Insider South America Series, Chapter 4: A quick detour to Uruguay

person_outline Ryan Turnbull & Ethan Harwood
Dec 20, 2018

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Ever thought of travelling to Uruguay? Neither did we! But, we are so incredibly glad that we did! If you like chill vibes, sun and beaches, then Uruguay is the place to be.

HOW TO GET THERE

To get to Uruguay, we caught a ferry from Buenos Aires, over to Colonia, and then caught a bus to the capital, Montevideo. In total, it cost us less than 2,000 Argentinian pesos each, and was far quicker and more comfortable than getting a bus the entire way around!

Not only that, we can now say that we have officially crossed borders by air, land and sea!

WHERE TO STAY

When visiting, plan to arrive on a Thursday and only stay 2-3 days max. Throughout the week, it is a rather quiet place to be. Nothing really happens until Thursday to Sunday; then the city becomes a beacon of colours, lights and parties.

We recommend a stay in Compay hostel, which is walking distance to the centre of town. As soon as you arrive at the hostel, you will feel the Uruguayan chill, rustic vibe. With the price roughly $420 URG pesos/night (no pun intended) - it has good showers, comfortable beds, free breakfast, and great wifi. You can see why we liked our stay here!

WHAT TO DO

MONTEVIDEO

Montevideo has lots of museums and theatres, so there is always something to do in any weather. For lunch, head down to the old city “Ciudad Vieja” area where you will have no shortage of cafes and restaurants. For an authentic experience, pop into the markets and see the restaurants inside. Another great way to feel vibes here is just to get lost and walk along the seafront looking at the monuments and taking in the scenery.

PUNTA DEL ESTE

We used Punta del Este as a stopover town. We spent only a single night here, but we definitely recommend a few nights. With two beautiful beaches on either side of the city, there is plenty of places to kick back and enjoy Uruguay's chilled out lifestyle!

We stayed in RocaMar Hostel. With a large outdoor area to chill and have a beer in, and only a 5-minute walk to the beach. What more do you want for $300 URG pesos/night? Jump on the bus in the afternoon and head 20 minutes away to a part of the city called Carlos Páez Vilaró, and head to “Mirador Punta Ballena”. Once you arrive, you will be treated to a 360º view of the area. Stick around a little longer, and you will experience one of South America’s most beautiful sunsets.

CABO POLONIO

A place the world seems to have left behind. Forget alarm clocks, bedtimes, or time in general for that matter. Cabo is a place where you just let whatever happens, happen. There is not a lot to do except kick back, relax, enjoy the Uruguayan sunshine and just disconnect from the rest of the world for a while.

In the offseason, Cabo is home to 60 or so people, and in the summer it jumps up to around 250. Even in high season, it’s still a hideaway most people will miss! We stayed in a brilliant hostel called Viejo Lobo. A vegetarian hostel with a real kick back, relax and enjoy vibe! They have their own chef, and for $100 URG pesos he will cook you breakfast in the morning and for $150 URG pesos he will make lunch and dinner. Even if you don't stay here, eating here is an absolute must.

Around mid-afternoon, the guitar comes out, and some local ballads are played, some of which written by the staff (talk about an authentic experience, quite often with other staff members jumping in with a little freestyle rap).

For sunset, take the massive 3-minute walk to south beach, pick a spot to throw your towel down, kick back and watch another glorious Uruguayan sunset. You will actually see the entire town gather every day to watch it. If your feeling like a nice leisurely walk, once you're on the beach you can see a small mountain at the other end, it takes roughly 2 hours to get there and has a beautiful view over the ocean and Cabo on the peninsula!

Right on the end of the peninsula, you will see a lighthouse, and you can head to the top for only 25 pesos. Below the lighthouse is a protected area where you can see a whole colony of sea lions and sea wolves. Other than this, Cabo is literally about kicking it back in a hammock, on the beach or by the fire, letting the world pass by.

OTHER SPECIAL MENTIONS - GETTING TO AND FROM CABO

Cabo is a very rural town, so it can be a bit confusing to get here. Firstly, you will need to get a bus from where you are, in our case, Punta del Este, to Puerta del Polonio. From here you are still about 20 minutes away from town so you will need to purchase a return ticket, roughly $10 AUD. The bus is a small, old semi-truck fitted with seats in the cargo bed, and for a great view, the first 8-10 people get a seat on the roof!

As Cabo is quite rural and wifi is next to non-existent, make sure you know what time the truck departs on your departure day so you can get back to the terminal in time for your bus. You should also have your bus tickets purchased and printed so you can arrive without stress and be sure to get a seat. Finally, bring cash as there is no ATM here. You can budget around $400-550 URG pesos a day ($20 AUD) and pay your accommodation by card at the end of your stay.

It’s a Cabo thing.

Follow us on Instagram at “rysys_world_tour” and “ethanharwood80” for pics and more!

Follow our next chapter as we tell you how to get the most out of your visit to Buenos Aires, Argentina here

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Ryan Turnbull & Ethan Harwood

Ryan Turnbull & Ethan Harwood

Ryan & Ethan are guest bloggers currently hopping their way around South America and are the creative minds behind By Travellers For Travellers! For more hidden gems and tons of photographic inspiration from their adventure, follow them on @rysys_world_tour & @ethanharwood80.