Guyra Kanguery Birding Station
The Guyra Reta Nature Reserve offers visitors the chance to see a number of birds both in the grasslands below the Kanguery birding station and the forests to its side. There are nature trails that wind their way through the forest along the edge of a flowing creek and you can even climb up through the hollowed out trunk of an enormous tree to a small observation stand up top. While Procosara is more comfortable, avid birders may prefer Guyra’s lodge due to the expertise of their guides. There are no options nearby for purchasing food but those on a budget can consult Guyra about preparing food in the field station kitchen. Reservations must be made through Guyra Paraguay’s main office in Asuncion (see Guided Tours). Tel: 021 223 567, 0981 866 383, there is no public transportation to the station. Visitors should take a Beato Roque Gonzalez bus to Potrero from the Encarnacion bus terminal (buses leave at 8am and 11:30), having previously arranged for Kanguery park guards to transport them the rest of the way (Gs. 65,000). Guyra can arrange for private transportation from Encarnacion or other points along Route 6, as well as organize an excursion from Asuncion. www.guyra.org.py,firstname.lastname@example.org, Dorm rooms Gs.
70,000 per person, camping Gs. 30,000, park day pass Gs. 15,000, nature trails Santiago
In 1669 the mission of San Ignacio de Caaguazu, located to the north on the edges of the Apa River was forced to relocate (see Missions Under Attack) and chose present day Santiago as its new home. The mission was renamed Santiago and grew to a size of 3,000 inhabitants. Remnants of the town’s Jesuit past include many buildings surrounding an enormous shady plaza (the largest in the country) and the crumbling remains of the walls and foundation of the original church. Santiago’s Jesuit museum and church contain a number of large statues and rare examples of retablos, painted wooden tablets that adorned the church. In January the town plays host to two large scale cowboy festivals which draw visitors and participants from ranches in Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil. If you plan to attend it is best to stay in Ayolas as the few lodging options in Santiago (mostly private homes with small rooms for rent) are deluged with festival participants. Santiago is an easy day trip from Ayolas (thirty kilometers away) and San Ignacio (fifty kilometers away).
Museo Jesuitico de Santiago
Santiago’s Jesuit museum is located across from the main plaza where the mission’s church once stood. The deteriorating church was demolished in the 1920’s – to the side of the museum one can still see a few portions that remain of the church’s thick adobe walls. The museum has many sculptures, both small and large. The most evocative sculpture is of the Risen Christ wrapped in seemingly wind-swept robes that still shine with gold-leaf. Although they are displayed poorly in a small room to the side of the entrance, the painted retablos or wood panels are the museum’s most unique pieces. These beautifully decorated panels once stood in the church’s main altar and are adorned with angels, stars and even sheep. Next door the town church has a few sculptures as well, including a slightly gruesome statue of Santiago el Matamoro (St. James the Moor-killer) in action -some have suggested that in this case he is chasing after bandeirantes rather than Moors. The altar includes decorated panels painted with a baptismal theme. Like the painted panels in the museum these are a rarity amongst the surviving decorations of the missions. Tel: 0782 20211, Corner of Julia Cuendo de Estigarribia and Fulgencio Yegros, Mon-Sat 8am-11am, 2pm-5pm, Gs. 5,000
Festival Latinoamericano de la Doma y el Folklore
Held the first week in January this event draws upwards of 10,000 people. The festivities include parades, equestrian shows, horse taming showcases, traditional dances and music as well as massive amounts of asado a la estaca (over 2,300 kilos of meat were consumed in the 2010 festival) and other typical Misiones dishes. The festival is held at Estancia Tacuaty – and organized by Santiago based EMITUR dedicated to tourism in the Misiones department. www.emitur.com.py Fiesta de la Tradicion Misionera
Also in January is the Fiesta de la Tradicion Misionera held in the main plaza of Santiago and the Lion’s Club. The festival is similar to the Festival Latinoamericano de la Doma y el Folklore but has the advantage of being more easily accessible by public transportation.
Hotel Estancia Tacuaty Every January this large ranch is filled with cowboys from all over Paraguay coming to participate in the Festival Latinoamericano de la Doma y el Folklore. The rest of the year the estancia is a calm place to relax and enjoy the daily activities of large Paraguayan ranch, as well as fishing, horseback riding and swimming. Tel: 0782 202 86, 0975 626 780, approximately four kilometers from Route 1 along the turn off to San Ignacio and then 1.5 kilometers down a dirt road, www.emitur.com.py, Gs. 160,000 per person (full room and board), TV, A/C, pool
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