Uruguay and Paraguay Tours

Why visit? Wedged between the major tourist magnets of Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay might not be the most obvious destination springing to mind when planning a trip to South America, however, if you want to explore the road less travelled, you should not miss out on exploring this fascinating offbeat gem as part of your South America tour. Paraguay too is often passed by, despite its location right in the heart of South America, bordered by Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia. If you’re looking to take the road less travelled and discover a hidden gem, then Paraguay should feature in your South America travels.
 
Uruguay lies only a one hour fast ferry ride from Buenos Aires making the latter the perfect starting point for any Uruguay or multi-country tour.
 
Once off the ferry, start your Uruguay tour in the UNESCO World Heritage listed seaside town of Colonia, one of Uruguay’s oldest and most picturesque towns famed for its cobble-stoned streets lined with beautiful colonial buildings.
 
Montevideo, the capital city of Uruguay, offers the perfect combination of charm, culture and style while a short trip to Punta del Este, the “Monaco of South America” will impress with its glamour, lively nightlife and its miles of beautiful beaches and natural attractions.
 
From cosmopolitan city life to coastal surf towns or traditional agricultural centres, a Uruguay tour holds everything you need and more for the perfect South American getaway.
 
With flights to Asuncion from many major South American cities including Buenos Aires, Lima, Sao Paulo and Montevideo, Paraguay can easily be built into a multi-country itinerary.
 
Paraguay was once the wealthiest nation in South America and Asuncion, the capital, is full of architectural delights that highlight the former glory of this fascinating and historic city. Within easy reach of Asuncion is Ybycuí National Park, a sub-tropical rainforest with waterfalls, wildlife and the ruins of ‘La Rosada’ iron foundry.
 
Another of Paraguay’s highlights are the Jesuit ruins that date back to the early 1600’s when Jesuit missionaries came to Paraguay to evangelize the locals. Now UNESCO listed, the Jesús and Trinidad ruins are a fascinating insight into the country’s history.
 
How to get there? Access has never been easier for Australians with three top-ranked airlines (LATAM, Air New Zealand and Qantas) providing regularly scheduled services to Buenos Aires. QANTAS and Air New Zealand provide the quickest and easiest route to Argentina with only one stop along the way – Auckland for Air New Zealand and Santiago for QANTAS. With LATAM, travellers stop in two cities, Auckland and Santiago.
 
More information: Below we have shown you just a fraction of the options available for Uruguay, Paraguay and multi-country travel. Browse to get an idea of where you want to travel.
 
Still wondering? Contact us:  You are definitely better off giving us a call or dropping us a line and letting us do the hard work for you.
 
#Livefortoday and book your Uruguay or Paraguay tour with us today. Chimu Adventures is Australia’s leading Latin America and Polar specialist and can put together an itinerary to suit you.
 
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Uruguay and Paraguay Reviews

All Chimu Adventures' clients are given the opportunity to review their trip once they return home. These reviews are administered by a third party and as such are unfiltered by Chimu Adventures.

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Montevideo is a delight Had a really interesting time in Montevideo. its real easy to get about the colonial city and so many wonderful buildings and museums (though watch out for opening times, as sometimes get misleading info)to see. People are friendly and helpful. Hotel was centrally located. Some parts of city are run down but still architecturally good. It felt safe to walk about.
Date published: 2017-06-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wish I had stayed longer We only took a day trip to Colonia and it was beautiful. I wish I had known more about the options in Uruguay as I think it would be worth seeing more of it. We had a wonderful guide for the day and it was a relaxed and enjoyable day trip from Buenos Aires.
Date published: 2018-10-13
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Country Information

When to go to Uruguay
  • Uruguay is officially called the República Oriental del Uruguay (Eastern Republic of Uruguay).
  • Uruguay is ranked first in Latin America in democracy, peace, lack of corruption and quality of living.
  • The population of Uruguay is around 3.3 million with 1.8 million living in the metropolitan area of the capital Montevideo.
  • Uruguay is the 2nd smallest country in South America after Suriname.
  • The name Uruguay means "river of the colourful birds".
  • Uruguay’s National Anthem is the world’s longest national anthem.
  • Uruguay was the 1st country in the world to legalise the marijuana trade (to citizens of Uruguay over 18 years of age).
  • Cows outnumber people in Uruguay by 3 to 1.
  • Montevideo is the southernmost capital city in the Americas and the 3rd most southerly in the world after Canberra and Wellington.
  • The first Football World Cup took place in Uruguay in 1930
Weather in Uruguay

The only known inhabitants of Uruguay before European colonisation were the Charrua tribe. The Portuguese discovered the region in 1512 with the Spanish arriving a few years later in 1516. Due to the country’s lack of silver and gold and resistance by the indigenous people, settlement was limited during the 16th an 17th centuries and Uruguay remained largely uninhabited.

The Spanish introduced cattle in 1603 and established their first permanent settlement at Soriano on the Rio Negro in 1624. The Portuguese established Colonia del Sacramento in 1680. Montevideo was founded by the Spanish in 1726 as a military stronghold and seized the country from Portugal in 1778. During the early 19th century there were ongoing fights for dominance in the Argentina-Brazil-Uruguay region by the Spanish, Portuguese, British and other colonial forces. In 1806 and 1807 the British tried to seize Montevideo and a British Force occupied the city in 1807.

Uruguay won its independence between 1811 and 1828 following a lengthy struggle between Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Brazil. Uruguay revolted against Spain in 1811 but was then conquered by the Portuguese from Brazil in 1817. Independence was won back in 1825 with help from Argentina and the republic established in 1828.

More strife followed with a revolt in 1836, a civil war from 1839 to 1851 and a war with Paraguay between 1865 and 1851, as well as the occasional armed intervention by Argentina and Brazil. Between 1875 and 1886, the military became the centre of power.

Uruguay Culture & Customs

Uruguay is South America’s second smallest country. Bordered by Argentina to the west, Brazil to the north and east, with the Atlantic Ocean to the south and southeast, the country has 660kms of coastline. The landscape is mainly rolling plains, low hill ranges and fertile coastal lowlands. The main internal river is the Rio Negro (Black River).

The country can be divided into 4 main regions. The Atlantic coastal region includes La Paloma and Punta del Este. Rio de la Plata in the southwest of the country is the region bordering the Rio de la Plata, an estuary of the Uruguay River that forms the western border. It includes the capital Montevideo and Colonia. The Northern Interior is gaucho country and a citrus growing region with land crossings to Argentina. The Central Interior is an agricultural region with land crossings to Brazil and huge dams on the Rio Negro.

Uruguay lies within the temperate zone and has a relatively uniform climate throughout the year. Due to the lack of mountains all parts of the country are subject to rapid changes in weather. The high abundance of water results in high humidity and fog being common.

Cerro Catedral, at 514 metres, is Uruguay’s highest point.

Uruguay’s natural resources include arable land, hydropower, minor minerals and fish.

Uruguay History

Uruguayan culture is strongly European with the majority of Uruguayans (over 90%) being of European descent. Most are descendants of immigrants from Spain, Italy, France, Germany and Britain. About ¼ of the population is of Italian origin. Amerindian traits can also be found throughout Uruguayan culture, from cuisine to vocabulary.

Spanish is the first language of Uruguay with Portunal or Brasilero, a mixture of Portuguese and Spanish being used on the Brazil border. Uruguayan Spanish used does have a few modifications due to the high numbers of Italian immigrants. The immigrants used to speak a mixture of Spanish and Italian known as "cocoliche". No indigenous languages are thought to exist in Uruguay.

Uruguay has no official religion but the predominant religion is Roman Catholic, with about 46% of the population practicing Catholicism.

The influences from southern Europe are particularly important in Uruguayan culture. The tradition of the gaucho (cattle herder) has also been important in art and folklore. The folk and popular music of Uruguay shares its gaucho and tango roots with Argentina.

The cuisine of Uruguay has mainly Spanish but also Italian influences. Beef is fundamental to the cuisine with asado, a type of barbecued beef being the national dish. The "chivito" is the most popular food item - a thick steak sandwich with ham, bacon, hard-boiled egg, cheese and tomatoes or olives for seasoning. The national drink is mate, a herbal tea.

Uruguay Geography

Due to its abundance of suitable grazing land, Uruguay has cattle herds totalling around 12 million head. Cattle and sheep farming occupy about 60% of the land. Uruguay is one of the world’s largest producers of soybeans, greasy wool, beeswax and quinces. It is also an important global exporter of frozen beef, rice, malt and milk. Other main exports include cellulose, wheat, timber and dairy products. Its main export partners are Brazil, China, Argentina and Germany.

Uruguay experienced serious economic and financial difficulties between 1999 and 2002 mainly as a result of the economic problems in neighbouring Argentina. But the country managed to avoid a recession and retained positive growth rates. It diversified its export markets to reduce dependency on Argentina and Brazil.

Since 2002, poverty has been reduced from 33% to around 18.5% in 2010. Extreme poverty is below 2%.

Tourism & Sustainability

Uruguay is a democratic constitutional republic with a presidential system, the president serving as both head of state and head of government. The country is divided into 19 departments. Universal suffrage is granted to those 18 years of age and is compulsory.

Uruguay has experienced its share of political instability over the years. In the late 1960’s, a violent Marxist urban guerrilla movement called the Tupamaros was launched, causing the country’s president to hand over control of the government to the military in 1973. The rebels were crushed that same year but the military continued to expand its hold over the government. It was not until 1985 that civilian rule was restored. The Frente Amplio Coalition won the national elections in 2004, effectively ending 170 years of political control held by the liberal Colorado (Reds) and conservative Blanco (Whites) parties.

Uruguay Food & Drink
  • Carlos Páez Vilaró - Painter & Sculptor
  • Pedro Figari - Post Impressionist Painter
  • Gerardo Matos Rodriguez - Composer
  • Jose Enrique Rodo - Author
  • Eduardo Galeano - Author
  • China Zorrilla - Actress
  • Enzo Francescoli & Diego Forlan - Soccer Players
  • Mario Benedetti - Journalist
  • Ruben Rada - Composer & Singer
  • Carlo Gardel - Actor & Singer
  • Horacio Quiroga - Author
  • Jose Gervasio Artigas - Revolutionary Leader

Frequently Asked Questions

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