Encarnación is a short jaunt on a local bus across the river from Posadas, Argentina. A shopping destination for many Argentines (availing of the lower taxes and prices), Encarnación is a pleasant, modern and relaxed city. The Jesuit Missions of La Santisima Trinidad de Parana and Jesus de Tavarangue near Encarnación are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Frequent buses from:
- Ciudad del Este stopping at all towns including Trinidad for the Jesuit Mission take about 6 hours and 11.5 US$
- Asuncion take about 7h and 12.5 US$ and pass by in San Ignacio Guazú (3h, 6 US$)
- Posadas in Argentina Local buses labelled "Internacional", white in colour, depart from several stops in Posadas' centre, all along Calle Entre Rios. They leave regularly, about two per hour. Tickets are 6 Pesos. The bus will drop you off at the Argentinian passport office, and wait for you to re-board. It will cross the bridge, then leave you at the Paraguayan passport office. Unless you are quick, the bus will move on without you, but you can wait and catch the next one (keep your ticket stub!) instead of paying the exorbitant taxi fees. Bus will drop you at the terminal in Encarnación.
Encarnación is fairly compact, in as much as there isn't a lot to see outside the easily walkable centre. Buses are relatively frequent (except on Sunday) but generally don't go anywhere that most travelers would want to see. There are several taxi stands near the plaza and the bus station, should you wish to go further afield.
Spanish is widely spoken in Encarnación. You may hear some Guaraní, but it is far more common in rural areas. If you only speak English you may have some issues.
- Carnaval, Encarnación hosts Paraguay's most famous Carnaval celebrations in January and February.
- Orthodox Church, notable for its Cyrillic inscriptions.
- Jesuit Missions, Trinidad. The Jesuit missions near Encarnación are some of the most important and impressive in Paraguay. El Ruta Jesuita is just about the only nationally organised Paraguayan tourist activity, so reaching them is easy. Taking any bus going north, you can get off at Trinidad, a small village. Tickets are 7,000 Gs. per person. Locals will happily shout "Ruinas!" as you approach; return buses are caught from the shelter across the road from where you disembark at a crossroads. The road to the right leads you to Trinidad, the Jesuit capital, and the ticket office. It is a 5 minute walk. Your 25,000 Gs. ticket is valid for three days, and gets you in to all three ruins near Encarnación. Trinidad has a small museum. Jesús is down the left hand road from the crossroads, but it is 10km away. You can rent a bike at the Ruinas hotel (right beside the Trinidad ruins), or take a moto-taxi for 30,000 (try to share - they can carry four people). The ruins are well worth a visit; bring lunch and enjoy it in the old Plaza Mejor. 25,000 Gs..
- The Beach, End of Curupayty, along the river. The small, artificial beach in Encarnación is surprisingly pleasant. You can stretch out in the sun and soak up the rays, imagining you are at the coast; there is a slight breeze, and the river is wide. You can even go for a dip - apparently it is quite clean and safe. OK for the kids too, as it is not very deep. Yellow buoys seperate bathers from jet-skis and boats. It is far more lively during the Summer and Carnaval. Free.
Unless you're going to Ciudad del Este, the cheapest place to buy just about anything, Encarnación would be a good spot to pick up consumer goods, especially electronics. Lower taxes and consequently lower prices than Argentina. You can find many things to buy in the Nuevo Circuito.
- Hiroshima Grill, Corner 25 de Mayo and Lomas Valentinas (Enter through the car park), ☎ (071)206288. Opens 19:00, 20:00 some nights. Great Japanese food. Good value set meals. Mains 20,000 - 90,000, mostly around 50,000. Sushi is quite cheap. Looks a little spartan, but the food and service are good.
- Karumbé, Mariscal Estigarribia (Opposite the Plaza). Open all day, so don't worry if you aren't used to siesta. Large portions. Mains 30,000 - 100,000. Burgers and lomitos 12,000 - 20,000. Good service and nice surroundings; WiFi available. "Cesars salad" is nothing like a Caesar salad, but it is recommended.
Cold beers available pretty much anywhere.
- Hotel Parana, Mcal. Estigarribia 1414 (Just beyond the plaza, coming from the bus station side of town), ☎ (071) 206334. A really good option, steps away from the plaza. Supermarket just down the street, ice cream shop across the road, Karumbé restaurant 20 seconds walk, ATMs around the corner. Nice bread, jam and fresh coffee and fruit juice for breakfast - served by a man in a tux! Hotel is clean and in good condition; some rooms could do with painting, but they are by no means dirty. Staff are helpful, and rather sweet - one was amazed to have foreign guests that spoke some Spanish. Rooms have WiFi (router upstairs, cleverly) and TV. 100,000 for double with fan; rooms are available with fridges and air con.
- Hotel Itapua, Calle Carlos A. Lopez (Right around the corner from the bus station.). Overpriced, grotty, slightly smelly hotel. Their worst double rooms are 80,000; slightly better, but still poor, double rooms are available for 100,000. Many better options around.
- Hotel Germano, Gral. Cabanas No. 488 (Directly opposite the bus station), ☎ (071) 203346. Cheapest beds in town, if you get the "economica" rooms. Clean place, welcoming staff. Economicas: 50,000 single, 70,000 twin. Normal rooms: 80,000 single, 100,000 double, 120,000 twin.
- Hotel Cristal, Mcal. Estigarribia 1157 (with Cerro Corá, in the centre), ☎ +595 71 202 371. It's a hotel that has seen its best days, but it's still not bad. A little overpriced for the quality perhaps, but the lady working there is really lovely. 150,000 for a double(TV, incl. breakfast).
- De la Costa Hotel, Avda. Rodriguez de Francia No. 1240 c/ Cerro Cora. Very expensive for Paraguay, but also a very, very up-market hotel. Air-con, WiFi, television, fridge. Nice building, and close to the "beach". Friendly, English speaking staff. 174,000 for a single, 348,000 for a double
Buses from the Terminal de Omnibus go to Ciudad del Este and Asuncion, and many less well known destinations. International buses go to Buenos Aires, and some into Brazil. Always buy your ticket in the offices, not from the guys outside. Some of them are genuine, but others will overcharge or sell tickets for non-existent buses. La Encarnacena have the best buses going to Asuncion - some even have 3G WiFi on board! 6 hours to Asuncion.