How to Go to Uruguay

Trip Start Jul 12, 2011
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Trip End Dec 19, 2011


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Flag of Uruguay  ,
Friday, September 30, 2011

I had to go to Uruguay this weekend to renew my passport, and as I write this I am drinking in the sights and sounds of beautiful Punta del Diablo ("The Devil's Point"), a small fishing village in eastern Uruguay. I can see the Atlantic Ocean from the front porch of the hostel I’m staying at, El Diablo Tranquilo (www.eldiablotranquilo.com), and just finished a good cup of the house coffee : ) It is nothing short of paradise – this is without question the most beautiful place I think I’ve ever visited in my life. It’s also not commercialized yet, which means that all good things are still normally priced (no tourist traps here!), and the people here at the hostel are very friendly and just plain cool.

So, how did I get here? Here’s how from B.A.:

1. Go to El Diablo Tranquilo’s website (www.eldiablotranquilo.com). You will look at it. Then you will fall in love with it. And then you will realize that you just HAVE to go to this paradise on the beach. Then book a reservation for the days you want to spend in Punta del Diablo. If you sleep in the group bunk rooms, a bunk goes for about $8 a night – a FANTASTIC deal! If you do that be sure to bring a sleep sheet, earplugs, and a sleep shade for your eyes. If you prefer to have your own room (which I did, and it has been AWESOME!) treat yourself and get one for $60/night if you go alone, or for $30/night if you go with a friend who’s willing to crash with you in the same room. Still a great deal!

2. Go to the Buquebus web site at least 3 days before your trip (www.buquebus.com) and book a passage on one of their ships to cross the Río de la Plata into Uruguay. Buy your tickets online at their site and print them out (if you’re at ISEDET, print it as a pdf to your computer, and then take it to the folks in the fotocopiadora – they can print them for you). Don’t worry about buying an expensive Primera ticket – just stick to the regular Tarifa Básica ones. I had a fantastic seat and the ride over the River Plate was simply beautiful. You can go across in their fast boat (a 1-hour ride), or in their slow boat (a 3-hour ride), depending on what times you need to depart. Take my advice and do the 1-hour. If you’re making a bus connection in Montevideo for another trip of a few hours, you’ll be glad you did. To get to Montevideo, you can take the boat to Colonia and also take a bus connection with Buquebus to Montevideo from there (those buses are REALLY nice!!! Highly Recommended!). Alternatively, you can go straight from B.A. into the port at Montevideo – however, if you’re making a connection, you may prefer the Colonia bus connection option, as it will take you straight into the Tres Cruces bus terminal. If you go straight to Montevideo’s port, you’ll have to hunt the bus terminal on your own.

2. Go to the Tres Cruces web site (www.trescruces.com.uy) and look up the departure times for the connection that you will be taking from Montevideo to Punta del Diablo. Various bus companies have buses that leave Tres Cruces for Punta del Diablo throughout the day. Find out which company is departing from Tres Cruces at your preferred time, and then look up that company on the list of Boleterías (ticket counters). Buy some Skype credit, call their phone number, and reserve a spot on the bus you need to take IN ADVANCE!!! It’s free, and it could prevent major headaches later.

3. EMAIL THE STAFF AT EL DIABLO TRANQUILO (staff@eldiablotranquilo.com), and let them know what time you will be arriving on the bus. They always send a person up to meet travelers at the bus stop when the buses come in, as long as they know you are coming. You will be glad they are there, especially if you arrive at night and have no idea where you are since you will have just spent 5 hours straight on a bus. Also, most of the staff are native English speakers, either from Britain or the States, so they will be able to help you take care of anything you may need if you’re Spanish isn’t great.

3. Add up how much the cost of a roundtrip ticket from Tres Cruces to Punta del Diablo will cost you, and be sure to bring that much with you in CASH. Card security is much less secure here in South America than in the States. Also, no one argues with you if you try to pay with cash – it’s received everywhere! : ) It won’t be much – round trip only cost me USD$33! And that’s for a 5 HOUR bus ride!

4. Add up how much you want to spend on food, activities, etc. during your time in Punta del Diablo. Double it. Bring that with you in cash. Group dinners in the evening at El Diablo Tranquilo are AMAZING, and relatively cheap (you get steak, etc. for under USD$10, but note that this is a hostel bar so you won’t have a choice in what you’re having that night). You can have all of the choice in the world, however, in regard to what you’re drinking (I haven’t had a bad drink since I got here), as the EDT staff takes care to keep their full bar well-stocked. If you want more of a choice in what you’ll be eating, just walk down to one of the many restaurants at the beach and buy a meal for around USD$10. Horseback riding goes for USD$40 for a 3-hour trip with Fabian, the local guide. I did this and it’s one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had in my life. Do it. You’ll be glad you did. Also, rent a wetsuit and surfboard from the folks at the Hostel, and get some surfing lessons! While you’re at it, volunteer with Karumbe, a volunteer project that works with sea turtles. Or go to the fort at Santa Teresa and explore (it costs USD$20 to enter the fort). Look up more things to do at www.lonelyplanet.com (search for “Punta del Diablo”).

5. Pack your bags and TAKE OUT YOUR CASH from the ATM in the Disco Supermarket near ISEDET or from the HSBC branch on Ave. Rivadavia that is 3 blocks from ISEDET. Don’t forget your passport, as well as any vaccination information that may be required to enter Uruguay (check the CDC website for country-specific information).

6. Go to the Buquebus dock in Puerto Madero. It’s located at the intersection of Av. Antártida Argentina and C. Grierson. If you want to take the Subte, take the Subte to station L. N. Alem on the Línea B. Or, hop onto one of these buses which will take you near the terminal: 6, 20, 22, 26, 28, 33, 50, 54, 56, 61, 62, 91, 93, 99, 109, 115, 126, 129, 130, 132, 140, 143, 152, or the 195. If in doubt, just go to the Retiro bus station and hail a cab. Say “¡Buquebus – al muelle! (“to the dock!”),” and you’re off!

7. When you get to Tres Cruces, IMMEDIATELY EXCHANGE YOUR ARGENTINE PESOS FOR URUGUAYAN PESOS at the Cambio. Just exchange all your cash – you won’t need Argentine pesos while you’re in Uruguay (duh.). Then, go to the counter of the company you made the ticket reservation with, and buy the Ida y Vuelta (“To Trip and Return Trip”, i.e. Round-Trip) with your new pesos. They will tell you the number of the platform your bus will be leaving from. If you need to, ask them to write this information down for you (I did).

8. Get on the bus, ask the driver to advise you when the bus arrives in Punta del Diablo (there are several stops along the way, not to stretch your legs but to let people on and off the bus at different stops) and enjoy your trip! It will be the trip of a lifetime, I can guarantee it!!! When you get to the hostel, be sure to greet the people you meet and get to know them. You will make some great friends, and will have a blast.

¡Buen viaje!

-Will
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