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How did you get there?

I flew with Air Europa via Madrid. Another option would be with Iberia via Madrid or you can combine with Argentina and take the boat from Buenos Aires to Colonia or Montevideo.

Whereabouts in Uruguay did you go?

I started in the capital of Montevideo, then to colonial Colonia, then Carmelo for some excellent wine tasting and then the coast before venturing north to the interior of Uruguay.

What was your overall impression of the country like?

There was a laid back feel to travel in Uruguay and you feel a slower pace of life, there’s never any real rush to go anywhere with lunches often taking a few hours. The people are incredibly friendly and welcoming and love to show off their beautiful country.

Had you been before? If so, any notable differences?

I had been before but over 20 years ago - the country's changed a lot since then!

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WHICH WAS YOUR FAVOURITE:

Place: Probably Carmelo as it surprised me by offering so much more than I was expecting. The wineries offered a more personal experience where, more often than not, you’d meet the wine makers/owners and they tended to be smaller, family run operations so you really felt like you were getting to know the true Uruguayan wineries.

Hotel: I can’t decide on my favourite hotel as it’s between 2 estancias – Estancia Vik and Estancia Los Platanos. These estancias are completely different but both offer such rich experiences. Estancia Vik is the ultimate in luxury properties in Uruguay and somewhere you feel immersed in the countryside whilst indulged at the same time. After a day exploring either by horse, foot or bike, you work up an appetite and coming back to an open fire with the smell of the traditional parrilla wafting through the estancia was amazing. Being close to the coast (just 20 minutes) was great as it offered a mixture of scenery and experiences.

Los Platanos is much more rustic and feels like a home from home. The welcome you receive is second to none and the owners make the whole experience interesting and thoroughly enjoyable. You can hike on the farm property, go horse riding and learn about this working farm in a natural, unforced way. You can enjoy a glass of wine before dinner with other guests and share stories before being treated to some of the best home cooked meals.

Excursion: Discovering the art of Uruguay! Pablo Atchugary founded the Atchugary Foundation in 2007 with the aim of making art accessible to all. He’s one of Uruguay’s most famous artists (he designed Montevideo’s airport) and in 2022, he inaugurated the MACA museum and sculpture park which can be visited from Punta del Este. Another place near Punta del Este is Casapueblo, the former summer house of Uruguayan artist Carlos Paez Vilaro – well worth a visit!

What were your most memorable moments?

The most memorable moments in Uruguay were meeting the owners of small wineries or olive oil farms and experiencing a more authentic side to South America. La Vigna cheese farm near Colonia is a great example of this where the friendly Argentine owners welcome you as you arrive, show you around their farm and tell you about how they went from being an architect to expert cheese maker…and of course let you sample delicious cheeses!

What tips do you have for travellers wanting to visit the same destinations?

The overall season in Uruguay is relatively short from November to March/April with the busiest season being over Christmas and New Year. I would recommend visiting at the start or end of the season when you still have good weather but it’s a bit quieter. It’s worth travelling around the country as it has a lot to offer and hiring a car would be perfect to explore at your own pace (just make sure you agree on a designated driver before the winery visit though!).

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Is there anything indispensable to pack or prepare for?

Take insect repellent especially for dusk. Get ready to truly relax.

Any local snacks, dishes or drinks that should be sampled?

You will never go hungry in Uruguay! Uruguayans are proud of their beef and there are even 3 cows for every person in the country. The meat is organic, grass fed and extremely good.

Dulce de leche is on the dessert menu at most places and is very hard to resist!

The local wine is called Tannat and is a full bodied, robust red wine which pairs excellently with red meat.

A local drink is called Mate – a tea brewed with hot water and certainly an acquired taste.

Any restaurant or bar recommendations?

There are so many great restaurants; a few favourites included El Palenque in the port market of Montevideo (buzzing atmosphere at lunch) and La Huella in José Ignacio (a must and ranked among Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants).

Sum up your trip in a sentence?

Switch off from life back home, embrace the Uruguayan relaxed attitude and enjoy a proper holiday!

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