Written by Holly Parsons
Under the shadows of Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay can seem neglected. But with the rich culture and history this country has a huge amount to offer. Explore the lush ecosystems in the mountains before joining the celebrations at the carnival in the capital of Montevideo. There is never a dull moment in Uruguay.
The longest carnival season in the world
Quebrada De Los Cuervos – Uruguay’s largest canyon
Quebrada de los Cuervos is home to a huge number of plants and birds © Tornasoloriental, Wikimedia Commons
Quebrada De Los Cuervos is the largest canyon in Uruguay, which inhabits a huge variety of bird and plant species that are mainly found in Brazil. Having been a national park since 2008, the 175m deep canyon is well protected with paths and signs. Translated, the name means ‘Gorge of the Crows’, but it refers to the vultures that breed on its cliffs. The three ecosystems include pradera (grassland), quebrada (ravine forest) and matorral serrano (mountain heathland), and contain over 130 plant species and around 140 bird species.
Termas de Daymàn – hot spring resort
Water temperatures at Termas de Daymàn can reach 44 degrees © Leonardo Correa, Wikimedia Commons
Only 6km south of Salto, Termas de Daymàn is the most ancient hot spring resort in Uruguay offers an ideal relaxing experience. With the water temperatures reaching 44oC, and the high amounts of positive elements such as calcium and iron, the pools provide perfect conditions for therapeutic treatments and as healing medicine. Too hot? Just north of the resort is Acuamanía waterpark, with slides up to 70m long and many other activities such as pool basketball.
Dancers and bands perform for 5 hours at the Grand Parade ©Latangocandombe, Wikimedia Commons
Montevideo comes to life for the carnival. Lasting 80 days from the end of January, the streets are filled with parades, open-air theatres, colourful outfits and many more. The grand parade is held of the last Thursday in January, when performers, floats and music entertain the crowds for 5 hours along Avenida 18 de Julio. Despite it not being quite as big as the Brazilian carnival, Uruguay really gets into the spirit and makes the most of the season.
Canelones Department wineries
The grapes in the Canelones Department make perfect wine every year ©Willy Rey, Wikimedia Commons
Canelones produces over 60% of the country’s wine and is known as the capital of wine production because of this, and the convenient distance from Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo. This region produces a huge variety of wines from Merlot to Sauvignon Blanc, but the wine that they are most famous for is Tannat. The grapes withstand the humidity well, creating perfect wine each year. 95 million litres of wine are produced each year and exported all around the world, but the most authentic way to taste the flavours is by going on a tour of the vineyard and taking part in wine tasting.
Sierra de la Animas
The spectacular view from the Sierra de las Animas mountain top © Fabian Bandera, Wikimedia Commons
A great place to see the views over the Southern part of the country is from the top of Sierra de las Animas mountain peak. Taking around 3 hours for a round trip, the scenery creates a magical experience with the help from a tunnel of trees giving perfect shade in the summer and an ultimate environment for watching the wildlife. Dotted around the trek are little gorges with pools and waterfalls, making a serene spot for soaking up the beauty.
Horse riding in Estancia La Sirena
Exploring the sights on horse-back © Kobby Dagan, Shutterstock
Uruguay has a lot of history, and one of the best ways to explore it is on horseback. Just north of Mercedes is the historic Estancia La Sirena, founded in the 18th century. The house here was built by the first President of Argentina, who went into exile. The ranch is one of the first tourist estancias in Uruguay, so there are plenty of things to do. These include horse riding, boating and indulging in the rich foods of the area.
Punta Del Diablo beach
Sun shining at Punta Del Diablo beach ©Gábor Kovács,Dreamstime
Fancy a day relaxing in the sun? A prime destination for this is Punta Del Diablo. The bright fishing village transforms into a surfer’s resort in the summer is a perfect place for beach activities and exploring the seaside village. Waves reach up to 2m in height on the east side so the surfing is amazing. Fish restaurants and bars make up the village, but the beaches are never too crowded, creating a quiet yet exciting location.
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