To the South of Paraguay are the most famous Jesuit missions in Latin America. In total, there are seven. Two of them are part of the Universal Heritage Site by the UNESCO. These being the Santisima Trinidad del Paraná and the Jesus Tavarangue Jesuit missions, both near to Encarnación.
Encarnación is a small town that can be covered in one day. I arrived in the evening from Asunción, spent the next day visiting the missions and the next morning was back in Ciudad del Este.
One or two nights in Encarnación are more than enough.
How to arrive?
Encarnación is also a border town, also its location is very central. You can reach by bus from any town in Argentina or Paraguay Interior (Ciudad del Este – Asunción).
I took the bus from Asunción by La Encarnacena company. Only three departure times; 8:30 – 12:00 to 17:00. (85,000 Guarani). The Journey takes about 5 hours and 30 minutes.
What to do?
- Walk along the shore.
The new Shore of Encarnación is the main attraction of the city. By creating the beach of San Jose, on the Paraná river, Paraguay’s tourism is directed to this city. Don’t miss the sunset in this place, and the two remaining old buildings of the old city area. The silo and mill of San Jose.
- Missions Jesuits
From the Encarnación bus station, you can take a bus to the missions. The first to visit is the Trinidad, the bus (10,000 Guarani) leaves you in the town road. A 15-minute walk along the main road will take you to the missions.
There is a reception where you pay the entrance to the two missions (Trinidad and Jesús). In this place, there are toilets and computer with internet connection.
The place is so calm and quiet. It is impossible not to feel at peace with the silence of the place. I highly recommend it.
Close to the entrance there is a restaurant. You can have something to eat there. You hardly find another place where to eat in this town.
To visit the Jesus mission, you can take a motorcycle-taxi in front of the reception or out again on the main road and get a taxi. Neither option is very cheap. You can combine with other visitors to share the value. I took the motorcycle-taxi (90,000 Guarani). They take you to the missions, wait for you (combine this before boarding because some taxi drivers don’t wait for you), and bring you back to Trinidad.
There are other missions in the state of Itapúa that are worth exploring, however, they are much further Encarnación. I was unable to visit them.
- Center and Encarnación Market.
You can take a walk through the city center, visit the square of Weapons, The Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación church. If you still have time go to the market where you can try typical food of Paraguay.
Where to stay?
In Encarnación, I stayed one night at Kerana hostel and did CouchSurfing the other one.
The prices at the hostel are affordable, with breakfast included. Beds are not bunk beds and are very comfortable. It is close to the shore and the bus terminal. I highly recommend it.