Written by Robert Raymond Ingledew on 05 Feb, 2007
Uruguayans call this area the Golden Coast. Whoever has seen a sunrise or a sunset on the River Plate will easily understand why. Travelling along the River Plate from Montevideo to Punta del Este is a delightful experience. Water is so clear, and there are…Read More
Uruguayans call this area the Golden Coast. Whoever has seen a sunrise or a sunset on the River Plate will easily understand why. Travelling along the River Plate from Montevideo to Punta del Este is a delightful experience. Water is so clear, and there are many pine tree forests along the road. Beaches on the River Plate in Argentina normally have a "coffee-colored" water, while on the Uruguayan side they are nearly transparent. Why is this? Because 200 miles north of the River Plate, waters of the Uruguay River settle down at the Salto Grande dam, and are far clearer than the water of the Paraná River that enters into the River Plate on the Argentine side. And the Uruguay River feeds the Uruguayan side of the river. Also, Montevideo is far nearer the sea than Buenos Aires, and clear water from the sea comes in when the tide is high. If you look at a map of the River Plate, you will easily understand what I am talking about. The nearer you get to the ocean, the water will be far clearer. We have already spoken of the cities facing the Uruguay River (from north to south: Salto, Paysandu, Fray Bentos, and Mercedes). On the River Plate coast we have a number of tourist destinations: Carmelo, Colonia, Montevideo itself, Carrasco, Atlántida, Solymar, Piriápolis, Solanas, and Punta Ballena nearer to Punta del Este. CARMELO: This small city was founded in 1816. The scenery here is the typical scenery of the Parana River Delta (although with clearer water), very similar to the Tigre in Buenos Aires. There are direct motorboat services from the port of Tigre in Buenos Aires, Argentina (the name of the company that offers this service is Cacciola) that come over here. Carmelo has very nice beaches, and Four Seasons Hotels has a comfortable resort in Carmelo with everything you would want to find. A beautiful golf course designed by American Golf Course Design combines the attractives of the Uruguayan countryside with the golf course, including challenging white sand bunkers and artificial lakes. The hotel has a beautiful swimming pool, tennis courts, and recreation activities. They also have a program of activities for children from 5 to 12 years old. COLONIA: This city was declared Cultural Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO and is one of the historical treasures of Uruguay. I have been through this city many times on my way to Montevideo or Punta del Este, and did not have the slightest idea of the historical treasures I was missing. The colonial part of the city really deserves a visit. The city also has a bullring. Colonia is also very near Montevideo (2 hours by bus). Travelling through the old city is really fantastic, and as I do not have photos of my own, I suggest you have a look at this link, where you will find some beautiful photos: http://www.guiacolonia.com.uy/Colonia/index.htm. Then click on "lugares" (places). Colonia has amongst other things the oldest church in all Uruguay, cobblestone streets, colonial constructions, the ruins of the San Francisco Convent, and the Casa del Virrey (Spain's Governor's House). I suggest spending at least one full day to tour the city. There are at least five museums in Colonia that hide many historical treasures. There are inexpensive 1-day tours from Buenos Aires, sold by Buquebus, that will take you all around, including an all-you-can-eat barbecue. And if you are staying at Montevideo, you are very near Colonia. POCITOS: This is the tourist area of the city of Montevideo, the Uruguayan capital. It has its own skyline facing the River Plate, very nice beaches, and clear water. The Pocitos Plaza Hotel (12 floors with only 50 rooms) is conveniently located in a very nice panoramic area. CARRASCO: Near the capital, next to the international airport, and facing the River Plate, it is a residential area. ATLÁNTIDA: The most important beach between Montevideo and Piriápolis, located 28 miles to the east of Montevideo. It is a small village with a permanent population of 2,500 inhabitants. From here onwards you will see a number of beach resorts with pine tree forests, like Solymar, very near Atlántida. PIRIÁPOLIS: The panoramic view of this beach is just beautiful. Although hills are low (maybe 1,500 feet tall) they are very near the sea, and form a very pleasant combination with the beaches and the sea. This was the first beach resort in Uruguay, and it was founded by an Argentinian called Piria, so the town has this name in his honor (the city of Piria). Prices are lower here than in Punta del Este, and homes and hotels are not as luxurious as in Punta del Este. There is a very nice coastal avenue or boulevard, and a chairlift to the nearby hills (remember, there are no high mountains in Uruguay). WHAT TO SEE IN PIRIÁPOLIS: As I have already mentioned, this city (Piriápolis) was set up by an Argentinian and was the first tourist resort in Uruguay. Most important works started in 1910, and the name of the city is in honor of its founder (Piriápolis = the city of Piria). There are many attractions in the area, and these are some of them: 1) ARGENTINE EXPLANADE. Its construction started in 1910 and was inspired by European seaside resorts like Nice. 2) ARGENTINE HOTEL. Inspired by Italian palaces, it is 400 feet long along the street and 200 feet deep. It has 350 rooms for 900 people. Years ago it was the largest hotel in all South America. The Uruguayan government took it over in 1942. Recently it was privatized and refurbished. 3) PAN DE AZÚCAR (SUGAR LOAF) PARK. For the protection of fauna and flora. It may be visited from 7am to 7pm. 4) EL SAUCE LAGOON. It is the most important fresh water reserve in all the area. Has a surface of 12,500 acres and a depth that varies from 20 to 40 feet. Motor navigation and fishing are prohibited here. Water sports are allowed. You have the best view of this lagoon from Punta Ballena, near Punta del Este. You will see the Pan de Azucar mount in the background, behind the lagoon. 5) LA CASCADA PARK. A very nice 17 foot tall waterfall. There are campfires and an amphitheater. 6) And, of course, the chair lift. As you may easily understand, there is a lot to see in Piriápolis. The city is very pleasant to walk around, and it is about 2 hours away from Montevideo and only half an hour away from Punta del Este. Prices here are substantially lower, so if you are a budget traveler, this is your choice. SOLANAS: A very fashionable beach, preferred by teenagers and young people, near which is Chihuhua, a naturist beach, where you are not allowed to take photos without the consent of the person(s) involved. This beach (Solanas) normally is empty during the morning, and gets crowded in the afternoon. It is supposed to be a topless area, but don’t run any risks, watch what the people do, and don`t try to be smart... PUNTA BALLENA: Here you have the most beautiful panoramic view of what they call the "costa de oro," or Golden Coast. You will see Mediterranean constructions, what seems to be the sea (remember, it is the River Plate—here it is nearly 200 miles wide), and the skyline of Punta del Este. Casa Pueblo with its beautiful constructions is in this area. And after that, already in PUNTA DEL ESTE: A visit to the "Mansa" (mild) beach on the River Plate, the "Brava" (brave) beach on the sea, the port of Punta del Este, and a trip to the Isla de los Lobos (Seals Island) and a tour through the beautiful Cantegril Country Club, will complete this delightful visit to the Uruguayan beaches. Did you ever imagine that there are so many beautiful spots in Uruguay? Enjoy your stay in Uruguay, but don't forget to visit Argentina, with its Iguazú Falls, the glaciers down south, the Andes, and many other prime attractions. Close
Written by Robert Raymond Ingledew on 31 Jan, 2007
The city of Montevideo: Montevideo is a beautiful city and probably the safest capital in all Latin America. It has about one million inhabitants, while the whole country has a population of 4 million. Uruguay was originally a part of Argentina, but became independent on…Read More
The city of Montevideo: Montevideo is a beautiful city and probably the safest capital in all Latin America. It has about one million inhabitants, while the whole country has a population of 4 million. Uruguay was originally a part of Argentina, but became independent on August 25 of 1825 with the help of Great Britain, that was interested in having a neutral country between Brazil and Argentina. Relations between both countries have always been friendly, although presently there is a dispute regarding the potential contamination of the Uruguay river, that divides both countries, due to the installation of a paper mill in Fray Bentos, Uruguay, that is already 80% complete. Roads from Argentina to Uruguay are frequently blocked by protesters at the 3 international bridges (Gualeguaychú-Fray Bentos, Colón-Paysandu and Salto Grande, Concordia-Salto), and the recent ruling of the International Court of Justice of The Hague that these blockings do not constitute a permanent damage to Uruguay might extend these blockings in time, unless the mediation of the King of Spain attains some compromise between both countries, something that seems improbable at this time. If for any reason all 3 international bridges are blocked, the best way to cross, is to continue to Paso de los Libres, cross over to Uruguayana (Brazil) that is very near Artigas (Uruguay) and continue your travel from there to Montevideo.
I have already explained in the Overview how to get the Uruguay (ship, bus, and airplane alternatives and the names of the companies) and in Where to Stay in Uruguay you will find information on hotels. Please refer to these sections. The beaches Montevideo has on the River Plate in the area known as Pocitos and Carrasco are really beautiful. All the area from the port towards the east, including the beaches and marinas, really deserves a visit. I really enjoyed walking along all this area, although I must recognize that the Punta del Este area, especially from Solanas towards the East, is far more beautiful. Unlike Buenos Aires, where large extensions of land were gained to the river and all natural beaches disappeared, leaving mud instead of sand, Montevideo has very nice beaches, with clear water. This is because the water of the Uruguay river, that runs into the River Plate near here, settles down at the Salto Grande dam (Concordia/Salto) and downstream of the dam water is pretty clear. Of course, it all depends on whether there has been some flood in the Uruguay or Parana rivers recently (both rivers form the River Plate).
Although Pocitos and the coastal avenue are the nicest spots in Montevideo, there are many other places worthwhile visiting, like its parks and its monuments. There are a number of museums in the city. The José Battle park, with a beautiful pink marble entrance, and both zoological gardens (Dolores and Lecocq) are three other places you will want to visit. There are also historical and panoramic places you will want to visit, like the Fortaleza del Cerro fortress, park Rodó, the Citadel gate (Puerta de la Ciudadela) and the Main Square. The city of Montevideo has well over one million inhabitants, but is pretty safe, so you can enjoy walking it.
Hotels in Montevideo are not expensive (unlike Punta del Este, where they cost a lot) and there are regular bus services to Punta del Este (one hour and a half travel) and organized tours to Piriápolis and Punta del Este that are not expensive. In Montevideo I would recommend the Hotel Presidente in the downtown, a nice 3-star hotel. If you want something better, try the Posta Carretas hotel. Days Inn hotels in Uruguay are not expensive.
Durazno and Rincon del Bonete: Durazno is a small city (30,000 inhabitants) in central Uruguay, probably some 2 to 3 hours north of the city of Montevideo. It is on the Negro river, the most important river in the country, a tributary of the Uruguay river, and has the most important hydroelectric project in the country, Rincón del Bonete. The dam (240 feet high) forms an artificial lake, and dorado fishing is popular in this river, although the size of the fish is not as large as those fished at Concondia (Argentina) nor as those of the Parana river. It is a pleasant area, nice for camping, with a mild climate. There is a nearer (and smaller) dam called Paso de los Toros. El Sauzal is a nice bathing resort in this area, and it has a nice campground, called Treinta y Tres Orientales.
The Durazno – Tacuarembó – Rivera area is dedicated mostly to cattle raising (Uruguayan meat is excellent) and agriculture. The Rincón del Bonete dam and some other smaller reservoirs in the area have optimized agricultural possibilities in their area of influence. Travelling to the north you will find an important city (Rivera) that together with Santana do Livramento (Brazil) form really one sole city. It is a pleasant rolling area, and to get there you go through the agricultural area of Tacuarembo. There are smaller populations to the Northwest, like Artigas, just in front of Coarao, and quite near to Uruguayana, Brazil, that is an important city. Don't expect much more than that, because there are no high mountains in Uruguay, the highest hills are probably 1,300 feet high. Durazno is located in the center of Uruguay and is near any destination in the country. However, it is nearer the Uruguay river than the Atlantic Ocean, and very near the cities of Fray Bentos, and Paysandu (the second most important city in Uruguay). Both these cities have international bridges over the Uruguay river that connect respectively with Gualeguaychu and Colon, both in Argentina.
Paysandú is the second city of Uruguay, and is on the Uruguay river. The environment of the whole area is very pleasant. You can cross from here to the Argentine city of Colon, very near the El Palmar National Park in Argentina. Salto is the third city, and is just in front of the city of Concordia. There are regular suburban buses from Salto to Concordia, and you can also cross the river on motorboats. Buses pass on top of the Salto Grande dam, an excellent area for dorado fishing. There are regular bus services from Montevideo to both these cities, and travel takes some 5 hours to Paysandu and 6 hours to Salto. On the Argentine side, at Colón, you have one of the best 5-star Health and SPA Resorts of Argentina, the hotel Quirinale. And from Concordia (just in front of Salto) you have direct bus services to the Iguazú Falls (12 hours travel, Expreso Tigre-Iguazu). Enjoy your visit to Uruguay.
Written by Robert Raymond Ingledew on 22 Jan, 2007
Please keep in mind that I am updating prices from the Internet, and that it is advisable to double check rates with the hotels before travelling.
PUNTA DEL ESTE is expensive, and I have never stayed in the city, except once when I took an…Read More
Please keep in mind that I am updating prices from the Internet, and that it is advisable to double check rates with the hotels before travelling.
PUNTA DEL ESTE is expensive, and I have never stayed in the city, except once when I took an aparment in the Cantegrill Country Club through a timesharing exchange. I really enjoyed it. The country club was full of beautiful residences with fantastic parks, and was halfway between both beaches, with both near. It is a very quiet spot for staying, while it is not far away from the downtown. If you have timesharing in any other part of the world, try and exchange through RCI or any other reliable timeshare organization. But keep in mind that most timeshare exchange fees are not refundable, even if the desired exchange is not available. It is a sort of administrative fee. For a complete list of hotels in Punta del Este and other destinations, visit www.topuruguay.com and then click on hotels. This site also has a beautiful photo gallery of Uruguay. As a general reference, three-star hotels in Punta del Este are costing some 120 dollars per night for a double room, while two-star hotels cost some $45 per night. That is nearly double the price you would pay in Mar del Plata, Argentina, but Punta del Este is beautiful. But you will find cheaper hotels on the above website.
PIRIÁPOLIS: Here the average cost of a three-star hotel is $50 to $60 per night for a double room. It is about half an hour away from Punta del Este by bus, and the whole trip is really enjoyable. When going towards Punta del Este, get a window seat on the right-hand side and you will enjoy the scenery. I have been through Piriápolis many times, but have never stayed there. Generally speaking, I used to stay at Montevideo. The whole trip from Montevideo to Punta del Este on the bus (two hours and a half) is beautiful. To choose your hotel at Piriápolis, visit www.topuruguay.com Then click on hotels, and after that on Piriápolis.
MONTEVIDEO: Here you can find two-star hotels for as little as $18 per night (Arapey) or three-star hotels for $39 (Ibis). The Days Inn Montevideo charges $39 per night for a double room (four-star rating), but you might prefer the Pocitos Plaza Hotel (four stars, $63), because it is on the Pocitos Beach, next to the sea. I stayed at the Hotel Presidente (three stars); it was good and inexpensive. A single room costs $35 and a double room, $40. They are located on Ave. 18 de Julio 1038, phone +598 (2) 902 00 03 - 908 48 50. Buses to Punta del Este leave from the Tres Cruces Bus Station, and take two hours and a half to get to Punta del Este. But the tour from Montevideo to Punta del Este is far more convenient, because you will stop at all the points of interest on the way, including Piriápolis and Punta Ballena.
COLONIA: The Days Inn Casa del Sol Resort (four stars) could be a very nice option
CARMELO: Based on the information I have, the Four Seasons hotel is the very best. I have not stayed at Carmelo.PAYSANDU: You will find three-star hotels like the Mykonos for $27 per night.SALTO: The best option seems to be the Hotel Horacio Quiroga (five stars); that also has thermal baths, and a double room costs $106
BEST WAY TO GET AROUND: One word of caution: as long as the confrontation between Argentina and Uruguay continues regarding the installation of paper mills next to the Uruguay River, you stand a high chance of being unable to cross to Uruguay. And with yesterday's ruling of the International Court of Justice of The Hague that these blockings do not cause a permanent damage to Uruguayan economy, this situation could last for months. Roads are blocked at all international bridges (Gualeguaychu-Fray Bentos is where the protest is more active, but the bridges at Colón-Paysandu and Concordia Salto are also blocked frequently by protesters). So the safest way to get around is travelling by Buquebus from the Port of Buenos Aires to Uruguay, or by plane. Uruguay has very good bus services that cover the whole country. EGA (Empresa General Artigas) seems to be one of the best, and it goes from Montevideo to Buenos Aires and also to Córdoba (Argentina). However, read the previous paragraph regarding road blocking and check with the bus company to see if services are running normally. This page gives valuable information regarding bus services inside Uruguay: www.visit-uruguay.com/es/comollegar.htm. (Buses from Montevideo to Punta del Este, Piriápolis, and other destinations). All buses leave from the Tres Cruces Bus Station in Montevideo. Taxis in Uruguay are more expensive than in Argentina, but far cheaper than in the US or Europe.
Written by Robert Raymond Ingledew on 20 Jan, 2007
There are a number of nice places north of Punta del Este: Barra de Maldonado, José Ignacio, La Paloma, Punta Diablo, and up to the international border with Brazil at Chuy. The first two destintions, BARRA DE MALDONADO and the JOSE IGNACIO LIGHTHOUSE area, are…Read More
There are a number of nice places north of Punta del Este: Barra de Maldonado, José Ignacio, La Paloma, Punta Diablo, and up to the international border with Brazil at Chuy. The first two destintions, BARRA DE MALDONADO and the JOSE IGNACIO LIGHTHOUSE area, are very quiet, sought mostly by fishermen and by people who want to relax away from the multitudes. I went there fishing (I am not an expert sea fisherman, so I was not successful), but enjoyed the tranquility of this area. LA PALOMA is a very nice, quiet seaside resort, without the crowds of Punta del Este, but with all the conveniences that a tourist can wish for. It is the main seaside resort after Punta del Este, some 25 miles north of Rocha and some 150 miles east of Montevideo. It has 13 miles of nearly virgin beaches and is an ideal place for relaxing. It has a lighthouse constructed in 1874 due to the frequent shipwrecks that occurred at that time in the area, including the "Lise Amelie" in 1868. It has a permanent population of 5,300 people that increases during the summer months to some 30,000 persons. It has a very nice pine tree forest. This area was discovered by Spanish colonizer Fernando de Magallanes (Magellan) on January 9, 1520. PUNTA DIABLO (DEVIL'S POINT) is a very nice, rocky area where there is a fishermen's village, some 38 miles north of La Paloma. It is about halfway between Punta del Este and Chuy. Buses from Montevideo take you here after some three and a half hours of travel. The whole village is very colorful, and there are some historical points in the area, like the Santa Teresa fortress, constructed by the Portuguese colonizers in 1762 and conquered by the Spaniards soon after that. It was nearly covered by sand until a Uruguayan archeologist started working on its recovery in 1928. Today it may be visited year-round. There is an admission fee. Ten miles to the north of Punta Diablo there is a marine tortoise aquarium and rehabilitation center with guided tours. Some 6 miles before Chuy you have another fortification, San Miguel, constructed by the Spaniards in 1734 and later conquered by the Portuguese colonizers. Along the road to Chuy you will find three fairly large lagoons and some palm tree forests. CHUY is a city where you can cross from Uruguay to Brazil without even noticing. There are no immigration formalilties at the border; half the town is in Brazil and the other half in Uruguay. It is a virtual shopping center where you can buy Brazilian products at affordable prices. The Barra de Chuy is the most popular beach; it has one hotel, two very nice campgrounds, many houses for rent, and some places for dancing. It is considered to be a very safe area. In the city of Chuy there are at least four hotels, of which one is a three-star hotel. There must be more on the Brazilian side of the city. There are many tourist destinations on the River Plate to the west of Punta del Este, of which Colonia, Carmelo, Pocitos (a district of Montevideo), Atlántida, and Piriápolis are the most important ones. I will cover these areas in a separate Experience. The Brazilian side of the River Plate has clear waters, probably due to the fact that the water from the Uruguay River, one of the two rivers that form the River Plate, has generally clear water (muddy water settles down at the Salto Grande lake in Salto/Concordia). And both the city of Montevideo and some other destinations, like Durazno and the Rincón del Bonete dam (a good dorado fishing area), deserve separate reports. I should caution you that due to the dispute regarding the construction of paper plants next to the Uruguay River on the Uruguayan side, international roads from Argentina to Uruguay are frequently blocked by protesters. The safest way of crossing the river is on Buquebus, from the port of Buenos Aires, or by plane. Enjoy your stay in Uruguay. Close
Written by CRISTINAMARIA on 01 Aug, 2003
This resort is ideally located for exploring the Uruguayan Riviera and its chic capital, Montevideo. The resort is less than a two-hour bus ride from the capital city and there is a bus stop located directly opposite the resort on the motorway and an agency…Read More
This resort is ideally located for exploring the Uruguayan Riviera and its chic capital, Montevideo. The resort is less than a two-hour bus ride from the capital city and there is a bus stop located directly opposite the resort on the motorway and an agency that sells tickets for the local bus companies, which are super efficient, punctual, and comfortable, all with toilets.
The resort is located at the start of the coastal development. It is built in a eucalyptus forest, which makes it a little damp in the wintertime, but it would be cool in summer. The beach is across the road. Punta del Este is a mere half an hour drive from the resort (other resorts, like Maldonado and Piriapolis, are closer).
The highlight of the area is the Casapueblo Gallery and Resort (another RCI resort), the creation of the famous Uruguayan artist, Carlos Vilaros. It is built on the coast on a rugged peninsula and has many levels, some with pools, terraces, gardens, or balconies. There is a lovely shop and restaurant where you may meet the artist by chance as we were lucky enough to do and get his autograph and photo. His daughter gives art classes at the Solanas Resort, which is a very popular option on the activities programme.