How To: Visit the Jesuit Missions in Paraguay

a little bit of Trinidad

So, you've spent a little time in Asunción or perhaps you've visited Ciudad del Este and now you're feeling that you'd like to check out the Jesuit missions since you've heard (rightly) that Paraguay's are exceptionally beautiful. How do you do this?

Option 1: Hire a private tour for $200USD a person.

Option 2: Decide that that's a bit steep and set forth on a slightly longer and much cheaper adventure.

So, from the terminal de omnibus in Asunción or CdE, take a bus to Encarnación. This runs between 45 and 60mil Guaraní ($9-$12) and the ride is usually about 6hrs. When you arrive at the bus terminal, you'll be offered taxis. If it's night, take one. If the sun's up, why not walk 10min to a hotel where you can leave your luggage and freshen up? Ask where "calle Estigarribia" is or ask someone where the "plaza" is. They'll point you towards Estigarribia, where after about 4 blocks in the direction of the plaza, you'll see Hotel Cristal. It's inexpensive (about $15-$20USD a person) and clean. No, I don't know the phone number and don't be surprised if they don't have a website. If you arrive in Encarnación in the late afternoon, why not tool around the city for dinner? I've heard that Trinidad has night visits, but I'm not sure of the details.

To get to the two best restored misiones, Trinidad and Jesus, go to the terminal de omnibus in Encarnación. Before you buy a ticket or even look at a bus, buy water. A good idea is to purchase a termo for tereré (the leather bound ones run about 150mil-- $30USD-- and come with bombilla and guampa), ask them to wash it for you and fill it with water (which you've purchased) and ice (which they have). Then pick up a little pack of yerba, fill up your guampa, and you're good to go.

You'll be walking or standing in the sun for hours. There will be no water. You should buy water. Go buy water now.

At the terminal, loaded with your water, find a bus to Ciudad del Este (i.e. a bus that goes up Ruta 6)--they leave about every half hour. A company like Yacyreta or Itapua Poty will work just fine. Don't go to the ticket window, where they'll charge you for the whole trip. Instead, go up to the bus or one of the guys yelling "Ciudad del Este" and say "si, para Trinidad." Or, just get on the bus directly without paying yet. These slightly cheaper buses will stop for half an hour on their way out of the city picking up passengers on almost every block.

At last! You're on the road. The ticket guy comes up to you and asks you "donde?" and you say "Trinidad" and he says "5mil" (which translates to $1 USD). Don't try paying with a 50mil or 100mil-- take out the ratty small bills and use those. About 40minutes after you've left the city, you'll get to Trinidad (remind the driver after you clear the city). This is what you'll see:

this sign looks like an ordinary billboard, but it signals the path to wonders

my brave parents stand firm on the empedrado

Follow that winding rock paved road up the hill for about half a mile and you'll see Trinidad. Admission right now is 5mil a person (yes, $1 USD) but they're planning on raising it to a whopping 25mil for foreigners (that'd be a mere $5 USD). Wander at your desire or hire a tour guide (you pay what you want... 30mil an hour seems about fine).

me in the arch of one of casas de los indios at Trinidad

Once you leave Trinidad and you're craving lunch, walk back down the empedrado (stone paved road) to Ruta 6. Across the street, you'll find a perfectly acceptable copetin where you can eat for 10mil ($2).

Getting to Jesus is a bit trickier. Walk down Ruta 6 to the gas station (about 200 meters). At that corner, ask for a taxi to Jesus. The banged up cars that double as taxis might not be there. Try the gas station, asking for a taxi or the colectivo (local bus) to Jesus. You may have to wait a bit. We payed a dude 50mil (10 USD) to take us up to Jesus, wait there for 30 minutes while we walked around, and then drive us back down. Had the colectivos been running (the road was being asphalted that day and so the buses weren't going up the hill), we would've done that and spent more time at Jesus and spent about 5mil per person for the ride.

door to the main church at Jesus

This is not a walkable distance, from Ruta 6 to Jesus is a 12km (7.456 miles) walk up a hill on asphalt in the hot sun with you carrying your water.

To get back to Encarnación, wait in front of the taxi stand on Ruta 6 with the crowd of locals that's also gathered to catch whatever bus comes by. Again, price for standing on a crowded bus for 30 minutes is 5mil.

more Jesus

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2 Responses to How To: Visit the Jesuit Missions in Paraguay

private bus services said...

your site is very nice, very useful for me , i bookmarked your blog

Robert said...

Thanks for the info Christine. Your site convinced me to visit both Jesús and Trinidad today and did not regret it.

For other travellers who may stumble upond this site: admission to the ruins is indeed now 25,000 Guaraní (a little over 5 US$) but that grants you access to both Trinidad and Jesús as well as a third site (San Cosme) where I have not been either.

The paved road to Jesús is also finished and there is sort of a regular bus service between Ruta 6 and Jesús (5,000 Guaraní/1 US$ each way).

I did the visit coming on an overnight bus from Buenos Aires arriving at Posadas around 8 AM, then on to Encarnación, Trinidad and Jesús and back to Posadas the same way and on to San Ignacio - so yes, all that is possible in one day (albeit a very full one with not much time for lunch breaks, just enough time to buy water :-))


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