Off the beaten track in South America – Uruguay
Sandwiched between its two larger neighbors (Argentina and Brazil), Uruguay is a 3.3 million strong country on the Eastern Coast of South America. It is one of the smallest countries on the continent. Uruguay is often overlooked by tourists, especially the non-American ones that focus more on Brazil or Argentina, rather than on this tiny land. But Uruguay has a lot to show the world, as we will see below.
The country has a long coast facing the Southern Atlantic. Many tourist hotspots are concentrated on the sea-shore. Uruguay’s prime beach destination is called Punta Del Este – one of the emerging hotspots of South America. The blue waters of the ocean, the sandy beaches, as well as the vibrant nightlife, make it the perfect place for a short relaxation pit-stop on your tour of Uruguay. Additionally, if you’re into unique wildlife, take a short boat trip to the Isla de Lobos (Isle of the Seals) – a small spec of land populated by sea lions.
A couple of hours drive to the west, the capital, Montevideo, awaits its visitors. The coastal town is the biggest in Uruguay and has a kind of Mediterranean feel to it. The beach and open lofts facing the Rio de la Plata estuary remind of the towns in Cyprus or the Southern Coast of France. The city has lots more to offer than sandy beaches – the Old Town, with its charming South American feel, the Parliament Building, with its elaborated decorations and amazing frescoes, the Fortaleza del Cerro, a 19th century fort overlooking the city, and, last but not least, the exotic parks of the city.
A definite must see while in Uruguay is Cabo Polonio. This small fishermen’s village located on the eastern coast of the country is permanently isolated from the outside world. It has no electricity or running water and can be only reached by trekking for 7 miles through enormous sand dunes. The trip is an extraordinary experience, as is spending one night in the fishing village without the perks of the modern world.
Finally, you should probably visit the most know tourist destination in Uruguay, the old town of Colonia. Situated in the west of the country, the city was founded by Spanish settlers in the 17th century (hence the name) and has managed to stay more or less intact in the past 400 years. Some of the houses and streets here are more than 300 years old, making for an interesting end point for your tour of Uruguay.