Uruguay Tag

colonia del sacramento, uruguay, historic, tourism, sights, history

The rise of Uruguay

Colonia del Sacramento A waiter calls out to me as I walk down one of Colonia's many cobblestone streets. The well-dressed Uruguayan is holding out a glass of wine, trying to entice me into the restaurant. "Come, try. Wine for you." It's a tempting offer after walking through the heat for the past couple of hours but I politely decline. I've got more to see and there are plenty of restaurants for tourists here - this has always been a city of travellers. Colonia del Sacramento (as it's officially named) is the oldest city in Uruguay, established in the 17th century across the river from Buenos Aires. For much of its existence it's been an important international port and it's ownership has changed a dozen times (between Spain, Portugal, Brazil and Uruguay). The memories of this unstable past can still be seen in the historic section of Colonia. The city gate, drawbridge, lighthouse...

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03 January
uruguay, beaches, top 2012 destination, playground, punta del este

The secret playground of South America

Away from Punta del Este Punta del Este is the typical beach holiday in Uruguay. But it's not the best. Here, the sands stretch for kilometres. Waves crash onto the shore, filling the air with thunder and the smell of salt. Birds fly overhead while fish leap from the water. The sun rises in the sky, the rays embraced by the coastline and caught by the crests of the ocean. The beach is ready. The only thing missing is the people. You see, it’s December in Uruguay and it’s still a week or two until the crowds descend. Welcome to the summer playground of the South Americans. This is their secret indulgence… their escape from the heat of the cities. And they don’t want you to know about it! The coastline of Uruguay, stretching from near the capital, Montevideo, all the way to the Brazilian border has some of the nicest beaches on the continent....

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22 December
turtles, uruguay, karumbe, la coronilla, conservation, cerro verde

Inside Turtle HQ

Turtle conservation work At turtle headquarters, it’s quite appropriate that things move slowly. Maybe it’s because of an affinity with the animal, maybe it’s the way of the beach culture, or, most likely, it’s just because it’s South America. Life for my week volunteering with a turtle conservation group on the Uruguayan coast had its fair share of hard work, but things were certainly never stressed. Turtle headquarters (as I’ve named it) is a small wooden building metres from the beach in the small town of La Coronilla (population 1000 with dogs included, 500 without). From the outside the building looks like a boarded-up shack until you open the walls to reveal open air windows into the communal spaces that were my home for the week. A small kitchen shared a space with the dining area; there were two couches in another area; and there were four tiny rooms with four bunk...

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20 December
uruguay, turtles, karumbe, conservation, volunteering, la coronilla, cerro verde

On the hunt for turtles

Sea turtle conservation For four days the sea turtles had been evading us and this was our last chance. We feared if we didn’t catch one today then we would leave this little stretch of the Uruguayan coast with a sense of disappointment… perhaps even failure. It was time to battle the waves for one final time. We squeezed into our wetsuits and unrolled our net with a determination not to let the ocean defeat us again. I had come to the small beach village of La Coronilla to help a sea turtle conservation group called Karumbe. During the turtle season of the warmer months it works to protect the animals from threats within the ocean and from humans. Our task this week was to capture turtles in the ocean that would be tagged and documented. Each morning we set out from our base on the beach and walked the thirty minutes to...

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19 December
montevideo, uruguay, what's montevideo like, capital, city guide

Morning in Montevideo

Montevideo, Uruguay One a quiet Sunday morning, the streets of Montevideo are almost empty. The city is slowly awakening from a night of fiesta, another journey into the revelry of the dark which South America embraces as a proud tradition. Music had escaped the bars of the capital and filled the crowded streets; the restaurants had overflowed with groups eating into the small hours; and the children had set off fireworks on the pavements, either unaware or unconcerned with their explosive dangers. But on this Sunday morning you can see the city for its innocence – the same way the study of a sleeping body reveals features without the self-conscious. Montevideo has long been ignored by many Western tourists. Dwarfed in size by neighbouring Argentina and Brazil, Uruguay is often left in the shadows of the tourist trail. It is, though, a beautiful city full of fascinating architecture, water vistas and welcoming public...

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15 December