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What would happen if you took people from all over the world and put them in a crease of the Sierra Central of Argentina's northern-most corner? The result would probably be Oberá, Misiones' second largest city and an important commercial center.

Long ago known as Yerbal Viejo, this area was a center for smuggling. Its path toward legitimacy began just before Christmas, 1913, when the Swedish-Brazilian Kallsten family arrived. Soon thereafter, others came, from the Nordic countries and the Mediterranean nations; from Central Europe and Japan. Brazilians, Paraguayans and Argentines added themselves to this melting pot in the midst of the Paranaense jungle, to become Obereños. The town was officially founded July 9, 1928, and called Oberá, a Guaraní word that means "that which shines."

For 10 days every September, the ethnic groups showcase their cultures at the Fiesta Nacional del Inmigrante held in Parque de las Naciones (Ucrania and Ruta Nacional 14; urbano number 7). Ancestral dance and music are performed; a queen and her court of princesses are elected. Food is served at the traditional-styled houses of each group. During the rest of the year, the park is more tranquil. The houses are closed, except for special celebrations. The Museo Histórico y de Historia Natural is open, displaying information on each immigrant group, costumes and native fauna (Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 1-7 p.m.; weekends and holidays 9 a.m.-1 p.m., 3-7 p.m. Tel.: 40-6847. Entry: free).

Oberá's ethnic diversity, though, is evident every day of the year. Down the center of the broad boulevards Avenidas Sarmiento and Libertad are shady plazoletas, small plazas dedicated to the different nationalities and historical personages. Many have sculptures done by local artists in residence at the University's Facultad de Artes. Plaza San Martín is a terraced brick and stone square with ceramic-tile murals of Liberator San Martín's life (Santa Fe and 9 de Julio). In the spiritual realm are over 50 churching representing Roman Catholic, Orthodox Christian and many Protestant sects. Some yet celebrate services in the native languages of the immigrants. The most astounding of the temples is Iglesia Inmaculada Concepción de la Virgen María. This Byzantine-Ukranian church is round and surrounded by a portico (Ucrania 201).

Oberá offers much more to the casual visitor. The Jardín de los Pájaros exhibits the rich bird diversity in this region (daily 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Italia 470, Tel.: 42-1808 / 40-7023. Entry: Adults $0.80, children to 12 years old $0.60). The Centro Zootoxicológico has guided tours of its collection of native and exotic reptiles (including a Mississippi alligator) and of its laboratories where it makes antivenoms (Monday-Friday 1-5 p.m., Sunday and holidays 1:30-5 p.m. Avenida de los Inmigrantes and La Paz, city bus no. 3, Tel.: 40-2552, E-mail: Entry: $1.40). Several kilometers away is Complejo Salto Berronda. In this municipal park, where a 12-meter (39-ft) high waterfall cascades into a pool, are swimming holes, hiking trails and camping (Ruta 103, 8 km / 4.8 mi from downtown, urbano no. 3, Tel.: 42-1808 / 40-1808, E-mail: Park entry: $1.40).

Agro-tourism is another interesting activity. Chacra Suiza is an organic farm with hiking trails, waterfalls and homemade Swiss food (Avenida Don Bosco, off Ruta Provincial 5, Tel.: 42-6944). Jardín de la Nona, founded by an Italian family, is a cattle ranch set amid a yerba mate plantation (Avenida Don Bosco and ex Ruta Provincial 103, Tel.: 42-3258). Visits to either require advance reservation; both charge an entry fee.

After a day of hiking, soak in Termas de la Selva. These hot springs are filled with 47ºC (117ºF) mineral-rich water (Tel.: 42-1808). On Saturday evenings you can catch the latest Argentine movies at Cine Teatro Oberá (9 p.m. San Martín, between Buenos Aires and Córdoba, Tel.: 40-8625. Entry: $1.40-2.20). Every August this is the venue for Oberá en Cortos, an international short film festival.

Day trips may be made to towns along Ruta Nacional 14. Campo Viera (21 km / 12.6 mi), in the heart of the tea-growing region, is the setting for the Fiesta Nacional del Té every February. Near Aristóbulo del Valle is Parque Provincial Salto Encantado (60 km / 36 mi northeast on Ruta Nacional 14; public transportation. Entry: free). This 20,000-hectare reserve within Cuña Pirú Valley highlights waterfalls Encantado (60 m / 195 ft high), La Olla (15 m / 49 ft), Escondido, Acutí and Picaflor. Interpretive trails lead to viewpoints and pools. Besides dozens of bird species (which make observing them great sport), the park is home to jaguar, deer and wild boar. Parque Provincial Salto Encantado has a ranger station, camping, bathhouse, fire pits, electricity and provisions shop. Several luxury inns also provide lodging to travelers, like Cuña Pirú Lodge (Ruta Provincial 220, Tel.: 03755-47-0171, E-mail:, URL: and Tacuapí Lodge (Ruta Nacional, Tel.: 03743-42-0335, E-mail:, URL:

The weather is quite tropical in Oberá, with temperatures reaching to 33ºC (91ºF) or higher in summer and 10ºC (50ºF) in winter. Rains are frequent. That isn't to say, though, that this town is any stranger to the white stuff. On July 20, 1965, its citizens awoke to a thick blanket of snow covering the landscape.


Being Misiones Province's second largest city, Oberá has all services. Many are on Avenidas Libertad and Sarmiento. The friendly municipal Dirección of Turismo has good information on the city and a map (Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-7 p.m., weekends and holidays 8 a.m.-noon, 3-7 p.m. Avenida Libertad 90, Plazoleta Güemes, Tel.: 42-1808, E-mail:, URL: The Policía Turística also gives tourism information (Ruta Nacional 14 and Ruta Provincial 5, Parque de las Naciones, Tel.: 45-3007). Other services are police (V. Marambio s/n, Tel.: 42-6200), Gendarmería Nacional (Avenida Libertad 929, Tel.: 42-1275), ACA (Avenida Sarmiento and San Luis, Tel.: 42-1205); all banks have ATMs: Banco de la Nación (Sarmiento 805), Macro (Sarmiento 878), Francés / BBVA (Sarmiento 950); Correo (Santa Fe and San Martín), locutorio phone centers and internet cafés; Hospital Oberá (PF Ameghino s/n, Tel.: 42-1226), pharmacies; laundries and camera shops.

Many countries have consulates in Oberá: Finland (Tucumán 556, Tel.: 40-8945), Nordic nations (Ucrania and Ruta 14, Tel.: 40-4807), Poland (Ucrania 734, Tel.: 40-3733), Russia (Córdoba and San Martín, Tel.: 42-1954), Sweden (9 de Julio 776, Tel.: 42-1898), Ukrania (Rauch 55, Tel.: 40-2140). Other nations have their consulates in Posadas.


Tinaja (Jujuy 53, Tel.: 42-3731, E-mail:, URL: -- wood, weavings, ceramics and other crafts

Feria de Artesanos (weekends. Avenida Libertad, Plazoleta Güemes) -- artisan fair

Feria Franca (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday. Plazoleta Uruguay, Barrio KLrausse) -- farmers market

Polaco Golik (9 de Julio 1153, Tel.: 40-3862) -- fishing gear


Transit 21 Viajes y Turismo (Sarmiento 145, Tel.: 40-2121, E-mail:, URL: -- tours to Saltos de Moconá, Jesuit ruins, Iguazú, Esteros del Iberá and agro-tourism


Residencial Real (Barreyro 816, Tel.: 42-1331) -- 1 person $11, 2 persons $17

Vito I (Corrientes 56, Tel.: 42-1892) -- 1 person $22, 2 persons $34, includes breakfast

Cabañas del Parque (Ucrania and Tronador, Tel.: 42-6000, E-mail: -- 1 person $45-100, 2 persons $65-100; high season: 1 person $54-120, 2 persons $78-120

Camping at Complejo Salto Berrondo (Ruta Provincial 103, 8 km from Oberá, city bus No 3; Tel.: 40-1808) -- Entry $1.40 (one time), plus $2.80 per tent per day; also Agro Camping Santa Rita (Ruta Nacioal 14, Km 12, 4 km / 2.4 mi from Oberá, Tel.: 1569-0986)


Francesco II Pizzaría (Corrientes 47, Tel.: 42-3152)

Moscow (Sarmiento 980, Tel.: 42-7487)

Del Monte Restaurant Bar (Costa Rica 334, Tel.: 42-8303, E-mail:, URL:

(Altitude: 298 m / 969 ft, Population: 55,000, Phone Code: 03755)


Other places nearby Oberá: Montecarlo, El Soberbio , 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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