San Javier - A view from our expert author

Home of the rather odd New Israel sect, this village is now the main jumping-off point for ecotourism and birdwatching along the Río Uruguay.

As you enter the village on Artigas, the Sala Cultural Pobeda (‘Victory’ in Russian) is on the right just before the main crossroads with Calle Lubkov. The small Museo de los Inmigrantes is here, with interesting photos and documents of the Russian community; however, it may move to the former Cooperativa shop, just across Lubkov. Next to the Cooperativa on Artigas is the Galpón de Piedra (Stone Store), built without cement in 1914 when each family brought two cartloads of stone; it’s now the national park’s visitor centre (4569 2652). Alongside is the community’s flour and oil mill, built in similar style to the galpón but enlarged in concrete in 1945, and now abandoned. Beyond this is an area of parkland by the Río Uruguay, with a slipway and jetty. Turning left at the Prefectura on the Paseo de los Inmigrantes, you’ll see two tombs to the left under a large eucalyptus tree. These belong to Natalia Gregorivna Lubkova, Lubkov’s wife, and Maxim Lavrentievich Shevchenko, the group’s ‘apostle’.

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