Cattle ranches, big open skies, vineyards, olive groves, sleepy cobble-street towns and an immaculate coastline – diminutive Uruguay exudes charm and character.
The Uruguayans are famously laidback – yet also among South America’s warmest hosts. Explore the pretty Portuguese village of Colonia del Sacramento, the crumbling old town and bustling port of Montevideo and the hippie-chic fishing villages of Jose Ignacio, La Pedrera and Cabo Polonio. Those who like to put themselves as far off the beaten track as possible can head for the rarely-visited interior for a taste of local estancia life, tumbleweed towns and gaucho rodeos.
To the north, cactus forests and lunar landscapes give way to subtropical jungle, wetlands and waterfalls.
To the south, Patagonia, one of the great unspoilt wildernesses of the world, embraces snow-capped peaks and crystalline lakes, immense glaciers and the windswept steppe of Tierra del Fuego.