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6 THINGS TO DO IN URUGUAY

ENJOY MONTEVIDEO THE STRESS-FREE CITY

The nation’s capital is big enough to have plenty to see, but small enough to get around easily. Much of the city is along the seafront, where locals jog and families play ball games. The city is ranked as having the highest quality of life in Latin America and considering many offices don’t start until 10am it has a very relaxed ambience. I visited earlier this year and found the people friendly and happy. The Spanish historic centre is like walking back in time, and for those who like meat stop at the Mercado del Puerto for an asado, a mixed charcoal grill. For shopping an old prison at Punta Carretas is now a fashionable mall. Tango is also as popular here as in Buenos Aires. If you want some real peace and quiet go to La Baguela, a country hotel just 30 minutes away with its own deserted beach.

RIDE THE DUNES OF ROCHA

The department of Rocha in the East has some of the finest beaches and lagoons in the country. The sand dunes are sparsely inhabited, and you can even stay in a yurt or beach cabin at La Pedrera. This quiet area is great for bird-watching, horse-riding or as I chose, biking. There are amazing walks over the dunes to the old hippie colony of Cabo Polonia. Take plenty of water with you on any of these trips, as there are no refreshments on sale anywhere. You may stumble upon tiny fisherman’s villages, but the only living thing I came across was a donkey.

PLAY JAMES BOND AT JOSÉ IGNACIO

José Ignacio is a coastal point that attracts the wealthy jet-set. You can find ultra-modern architects dream hotels like the three glamourous Vik properties (Estancia, Bahia and Playa) each decorated with unique works of art or the Fasano hotel in nearby Punta del Este. The Awa boutique hotel also is in Punta del Este. The lagoon at Jose Ignacio is a fave spot for kite-boarders.

TASTE THE TANNAT

Uruguay has some great wines, with a heritage going back to Italian, Spanish and French immigrants. The grape that has been adopted here is Tannat, which produces a heady, strong and full-bodied wine suited to the harsh dry environment. It is only recently been discovered by importers and well worth trying with a good steak. Some of the bodegas or wineries are open to visitors and do tastings, (make sure that you are not the designated driver). A few of the estancias take in guests, I particularly liked Narbona, which was further to the west near Carmelo. We also stopped at the charming Aguaverde Wine Lodge near Punta del Este for lunch. The welcoming lodge has rooms and cottages for guests, a stunning infinity pool and a vineyard beyond the gardens.

WALK AROUND COLONIA DEL SACRAMENTO

Take a day trip to Colonia, a charming town steeped in Spanish and Portuguese historical monuments. Popular with trippers from Argentina too, as a 45-minute ferry connects with Buenos Aires. The town is dominated by the lighthouse and fortified walls, but there are many interesting museums, churches and art galleries. One of the main attractions for me are the old classic cars that can be seen dotted around the centre, some of which are no longer driven but make unique bar-rooms for a romantic drink. There are some nice boutique hotels such as El Charco, if you have time enough to linger a day or two.

WHALE WATCHING

Southern Right Whales head along the coastlines of South America. They mate and raise their calves before migrating towards Antarctica, where their main feeding grounds are. Uruguay has some prime spots for whale watching. The season stretches from June to December, depending on the weather. The best time to observe these graceful giants and their offspring is between August and October. The Atlantic coast has good vantage points at Rocha and Punta del Este. Boat tours should be approved by the Organization for the Conservation of Whales (OCC-Uruguay) to make sure that the whales are not disturbed. It is even possible to observe them from the beach, with a binoculars. Watch out for water sprays, churning water and flocks of sea gulls – these are sure indicators that whales are near. Chances are even better in the early morning or late afternoon. For more details about visiting Uruguay do contact us.
All pictures except whale are copyright David Horwell.

RELATED: 6 Things to do in Uruguay

Everything you need to know about Argentine Wine in one handy infographic

Most people who drink wine are familiar with Malbec, the national grape of Argentina, but less is known about the countries other grapes. Take the Bonarda grape for example, or the excellent Patagonian Pinot Noir. Not only does this infographic show the regions of wine making importance in Argentina but the facts and figures around the industry. Who knew that the highest winery in the world is located in the Upper Calchaqui Valleys at over 10,000 feet?

Credit: Vinepair

Credit: Vinepair

To begin your wine tour of Argentina, get in touch with us today.

RELATED: Top 5 holidays in Argentina

 

Uruguay – Not For Vegetarians

David Horwell

David Horwell

I recently spent an enjoyable week on an exploratory trip to Uruguay. Whilst much time was spent checking out hotels from basic eco-yurts to the palatial Sofitel Montevideo Casino Carrasco; a large part of the week was devoted to sampling the culinary delights and wines of this peaceful small republic. As one can expect in a country where there are nearly four cows to every person we ate a lot of meat, in fact, seven steaks in as many days; accompanying salads are draped with dried ham and cheese, but that was just a warm up for huge steaks. At an asado or Parillada grill, these are served only after a generous helping of blood sausage with the odd baked potato. Fortunately there are plenty of good local wines to wash all this protein down. The Tannat grape is the vine that Uruguay claims as its own was probably brought by the Basques in the 19th century. It produces a full-bodied strong red that has fruity notes, but I also had a lovely crisp rosé at the Altos de Ballena vineyard. Most of the vineyards are on hills cooled by sea breezes and upon ancient metmorphic rock. The Tannat is often blended with Merlot or Cabernet to lessen the high tannin content. At the Bodega Narbona we even had some local grappa, a fire-water that is mellowed with local honey. The greatest charm of the country was that it felt like you were stepping back in time to a place where there were hardly any cars and lunch could take up to two hours without you feeling guilty. To plan your escape to Uruguay see our suggested holiday ideas or call our travel experts.

RELATED: A guide to Uruguayan Food

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