Take a Uruguay adventure tour and discover why this country was once South America’s private playground, catering for Argentine, Brazilian and Chilean visitors with few tourists from outside the continent. Now the secret is out and travellers from all over the world are flocking to Uruguay’s beautiful beaches, character-full cities and fascinating cultural mix. On a Uruguay adventure tour, you can explore the charming smuggling city of Concordia del Sacrimento with its cobbled, World Heritage-listed historic centre dating back to the 17th century Portuguese pirate founders. Then wander the pretty parks of Salto before visiting the nearby hot springs at Daymán. In eclectic Montevideo, Uruguay’s political capital on the Atlantic Coast, there’s plenty of Art Deco 1930s architecture, a thriving port area and a strong café culture, colourful outdoor markets, cozy tango bars and wonderful steak restaurants to try. A visit to Montevideo’s nearby beaches to bask in the delightful sun or simply watch the locals enjoying themselves in a must on any Uruguay adventure tour.
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Uruguay Travel Guide
Uruguay Travel Guide
The only inhabitants of Uruguay before European colonization of the area were the Charrua, a small tribe driven south by the Guarani of Paraguay. The Spanish discovered the territory of present-day Uruguay in 1516.
In the early 19th century history was shaped by ongoing wars against the British, Spanish, Portuguese, and colonial forces for dominance in the region. In 1811, Jose Gervasio Artigas, who became Uruguay's national hero, launched a revolt against Spain that resulted in the formation of a regional federation with Argentina. In 1821, Uruguay was annexed to Brazil by Portugal, but Uruguayan patriots declared independence from Brazil in 1825. With the support of Argentine troops and after three years of fighting, they defeated Brazilian forces. The 1828 Treaty of Montevideo brought Uruguay independence, and the nation's first constitution was adopted in 1830. Uruguay since then has had a pretty normal run of things, unlike most other South American countries.
Geography and weather
Uruguay is situated within the temperate climate zone. The climate is warm, with rainfall evenly distributed throughout the year. Temperatures rarely fall below freezing and range from 10° to 16ºC during the winter (June to September) and from 21° to 28ºC during the summer (December to March). However, Uruguay is vulnerable to quick changes in the weather. This is because the country has no mountain ranges to act as weather barriers. The highest point is Cerro Cathedral at 514 metres.
Uruguay can also suffer from several natural weather hazards, for example floods and droughts. It also occasionally experiences the pampero. This is a cold and sometimes violent wind, which blows north from the Argentine pampas.
Visit www.worldclimate.com to get an idea of what the weather will be like on your tour.
Most nationals, including citizens of the EU, North American and Australasia do not need a visa to enter. Entry for nationals not requiring a visa is granted on production of a passport valid for more than six months, a return air/bus ticket and proof of funds to support yourself for the duration of the stay. Most nationalities can enter for up to 90 days stay, although it's up to the immigration official to decide whether you're allocated 30, 60 or 90 days on arrival. Visa requirements do change periodically so you should check for the latest information on your specific visa requirements with your local Uruguayan Embassy or Consulate well in advance of your planned date of travel.
Please note: If your nationality does need a visa to enter Uruguay, you must obtain this before arrival. Although it is possible to obtain a Uruguayan visa in other South American countries (e.g. Argentina and Brazil) this process takes at least eight days.
ALL prices stated in this dossier are given as a guide only and are subject to change. All prices are quoted in US dollars.
Important: In Latin America you will have problems changing the US$100 CB B2 2001 series notes and it is important you do not to bring them. In some countries banks won't even take them. The serial number is located in the top left hand corner and bottom right hand corner on the side with the President’s face. This serial number starts with CB and then a few more numbers and then directly under that B2. At the bottom of the note near the signature of the Treasurer it says which series of notes it is and it is there that it says 2001 series.
We recommend that you bring cash/travellers cheques in US dollars only. Visa, Mastercard, Diners and American Express are the best credit cards to bring however there can be problems at times getting money out from ATMs, so make sure you have sufficient cash for emergencies.
ATMs (cajeros automáticos) accepting international cards can be found in all cities and sizable towns.
For more information about the best way to carry your money please see the Pre-Departure Information (which will be sent to you with confirmation of your booking). There is no restriction on the amount of foreign currency that you may bring into Argentina, however very large sums should be declared on arrival. There is often a general lack of small change and we recommend maintaining a supply of small denomination notes and coins.
Shop for leather goods (coats, jackets, bags, wallets, shoes), yerba maté and bombilla (this is the container and silver straw which most Uruguayans use to drink their maté tea – typical souvenir), ponchos, onyx, silver handicrafts and woollens especially cashmere. Generally there’s not much room for bargaining in Uruguay unless shopping in markets or in the street. However you can easily bargain in the leather specialist shops in Montevideo as they have a lot of competition. Remember that Uruguay is just like an older version of Argentina and has just about everything that they have, except it’s much cheaper nowadays in Argentina.
In most Uruguayan restaurants a 14% service charge is added on the bill. Check the bill to make sure and, unless you get exceptional service, it is not necessary to give a further tip. Please note there is also a 23% government tax added onto all food. You should take all these charges into consideration when reading the menu, as up to 40% might well be added onto the bill at the end. You do not need to tip taxi drivers, etc but you should tip people who assist you with your luggage at hotels (don’t over-tip, 50 cents or so is fine). Tipping guides at the end of excursions and treks etc is always appreciated and your tour leader will advise you on the amount for this.
Most of Montevideo can be visited on foot, as it’s quite a small city. There are buses that run all over the city at about US$0.50 per journey and you pay the conductor. Taxis have meters which record a number which you then relate to a cardboard sheet and a price will correspond with that number on the meter. It will cost approximately US$3 from the old city to the beach at Pocitos.
Crime in Latin America is not as bad as its reputation as long as you are sensible and alert. Thieves do operate in parts of Uruguay but if you are cautious and sensible (NOT paranoid) and you should be fine. Try to keep away from dark quiet areas if on your own, particularly late at night and try to always take a taxi. If you have had a few drinks and are returning to your hotel at night – it is best to always take a taxi directly to the hotel. We suggest that whenever possible you leave all of your important documents in the hotel safe. However you should always carry some form of ID or a photocopy of your passport.
Local food and drink
As a guideline a simple snack (e.g. a sandwich) can cost as little as US$1, a light meal will cost around US$5-$6, and even a meal in one of the better restaurants in Colonia, Salto or Montevideo will be cheaper in comparison to what you would expect to pay at home but the added tax (see below) and service charge makes the bill go up a lot. Obviously the final cost depends on what you order and if you have wine or other drinks which will certainly increase the bill. Some restaurants also have another charge which they pop onto the bottom of the bill under the name “cubiertos”, which loosely means cutlery. None of these add-ons will be on the menu, so watch out.
All drinks such as water, soft or alcoholic drinks are at your own expense at all times. The following is a guideline for drinks bought in a shop in the street. Prices in restaurants and hotels can sometimes be more than double the prices specified below:
1 litre of water US$0.70
30cl bottle of soft drink US$0.75
30cl bottle of beer US$1.00
50cl bottle of beer US$1.50
In Uruguay the basic diet focuses around meat mostly with french fries (papas fritas), mashed potatoes (pure) or “papas suflé” (local typical deep fried potatoes that blow up like little balloons and are delicious).
For breakfast it’s normal to eat croissants (media lunas) with a good strong coffee.
Grilled beef (“asado”) in different forms is good. Other dishes include “lomo ala pimiento” (pepper steak), giant ribs (“asado de tira”) and mixed grills (“parrillada”). There is a difference here that seafood is far more popular and in abundance than Argentina, try “cazuela” (seafood stew). They also have the usual “calimares” (squid), “mejillons” (mussels) and “cazon” (shark). Normal fish is called “pescado” which can be served grilled, pan fried with breadcrumbs (“apanado”) or with a sauce. There are also plenty of chicken (“pollo”) dishes available. “Milanesa de pollo” (boneless chicken cooked with breadcrumbs) is a favourite.
They have very good pastries in Uruguay, such as “yemas”, crystalised egg-yolks in pastry. Ice cream is also very good.
If you are a strict vegetarian you may experience a distinct lack of variety in the food available, especially in small towns. However, vegetarian alternatives are becoming more popular. Our tour leaders will do their best to provide interesting vegetarian alternatives for included meals, but your patience and understanding is requested.
You should be wary of drinking the local tap water. Bottled water, carbonated soft drinks and fruit juices are widely available and much safer.
Imported beers and spirits are available and local spirits are always cheaper but rarely as good. There is the usual assortment of rums and wine is very popular. Local spirits are grappa and caña. There are also various brands of beers which are good. You should also try a “medio medio” which is half whiskey & half caña or if you ask for it in the Mercado del Puerto it’s half sparkling wine with half still white wine, different!
GMT/UTC -3. For other time differences please visit www.timeanddate.com