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(Altitude: 175 m / 613 ft, Population: 22,300, Phone Code: 03751)

Not too far between Posadas and Puerto Iguazú, there is a small town brimming with things to see and do: Montecarlo. Founded in 1911 by immigrants from Germany, Poland, Switzerland and Central European countries, this village is set amid a landscape of yerba mate and tea plantations. The great green fever of mate cultivation even drew Paraguayans and Argentines, including the Guevara-de la Serna family, whose eldest son, Ernesto (Che), spent his infancy here.

Montecarlo stretches 8.1 kilometers (5 mi) along Avenida Libertador, from Ruta Nacional 12 to the Paraná River. The centerpiece of town is Plaza San Martín, 4.5 kilometers (2.8 mi) off the highway. The main boulevard ends at the Club de Pesca (Tel.: 48-0022. Entry: $0.80), where you can not only fish, but also take a boat out to Parque Provincial Isla Caraguatay. There are hiking trails on the island (dusk-dawn. Entry: free).

Montecarlo is the capital of the Región de la Flores (Region of Flowers), a well-deserved title. Every year it celebrates the Fiesta Naciomal de la Orquídea y Fiesta Provincial de la Flor (mid-September-beginning of October, depending on the year). Thousands of visitors come to town, and the few hotel rooms are booked months in advance. Dozens of viveros (green houses) and orquidearios (orchid nurseries) open their doors to visitors year-round, charging about $1.50. Visit Catesetum (Calle Carlos Britzius s/n, Tel.: 1566-9669 / 48-2321) and Orquideario de Rita Franke, which has the most diverse collection of species (Avenida Libertador 3179, Tel.: 48-0195). The Centro de Informes Turísticos has a list of greenhouses.

Another way to get lost in the exuberant vegetation is to wander in the Laberinto Vegetal in Parque Juan Vortisch. This labyrinth, constructed of ligustrina, covers 3.1 square meters, making it the largest in South America (Tuesday-Sunday 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Martín Lutero, about 1 km / 0.6 mi east of Avenida Libertador, 6 km / 3.6 mi west of Ruta Nacional 12, Tel.: 48-0404. Entry: adults $0.70, children $0.25).

The Montecarlo area continues to be a major yerba mate producer. The processing of the herb can be seen at Molina de la Cooperativa Agrícola Mixta, whose major brand is Aguantadora, in the center of town (Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-6 p.m. F Quiroga, half-block north of Avenida Libertador. Entry: free, free package of samples given at end of tour).

The region's fauna can also be appreciated at Zoo-Bal-Park (daily 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Ruta Nacional 12, 1 km / 0.6 mi north of the rotonda. Entry: adults $1.40, children $0.80). The Aquarium Montecarlo features the native fish of the Río Paraná (winter: daily 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., summer: daily 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Eras Geológicas, 1 block west of Ruta Nacional 12, Tel.: 48-2196, E-mail: /, URL: Entry: adults $3, children $1.50). Montecarlo's other fairs center on its other important economy, cattle: Fiesta Provincial del Ganadero (August), Fiesta Provincial del Ternero (February) and the rodeo events of the Gran Jineteada Provincial (mid-December).

If the rains drive you indoors, then check out Montecarlo's museums, which charge a nominal fee (adults $1.50, children $0.75):

  • Museo Huellas del Pasado (Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-noon, 3-6 p.m., closed Tuesday afternoons. Avenida Libertador and F Quiroga, Tel.: 48-0287) - traces the footsteps of the past, from the original indigenous inhabitants to the European immigrants.
  • Museo del Agricultor (Friday, Saturday 5-8 p.m. Naujorks, between Paraguay and Libertador, Tel.: 48-0582) - The Juventud Cooperativista shows off old farm implements dating from the early 20th Century.
  • Museo Martínez Alva (Thursday-Saturday 9 a.m.-noon, 1-6 p.m. Martínez Anva, 100 m / 325 ft off Martín Lutero, Tel.: 48-1349, E-mail: / - part of the Complejo Turístico Integral Loma Alta, this museum preserves items of the farm's farmer, and has an orquideario of native species and nature trails.

Among the many families drawn to the region during the yerba mate boom of the 1910-1920s was the Guevara - de la Serna, parents of Ernesto "Che" Guevara. Just outside of Caraguatay, seven kilometers (4.2 mi) west of Montecarlo, the Parque Provincial Che Guevara, preserves 22 hectares of the old plantation. A museum describes the infancy of Che here and his life's work. A 160-meter (520-ft) trail leads to the ruins on a hillock overlooking the Río Paraná. The park also protects stands of native cañafistula (golden shower tree), guayabira (ironwood) and higuerón (short-leaf fig) forest woven with giant bamboo and vines. Frequently seen birds include the Solitary and Red-rumped cacique, Red-breasted Toucan, Reddish-bellied Parakeet, and woodpeckers. Mammals include agouti, crab-eating raccoons, and deer. Camping is allowed near the center, though there are no facilities or provisions (free, daily 8 a.m.-dusk. URL: Entry: free). Capilla Santa Rita is two kilometers (1.2 mi) down the road to the old homestead; every May 22 a pilgrimage occurs. There are opportunities for birdwatching, horseback riding and other nature activities in the jungle around Caraguatay.

On your way to or from Posadas, stop off for a cold pint of homebrewed beer at Cerveza Artesanal Von Hafen in Puerto Rico, 47 kilometers (28 mi) west of Montecarlo (Ruta Nacional 12 and Pío XII, Tel.: 03743-1545-1613).


Montecarlo has basic services. Businesses are located along Avenida Libertador.

  • Centro de Información Turística - friendly, though woefully understaffed (Ruta Nacional 12 and Avenida Libertador, Tel.: 48-1700, URL:
  • Police (Libertador 62, Tel.: 48-0100)
  • Banks with ATMs: Macro (Libertador 2599), de la Nacióm (Libertador 1911)
  • Post Office (Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-noon, 4-7 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-noon. Libertador and Andresito),
  • Hospital Montecarlo (Andresito 261, Tel.: 48-0020)


  • Montur (Libertador 2050, Tel.: 48-0128 / 48-1379, E-mail: - city tours, ticket sales
  • Establecimiento Caraguatay (Ruta Provincial 212, Caraguatay, Tel.: 03751-49-4025, E-mail:, URL: - horseback riding, hiking trails, birdwatching
  • Asesoramientos Turísticos Misiones (Ruta Nacional 12, Km 1510, Caraguatay, E-mail:


There are several campgrounds in Montecarlo:

  • Camping Itá Porá (Ruta Nacional 12, Km 1527, Tel.: 48-0645) - open all year; pool, provisions, bathhouse, fire pits, water; also cabañas with kitchen; camping: $2.25, children $0.80
  • Camping Los Chila (Barrio San Luis, Ruta Nacional 12, Tel.: 48-1512) open summer only; bathhouse, provisions, electricity; adults $1.50, children $0.80


  • Residencial Las Colinas (Ruta Nacional 12 and Rotonda, Tel.: 48-1104) - 1 person $9, 2 people $18
  • Hostería Helvecia (Libertador 2882, Tel.: 48-0028) - 1 person $24, 2 people $27-34
  • Terrazas ApartHotel (Libertador and Río Paraná, 8.1 km / 5 mi off highway, Tel.: 48-7829, URL: - low season $34-107, high season $57-128

In Caraguatay:

La Misionerita (Ruta Nacional 12, Km 1510, Tel.: 03751-1540-0126, E-mail: /, URL: - Open all year; camping ($2.25 per person); also cabañas and dormis (2-5 persons)


In Montecarlo, few restaurants are located in town itself. Most are along the highway.

  • La Posta (Ruta Nacional 12 and Rotonda, Tel.: 03755-1554-8138)
  • Calabrone (Avenida Libertador, in front of the plaza, Tel.: 48-1631)
  • Elión (Avenida Libertador and Urquiza, Tel.: 48-2149)

There are several supermarkets on Avenida Libertador.


Other places nearby Montecarlo: El Soberbio , Oberá, Posadas and San Ignacio.

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

07 May 2010

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