South America Days 14-16: Driving around Uruguay

11 December 2012 512 km / 318 mi (map)

  • Added to Eric Scouten :: Travel on 7 January 2023
  • Uruguay 4

We’ve spent the last few days driving around and exploring various parts of rural Uruguay before winding up in the coastal resort community of Punta del Este.

On our second day in Montevideo, we decided to go for a drive in the countryside. We didn’t really stop for photos on that day, but we were struck by the resemblance to the rolling hills of midwestern farm country. Aside from some differences of building style, we could easily have been in rural Minnesota or South Dakota.

Punta del Este, where we’re staying now, is an upscale resort community about a two-hour drive from Montevideo. It’s obvious as you drive into town that this is where the money flows to in Uruguay. There are miles upon miles of gleaming towers of beach-view condo buildings, probably catering to wealthy foreign visitors or immigrants. Aside from the roads being a little rougher and (some of) the signs being in Spanish, you could easily fool yourself into thinking you were in an American resort community.

There’s an interesting halo effect, though, in that the coastal communities for 50 km / 30 miles or so either side of Punta del Este have a very nice relaxed but still upscale feel to it. Or at least it did when we were there. We intentionally missed the “high season” of January.

Piriápolis, Uruguay
Punta Colorada, Uruguay
Punta Colorada, Uruguay
Punta Colorada, Uruguay
Punta Ballena, Uruguay
Manantiales, Uruguay · by Tara Scouten

The lighthouse picture above was taken in the quiet fishing village of José Ignacio, about 30 km / 20 miles northeast of Punta del Este. I joked to Tara, “Welcome to Mendocino,” as we drove into town (a reference to Mendocino, California, one of our favorite hangouts when we can find a bit of extra time in the Golden State). I’ve since learned that José Ignacio leads a double life as a celebrity/socialite getaway in January, but there was almost no sign of that in early December.

Forever Is Composed of Nows · Faro Punto José Ignacio, José Ignacio, Uruguay

Garlic shrimp for lunch · Lo de Charlie, Manantiales, Uruguay
Manantiales, Uruguay

around rural Uruguay · 512 km / 318 mi
(Mouse over or tap on the markers to see the photos there.)

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