Uruguay

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Flag of Uruguay Uruguay
Information
Language: Spanish
Capital: Montevideo
Population: 3,477,779
Currency: Uruguayan peso (UYU)
Hitchability: <rating country='uy' />
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<map lat='-32.6' lng='-55.5' zoom='6' view='0' height='300'/>

The Oriental Republic of Uruguay is a country in South America.

More than half of Uruguay's population is concentrated in the capital of Montevideo, meaning a very low population density in the country's interior. In the Uruguayan countryside you will doubtlessly encounter some of the most laid back, friendly folks you could imagine. Humble, generous and curious about anyone passing through, it is the people rather than the geography that make travel memorable in this overlooked corner of the continent. A stable, democratic country with low levels of corruption, high levels of education, and the noticeable absence of the class division, Uruguay is sometimes called the Switzerland of South America. The tranquility of the countryside and the openness of the people will leave an impression on any traveler. Uruguay is a relatively small country, so traveling from the top Northern city to Montevideo would not take much time. From Rivera (a border town with Brazil) to Montevideo is only 520 km.

Hitchhiking

Regarding hitchhiking and vagabonding, Uruguay's a pretty easy place to hang out. Many Uruguayan locals have hitchhiked through their country, and have had great experiences and good rides. Probably about 1 in 4 cars will give you a lift (outside of Montevideo). There are many stretches of desolate (but pretty) highway where you'll be lucky to see 4 cars pass in an hour. Expect long waits. The coast, from Chuy to Colonia del Sacramento, is more trafficked and therefore an easier place to get a lift. Along the way some cool towns, sand dunes, and even sea lions can be seen.

Cities

Sleeping out

Montevideo is the only city in the country where it's not recommended to sleep on the street, in the rest of the country you can sleep rough without a care. Football stadiums are recommended.

Food

Don't forget to try alfajores, a cookie-ish delicacy. And to maximize your experience, you'll need to drink a lot of mate. For Uruguayans, it is practically a religion. Everyone carries a thermos and a mate gourd pretty much everywhere they go. Me convidas con un mate? is a good way to start a conversation and make a new friend.

Chivitos is also an excellent choice in Uruguayan food. More a fast food, it is a huge flattened sandwich, that consists of 3 to 4 kinds of vegetables with a huge piece of meat. In towns, the chivitos will cost around 100-120 $U, and in Montevideo or more touristic places, it can range from 150 to 300 $U (May 2013).

Like in Argentina, Uruguay is also known for their traditional barbecues called asado. Especially in towns like Rivera or Tacuarembó, barbecues starts from 6 pm and meanwhile everybody drinks, sings and dances until the meat is gone, which will be already 10 pm. Expect to eat huge amounts of meat, especially in towns. One of their favorites is probably the sausage that has cheese inside it. A delicious treat ! Again, like in Argentina, the dulce de leche is very widely known.

Vegetarians can find pasta about anywhere for 5 US$ in restaurants, as well as lots of fruits. The water for the most part is safe to drink. Dumpster diving is a dream in Uruguay, except in the big cities (read more).

Personal Experience

There is very few traffic on the Uruguayan highways, hence the fact that the entire country only has 3.5 million inhabitants. We could not hitch a single ride on that day, and so we called it a night after it started getting dark. The next day we walked and hitched, and walked and hitched...until a truck picked us up, and took us all the way to Montevideo. Which was some 490 kilometers from where we were standing. Hitchhiking in Uruguay is definitely better then Argentina. -- (Tony Tung) trash:Uruguay