Uruguay self drive vacation

“Small, safe and wonderfully tranquil, Uruguay is the perfect destination for a self drive vacation. Discover a rarely visited side of South America on this two-week, tailor made tour.”

Highlights

Buenos Aires | Colonia | Carmelo | Stay in a wine lodge & on a working ranch | Montevideo | Rocha | José Ignacio beach resort | Optional: Cabo Polonio National Park

Description of Uruguay self drive vacation

Dwarfed by its neighbours, Brazil and Argentina, little Uruguay is a quiet destination that offers a surprising amount of open space – and one of the best ways to explore this at your own pace is on an Uruguay self drive vacation. The size of England, it has a population of just 3.5 million people, leaving plenty of room for rolling countryside, vineyards, cattle ranches and birdlife – who make their presence more than known each dawn. You’ll relax as soon as you take the ferry out of Buenos Aires to arrive on the other shore – in the UNESCO-rated port town of Colonia. It’s peaceful with Portuguese architecture and tree-shaded boulevards.

Pick up your hire car and continue around the country, from chic beach resorts and classy wine lodges, to working ranches and the uncluttered yet cosmopolitan capital of Montevideo. This waterfront city once attracted immigrants from across Europe, and these multicultural influences can still be seen today, particularly in the colonial centre with its art deco buildings, retro feel and slightly faded charm. Uruguay’s limited traffic, safe environment and great infrastructure mean that it is an ideal destination for a self drive vacation – and an unusual chance to discover a side of South America that few travelers really take the time to explore.

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Uruguay self drive vacation

Environment

Travel and tourism can both benefit and damage the environment, the economy, the social structure, culture and communities in any country. We know how mass tourism, unrestricted hotel building, poorly devised tours and environmentally destructive activities can bring money flooding in and governments have, in a spirit of short termism, been tempted to accept them. But experience teaches us that in the long term this sort of uncontrolled activity can be detrimental to the country's development.

As a company we love Latin America and strive to protect the rural and urban landscapes which we take you to visit. We work with local operators which have a proven record in training guides to set a good example in their respect for their surroundings and pass on advice and encouragement to visitors on how to preserve the fragile environment in simple ways, such as by refilling a water bottle, disposing of rubbish responsibly, not disturbing local communities or wildlife and not purchasing items made from endangered animals or plants. When selecting accommodation, we give preference to hotels, lodges and cruise vessels which have a verifiable commitment to eco-friendly practices.

On this vacation you will stay at Estancia Guardia del Monte, a working ranch in the heart of rural Uruguay. The historic ranch dates back to the early 19th century and the original features and sense of atmosphere have been delightfully maintained: guest rooms feature local wood and stone, as well as items washed up on the shore from shipwrecks. We feel that it is important for your accommodation to tell the story of where you are and Estancia Guardia del Monte certainly fulfils this brief: with cattle-ranching and coastal history so engrained in Uruguay’s history and culture, you’ll feel immersed in this during your stay here.

You will have the opportunity on this vacation to visit Cabo Polonio National Park. Protection of this land has been a priority for the Ministry of Environment since it was granted National Park status in 2009: your impact here will be minimal as the use of electricity and running water is prohibited and you will be required to leave your car at the entrance in favour of park-sponsored safari-style vehicles. The idea behind this mode of transport is to protect the park’s natural beauty from too many vehicles, which might destroy habitats and cause high levels of pollution. The money from your entrance fee goes towards park transport and maintaining these vehicles. You can also choose to get around either on foot or horseback. If you choose to rent a horse then you can seek out Popeye, a well-known local, who has years of experience taking care of his friendly horses. The national park is also home to one of South America’s largest sea lion colonies – the staunch protection of the park’s natural environment has ensured that they thrive here: in recent years their habitat has expanded and they now occupy two islands and the tip of the peninsula.

Community

While this vacation relies on you driving your own private vehicle, which is not the most low-carbon means of transport, it does allow you the freedom to stop at little off-the-beaten-track places along the way. Whether you stop at a local fruit-seller’s stand or stumble across an artist’s workshop where you purchase a truly unique piece, your adventure will directly contribute to the local economy.

We pride ourselves on delivering our clients truly authentic and unforgettable experiences in Latin America and immersing them in the culture of the places they visit. This vacation gives you the opportunity to choose to find authentic experiences which connect you with the people of Uruguay: with plenty of rural estancias dotting your route you can pop inside if you like, where you will be welcomed warmly (a typically Uruguayan trait) and sample their traditional way of life, engaging with the people who work and live there, and learning about Uruguay’s culture in an authentic setting.

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