Loma Plata is one of the three Mennonite colonies of the Chaco in Western Paraguay. Located 440 km (273 mi) northwest from Asunción it is surrounded by the desert-like environment characteristic to the central Chaco that creates a frontier-like cityscape in the town. Visitors to Loma Plata find a thriving industrial town with a rich historic heritage, some pristine nature reserves wihtin easy reach from town, and good lodging and eating facilities. All this in an affluent Mennonite community just off the desolate Transchaco highway.
Founded by German Mennonites in the 1920s, Loma Plata is the second largest of the Mennonite colonies of the Chaco after Filadelfia with a population of about 9,000 inhabitants. Like the rest of the Mennonite colonies the town is greatly influenced by the work of a cooperative, in this case the Chortitzer Cooperative, one of the largest in the Chaco which is, in turn, responsible for running most of the city services like the hospital, the main supermarket, the savings bank, the school, and many others, which are paid for by the profits from the cooperative.
A large fraction of its population descends from German Mennonites who immigrated from Canada in the 1927.
Most businesses are closed during lunchtime from 12:00 to 14:00, as well as on Saturday afternoons and Sundays.
- 1 Tourist Office, Avenida Central (situated to the left of the cooperative and to the right of the museum), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Run by the cooperative, the tourist information office is helpful and provides excellent travel info, maps and brochures. It can provide guided visits in English, German and Spanish to the cooperative industry plants, to the museum, and to historical and nature sites in the central Chaco.
The bus stop is on Avenida Central, the main street. Most buses then continue to Fildelfia. The main bus company serving the area is NASA, which also uses the name Golondrina.
- to Asunción 440 km (273 mi), ~10 hr, 3 buses per day (one overnight), ₲70,000
- to Filadelfia 21 km (13 mi), ~45 min, 1 bus per day, ₲10,000
- to Mariscal Estigarribia 101 km (63 mi), ~1½ hr, 2 buses per day, ₲15,000
Loma Plata is 24 km (15 mi) off the Transchaco Highway. Asunción is 440 km (273 mi) to the southeast, and the Bolivia border is 328 km (204 mi) to the northwest; travelling time to both sides is about 7 hours.
Avenida Central is the main street and most of the things relevant for the tourist are on this avenue between the two roundabouts.
- 1 Museo de la Colonia Menno (city museum), Avenida Central (next to the Chortitzer cooperative headquarters), ☏ . M-F 07:00-11:30. Created in 1977 the city museum of Loma Plata is informative, of historical type and it shows the emigration of the Mennonites out of Canada and into Paraguay. The process of the initial settlement in the Chaco, the hardships of the first years of colonization are excellently displayed through a very nice selection of photographs. The journey of the original scouting team that came from Manitoba (Canada) in 1921 receives special attention with vivid descriptions, photos, and even an original map presented to the early colonists. There is also a map detailing the initial route taken through the Chaco to reach the actual site of Loma Plata. Other photos depict different aspects of the early life in the Mennonite colonies from education to farming. free.
- 2 Planta Industrial Trébol (city industrial plant), Avenida Central (behind the museum). Guided visits only by appointment through the tourist office. The largest employer in the city is undoubtedly the Chortitzer cooperative, therefore a visit to its largest factory, a major industrial plant in Paraguay, that produces dairy products under the brand Trébol is an important city sight to be visited while in Loma Plata.
- 3 Parque Pioneros (city park), Alten Strasse (on the block behind the cooperative supermarket). The city park of Loma Plata which belongs to, as almost everything else in town, to the cooperative is a nice open space, centrally located, with lots of trees.
Out of town
There are some historical sites in the surroundings of Loma Plata that have been converted into open air museums related to the arrival of the Mennonites in the 1920s and succesive colonization of the area. There is also an important site (Isla Poí) from the Chaco War.
- 4 Campo esperanza (28 km (17 mi) east on the road to Fuerte Olimpo). Historic place of the first contact between Mennonite and indigenous people in 1921. Temporary camp of the Mennonites in 1927/8. It was a military hospital and control checkpoint during the Chaco War in 1932-35. Today there is a museum showing a big barn and agriculture equipment. A natural lagoon and self-guided paths.
- 5 Pozo Azul (59 km (37 mi) northeast on the road to Fuerte Olimpo). This was the first camp the early Mennonite pioneers established in the Chaco in 1927. A food deposit, a school, an agricultural experimental field, and a graveyard were built here. Today a monument, a water reservoir and a rest place for the convoys of wagons mark this camp.
- 6 Punta Riel (Kilómetro 145-Fred Engen station) (80 km (50 mi) northeast of Loma Plata on the road to Fuerte Olimpo). An old railroad station that belonged to Carlos Casado Company. It was operational until 1961 and was the only transportation link available to the Mennonites that had to transport all their crops and products on horse or oax carts to the railroad station Km 145. It is a place where the Mennonites from the different colonies and the Paraguayan authorities met each other. Today there are building restored, pictures and artifacts from the early colonial days.
- 7 Isla Poí (25 km (16 mi) southeast of Loma Plata). One of the best preserved historical sites from the Chaco War. Isla Poí was the seat of command of marshal José Félix Estigarribia, the paraguayan commanding general during the conflict. An open air museum with weaponry, the former military barracks, and photographs.
The 1 Expo Rodeo Trébol is the largest expo and rodeo event of the Chaco. It takes place annually in mid-August. There are approximately 150 exhibitors and more than 600 animals that come from the Mennonite cattle ranchs.
The main supermarket selling among others local produced - Chortitzer - products is on Avenida Central
- 1 Churrasquería Chaco's Grill, Avenida Manuel Gondra, ☏ . A popular all-you-can-eat restaurant specializing in brazilian style grilled meat. Wide selection of beef, salads, desserts.
- 2 Restaurante y Pizzería Bonanza, ☏ .
- 3 Restaurant Norteño, Bäcker Strasse, ☏ .
- 4 Restaurant La Delicia, Fred Engen Strasse, ☏ .
- 5 Rincón Sabroso, Avenida Central (adjoining the Ecop gas station, next to the Chortitzer supermarket), ☏ . Fast food place
- 6 Restaurant Jacare Hu, Acceso a Loma Plata (on the access road to town 5.5 km (3 mi) south), ☏ . A restaurant with good food and warm atmosphere.
- 7 Restaurant Meshin, Avenida Central, ☏ . Chinese food & sushi.
- 8 Pizzeria Chaco, Fred Engen and Firedhof Strasse, ☏ . Pizza place.
Loma Plata is not particularly known for its nightlife scene. The Mennonites are very hardworking people and after dark it seems that everyone goes to bed. However, there are some fast food and burger spots along Avenida Central offering cold beers and picadas, also the gas stations around town have convenience stores that sell spirits.
- TheBig5, on Avenida Central, ☏ . Snacks and burgers place. It has a selection of alcoholic/non-alcoholic drinks.
- 1 Lomiteria Wilaõ, on Avenida Central. Burgers, kebabs and fries. Have cold beers.
- 2 Lomiteria Guasu'í, on Calle Bella Vista near Avenida Central, ☏ . Burgers place. Have cold beers.
- 1 Hotel Loma Plata Inn, calle Eligio Ayala and Avenida Manuel Gondra (100 m from Avenida Central and the southern roundabout, close to the NASA bus office), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Generally agreed to be the nicest hotel in Loma Plata. Located at walking distance from bus stop. Good service, pleasant inside courtyard, spacious rooms. Wide breakfast selection. Wi-fi. Good restaurant on the premises. Single US$35; double US$45; triple US$55.
- 2 Hotel La Cascada, calle Fred Engen and Elim strasse (in a residential sector east of town. Follow calle Fred Engen east from the Trébol factory for 11 km (7 mi) until Elim strasse), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Formerly known as Hotel Palace. Clean rooms with air conditioning, cable TV. Breakfast included. Indoor pool. Parking.
- 3 Hotel Mora, calle Sandstrasse 803 (In a residential sector of town. Follow Avenida Central up to the northern roundabout, turn left 100 m to calle Primaria, then south for another 100m to where Fred Engen strasse opens to your left. Follow Fred Engen strasse for about 900 m until Sandtrasse opens to your left. Follow Sandstrasse for 300 m north to the hotel entrance.), ☏ . Run by the Swatzky family (German is their main language), the Hotel Mora is a good option for those who want to feel how is living in the outdoors of the Chaco, there is plenty of shade in the property. Rooms are spacious and spotless. This hotel is away from the town centre and those travelling on public transportation will need a taxi to get there. Single US$20; double US$30.
- 4 Hotel Algarrobo, calle Algarrobo, 100 m east of Avenida Central (in the southern edge of town; follow Avenida Central from the first roundabout, that is at the junction with Avenida Manuel Gondra, for 12 km (7 mi) to the south, past the Municipalidad building (you'll see it to your right) one block, that's calle Algarrobo, turn left 100 m), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. The typical, Mennonite style lodging of the central Chaco.
- 5 Hotel La Colonia, Acceso a Loma Plata (In the outskirts of town 4 km (2 mi) to the south.), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. New hotel, opened in 2017, is outside town to the south in the access road coming from the Transchaco. Clean and modern rooms. Good breakfast. Wi-fi. Single US$27; double US$38; triple US$55.
- 6 [dead link] Hospedaje Olimar, Natur strasse (at northern edge of town; at the northern roundabout, follow Avenida Central for 1.2 km (1 mi) to the north, Natur strasse is the last street before leaving the city towards Filadelfia; when you reach Natur strasse turn right, the hotel is 150 m to the east), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- 7 Hotel Parador Cruce Los Pioneros, Ruta Transchaco Km 410 (Located 37 km (23 mi) south of Loma Plata on the Transchaco.), ☏ . Located at an important crossroad of the Transchaco it is one of the few lodging places on the Transchaco. The adjoining restaurant and gas station is almost like a mandatory stop for truck drivers and almost everyone travelling along the highway.
Most hotels offer Wi-Fi for guests.
The other two Mennonite colonies are close and worth visiting:
- Filadelfia is 24 km (15 mi) to the east. The largest and most cosmopolitan of the Mennonite colonies is a charming city.
- Neuland - 53 km (33 mi) to the south. It's the smallest of the Mennonite colonies and a charming town close to historic sites full of relics of the Chaco War.
- Mariscal Estigarribia - 101 km (63 mi) to the northwest. The site of a large military airbase and the last stop before continuing to more remote areas of the central and northern Chaco.
If you want to go to Bolivia you will have to catch the Asunción-Bolivia bus at Mariscal Estigarribia. Take the bus to Filadelfia, and then to Mariscal Estigarribia. Ask the driver to drop you off at the immigration office. You will have to wait there for the bus from Asunción to Bolivia to come. Buses normally depart from Asunción daily at 20:00 and reach Mariscal Estigarribia around 03:00. You will have to pay for the entire journey from Asuncion and the cost is US$65 to Santa Cruz de la Sierra. When the bus arrives the immigration officer will check your passport and issue your exit stamp. Don't board the bus without doing this as there is no Paraguayan immigration at the border. Once you have boarded the bus you will travel for 6-7 hours before you arrive at Bolivian immigration.
|Routes through Loma Plata|
|Mariscal Estigarribia ←||NW SE||→ Asunción|