A guide to traveling across Uruguay
(from day trips to full weekend stays)
If there is one thing that we learned from the pandemic, it is how to be at home, perhaps much more than we would have liked. Some people have even reorganized their environment at home and switched around furniture to be able to be comfortable in their homes.
But now that the nicer days are coming, we have the possibility of escaping to new destinations. Obviously it’s not the moment to travel abroad, but it is the time to do internal tourism and believe us there are some incredible places right here in Uruguay.
The Wine Route
This year 18 Uruguayan vineyards came together to create The Wine Routes, a project that has the objective of people being able to “discover the vineyards and surprising landscapes and taste the best wines in the country.” Some are only half an hour from Montevideo—like Bodega Bouza, one of the 50 best in the world— and others like Viña Edén and Campotinto which are several kilometers away. It’s a good plan to go with a group of friends (and a designated driver, obviously) and enjoy the qualities of Uruguayan wines.
The Ecoparque Tálice and the Geoparque Grutas del Palacio in the town of Flores are two of the interesting options for a day visit, above all as an activity with kids who are definitely going to be dazzled by the peacocks, llamas and camels in the ecopark. In terms of caves, the Grutas el Palacio gives the option of exploring ancient caves, looking at cave paintings, exploring beautiful landscapes of smaller and bigger hills, enjoying big lakes, streams and rivers and admiring a geological site that extends for over one kilometer. The trip from Montevideo is about three hours.
Imagen gentileza de Ecoparque Tálice
Imagen gentileza de Ecoparque Tálice
Montevideo from a tourist perspective
For people from Montevideo it may be difficult to appreciate the beauty of the capital, particularly because it is so accessible. But the truth is that people generally move around on the same streets and visit the same places. So, it’s a question of looking at the city with new eyes. For example, it is possible to set up an interesting excursion through Ciudad Vieja, visiting places like the Museo Romantico, the Museum of Decorative Art and the Cultural Center of Spain which are just a few blocks from one another.
What to take…
If we are going on a day trip with a backpack it’s best to have one that is big enough to carry a jacket (considering how changing the climate is these days), a hat for the sun, sunscreen, a water bottle and something else. The torn and roma models are ideal for this: just as spacious as they are elegant.
Garzón is a small town in the east of Uruguay that is frozen in time, an enclave of tradition and nostalgia. With a population of only 200, it is a place that was relatively forgotten when the chef Francis Mallmann decided to open the Hotel y Restaurante Garzón and since then the culinary and lodging alternatives have flourished. It is the perfect place for people looking for calm, even though there are several activities nearby such as visiting the Garzón winery, the lake with the same name and one of the five art galleries that can be found in the town. It is located at the boundary of Maldonado and Rocha, 30 minutes from Jose Ignacio and two and a half hours from Montevideo.
For us Solis has a unique magic. It is the beach town where we have vacationed all of our lives. It’s difficult to put into words what about it is so special, but we believe that anyone who has visited it will know what we are talking about. It has beautiful, rustic beaches–you only have to get around some of the piles of rock fragments. It also has a large variety of places to stay, from campgrounds to beach houses, as well as an interesting culinary offering (one of our recommendations is an armenian restaurant called Garní). The excursion that cannot be missed: walk along the beach from one side to the other, from Bella Vista to the mouth of the Solis stream into the River Plate. And if you do this walk at sunset, even better.
Going to Colonia del Sacramento is a classic, and for that reason we suggest going a little off the beaten path to Carmelo, one hour away from the capital. There is also a historic quarter to explore (with a museum and culture center), wineries to visit and restaurants for the lovers of good cuisine. At the Seré beach a refreshing riverbath is also an option.
What to take…
For a one-night escape, our preference is the Bonan handbag. In this handbag you will be able to comfortably pack a pair of pajamas, a change of clothes and a jacket. You can also complement this with something smaller like the Mai fanny pack so that you can go out and explore with only the essentials.
More than two nights
Sierras de Rocha
In the Sierras de Rocha (Mountains of Rocha) there is an interesting travel proposal which is from Ambá, an NGO that works toward conservation, promotion and raising awareness of the value of the natural environment where there are over 130 species of birds and over 20 species of mammals. In these mountains you can see examples of native wildlife such as the guazuvirá (brocket deer), zorros (foxes) or tatú (armadillo). Ambá has several ecotourism activities such as trekking, identifying native flora and birdwatching.
Valle del Lunarejo
The protected valley area of Valle del Lunarejo is in the extreme northwest of the department of Rivera very close to Artigas and Salto on the border with Brazil. As with the Sierras de Rocha mountain area it is a perfect option for those who enjoy nature and outdoor activities with many options for trekking in different hills and ravines.
Oceanía del Polonio
It would almost seem like the coast of Rocha is completely discovered, explored. And yet, in this department there is a beach town that has remained relatively far away from the tourist takeover. And no, we aren’t talking about Cabo Polonio. We are talking about Oceanía del Polonio, a peaceful place that combines farmland with amazing beaches. They are amazing but are also a little dangerous. There aren’t many lodging options but there are nice houses to rent. Recommendations: travel in a car and take provisions; in the entire beachtown there is not even one convenience store.
What to take…
As our locations for more than two nights are very adventurous, we recommend the bango bag. It is very big and roomy. Because it is made of canvas you don’t have to worry about it getting wet or washing it. To go trekking you can take one of our mini backpacks like the roma.
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