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  • Writer's pictureMarion Marquardt

Insider tip Uruguay - a jewel for nature lovers, those seeking tranquility and hard-boiled surfers

Updated: Nov 29, 2022

On the road again - our car is ready for South America
We get first insider tips for Uruguay from Swiss gauchos
Picturesque sunsets and enchanting birdlife at Laguna Rocha
Sea lion colonies, endless beaches and hip bars on Cabo Polonio
Surfing at Punta del Diablo in winter - not for the frostbite

Finally we can start! After some waiting time due to bureaucracy and repairs (>>> see our last blog) we are finally on the road with our camper. It feels so good to be able to get out into nature and be independent. Our first destination is the so-called Paraiso Suizo, a village where many Swiss emigrants live - including Silvia and Heinz for 27 years. On their huge property with horses, dogs, cats etc. right on the beach, they offer overnight facilities for overlanders (editor's note: overland travelers, often with their own vehicle, where the journey is the main goal). We definitely want to see this paradise and of course look forward to insider tips. There is an excellent opportunity for this at the aperitif. Every day, the two offer to join for a glass of wine at around 5 p.m. and chatter away inside out. For example, we learn that we went shopping in exactly the wrong supermarkets. The big chains, which have everything your heart desires and that is imported, are totally overpriced. It is much cheaper to shop at the local, small supermarkets or at the market. Of course we test it and it's true, conditionally. Basic groceries are indeed reasonable, but everything else, such as cosmetics, is still very expensive. On the parking space we meet an acquaintance again - Thorsten, whom we got to know in the office of our shipping agent Edoardo, is also stranded here. However, rather involuntarily, since the bed in his mobile home crashed. We help where we can, especially with good company :-) Curiously, all the overlanders we meet sooner or later have one or the other problem with the car... We hope we're done with that for now.

Paraiso Suizo Uruguay Montevideo Heinz Silvia Schweiz Overlander
Marion in Paraiso Suizo with Paco

After a few relaxing days we head north, always along the coast. Our first stop takes us to Laguna Rocha, a huge lagoon right by the sea. Lagoon in the front, beach in the back or vice versa. The place is a paradise for sunrises and sunsets. And there are so many different birds cavorting there - totally idyllic. Here we spend the night in almost complete solitude.

Laguna Rocha Uruguay Natur Paradies Geheimtips must see Montevideo Top Sehenswürdigkeiten
Hut at the Laguna Rocha

Afterwards we want to stop at Cabo Polonio. What exactly is hidden behind the place, we do not know. The pictures online definitely looked fantastic. About 7 km before the cape we are in front of an entry station. We are not allowed in here with our own car. There are only buses every 2 hours. Unfortunately, it's already afternoon, so the next departure is after the siesta at 3:30 p.m. However, we don't expect a normal bus ride, but a sandy track, which we drive with an old truck with rickety seats on the (open) loading area. A pretty bumpy affair. The last stretch to the cape we jet along the sandy beach. Colorful houses and hip bars in the middle of a wild beach landscape await us at the bus stop in the “town centre”. The cape is surrounded by the sea. We stroll through the fishing village and finally go to the lighthouse. And before we see them, we hear them. A whole colony of sea lions cavort here and lie around lazily on the rocks. Unfortunately, the last bus back leaves at 6 p.m., so we only have little time to explore the beautiful fishing village. If we had known that before, we would have stayed in one of the numerous hostels there.

Cabo Polonia Seelöwen Uruguay Natur Paradies Geheimtips must see Montevideo Top Sehenswürdigkeiten
Cabo Polonia - a real insider tipp

Die grösste Seelöwen Kolonie Uruguays Cabo Polonia Montevideo Highlights Uruguay Top Ziele Sehenswürdigkeiten Tiere Montevideo
Cabo Polonia - The largest colony of sea lions in Uruguay

Now we want to go to Punta del Diablo, one of the northernmost places on the Uruguayan coast, close to the border with Brazil. About 5 km from the beach, there is also a lagoon, the Laguna Negra. We enjoy the tranquility with a cup of mate tea. Then we drive to the campsite on the beach. In reality it is a huge recreational area with access to 5 different beaches where you can camp in several sections. Now in winter it's dead, we're almost alone. But the infrastructure with supermarkets, playgrounds, restaurants, etc. gives an idea of ​​what's going on here in high season. Lucky that we have the beautiful place to ourselves. We've read before that the beaches of Punta del Diablo are great for surfing. And as we explore the beach, we spontaneously decide that we'll give it a try. The surfboard is on our camper :-) Nothing is going on - no one and certainly no surfers there. The day is sunny and it feels like spring, but the water is 13 degrees. Uh... good thing we've got our thick wetsuits from Portugal on board. I would still have liked to have had a hood and neoprene shoes. But no pain, no gain. The waves are really good and after a few initial tries we got the hang of it. A "cool" thing. Afterward we really need a hot shower. Unfortunately it is out of service on the campsite in the off-season. At least, we have a heating in the camper.

Punta del Diablo Surfen Uruguay beste Strände Schönste Strände, Highlights Top Sehenswürdigkeiten
Let's go - a ride on the waves at 13 degrees and you're definitely awake

Punta del Diablo Uruguay Surfen Surfing, must see Highlights Top Sehenswürdigkeiten Traumstrände beste Strände
Splendid beach of Punta del Diablo all to ourselves

In the evening we make the decision, more or less spontaneously, that we are not yet ready for the cold Tierra del Fuego. We first want to go to Brazil, specifically to the Pantanal - the largest inland wetland on earth, which offers an incredible variety of species. Micha is already hot to get the Jaguar in front of the lens. You'll find out soon if he succeeds :-)

And finally some funny experiences in Uruguay:

The typical communication at every (really every!) gas station: Where are you from? From Germany! Gas station attendant: "Toni Krooss", Micha: "Luis Suárez", gas station attendant: "Schweinsteiger", Micha: "Edinson Cavani" and so on... Even if our Spanish skills do not yet allow us to communicate fluently, we always laughed a lot.

In between we could always communicate in German. There are an incredible number of German and Swiss emigrants. Uruguay is so popular as it is considered very safe and politically stable. And of course also because it is a beautiful country with lots of sun!

Since chocolate was so expensive in the supermarket (from 4.50 euros per 100 g), we discovered dulce de leche (a spread made from milk, sugar and vanilla) as a substitute.

We always had to plan a lot of time at the ATM. There were long queues in front of the big banks, as many Argentinians come to Uruguay to withdraw US dollars and block the machine for a long time due to the many transactions in a row.

There is at least one horse in almost every front yard in Uruguay. You don't even need a fence for that. A stake with a long rope is sufficient. Is that due to the high fuel prices (currently 1.60 euros/litre of diesel)?

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