Guru’Guay Guide to Uruguay: Beaches, ranches & wine country

Guru'Guay travel guidebooks have passion + soul—not endless dry lists—for a stress-free, unforgettable holiday. Foodies, this is YOUR guide.
By Karen A Higgs
Uruguay Travel Guide | Karen Higgs
Last updated on November 1, 2017

Guru'Guay Guide to Uruguay: Beaches, Ranches and Wine CountryWritten by a Brit with all the contacts and knowledge accrued over almost twenty years living in Uruguay, the new Guru’Guay Guide to Beaches, Ranches and Wine Country (184-pages, Nov 2017) will make your holiday planning stress-free and ensure you have an unforgettable time in one of South America’s least-explored destinations.

The Guru’Guay Guides are not endless dry lists. They have soul and passion. You have limited time. So the author selects only the very best or the most curious places to check out. Compared to other guidebooks, the Guru’Guay guide goes into serious detail–so that you can make great decisions regarding where to go and what to do – but in an easy-to-read way. Readers talk about sitting down and reading a Guru’Guay guide from start to finish in one go.

The guide describes destinations from a local’s perspective, analyses when to visit according to your preferences, where to stay (the guide only recommends outstanding accommodation), where to eat (other guides include what the author managed to get to, the Guru has selected eateries over a year) and how to get there (including road conditions and estimated driving times – GoogleMaps can be waaay out in the countryside). The book highlight things the locals do and all-important “what you should know” advisories about each destination.

Uruguay’s  beaches – empty for most of the year

Uruguay has an extremely short high season when glamour puss hot spots team with Brazilian magnates and Argentine super models. The remaining ten months of the year you’ll have the entire beach pretty much to yourself. Roam the sandy streets of hippie hideaways in Rocha, commune with nature in the almost Hebridean solitude of Cabo Polonio surrounded by thousands of seals and check out Jose Ignacio, a laid-back former fishing town frequented by the likes of Mark Zuckerberg and Shakira.

The guide looks at each beach, describing when to visit (crucial if you want to avoid the crowds), where to stay (including detailed advice on what you should know if you plan to rent) and where to eat. Off-season most seaside restaurants and hotels close down. The author is on a mission to improve the Uruguayan beach economy and make tourism a year-round activity so the guide only includes excellent hotels and restaurants that stay open all year round.

Gaucho country – step back into a kinder, gentler time

Uruguayans refer to anywhere beyond Montevideo and the coast as “the interior” or “Uruguay profundo”. As you head into Deep Uruguay, the land is virtually untouched by development and on the two-lane highways you may cross more gauchos on horseback than you do cars. Take a few days to step back into a kinder, gentler time. The best way is to spend a few nights on one of Uruguay’s traditional cattle and sheep ranches known as estancias.

The Guru’Guay guide covers seven estancies, to suit all tastes – from a rustic ranch owned by a gaucho couple who make ends meet by taking in visitors (they love to show you how they live), to the grand estancia of an Austrian-Uruguayan family with a lovely pool and capybaras in the garden, to a ‘million-star’ vegetarian inn specialising in adventurous horse rides, set in an alternative life-style community in the stunning hills of Rocha.

And there’s an inspired chart to help you choose the estancia that best suits your dream holiday.

Uruguay has the friendliest wineries

If you’re wondering why you haven’t tried Uruguayan wine yet, it may be because the entire wine production of Uruguay is equivalent that of just one medium-size vineyard in neighbouring Argentina! In the last couple of decades wine-making has professionalised and Uruguayan wines are winning international recognition. However a visit to a winery in Uruguay is still a uniquely friendly and personal experience. Your host will often be the actual owner or wine-maker, the great grand son or daughter of Italian immigrants. These are people who produce their award-winning wines themselves and bottle and label them by hand. There’s no standing on ceremony. No pomposity. Just love of wine.

The book covers wineries in Uruguay’s three most prominent wine-producing regions. Small-scale rule-breaking vineyards perfect to pair with a beach holiday. Vineyards clustered together in Carmelo, a rural town in western Uruguay, making it simple for you to organise your own three-night wine immersion programme (so to speak). Then there are wineries just minutes from Montevideo including Uruguay’s most popular fine wine producer with vineyards in Uruguay and France to a family concern that offers yoga under the full moon followed by wine-tasting.

The dedicated wine traveller will love the lists of the best Uruguayan wines ranked by local connoisseurs to use to put together your own itinerary.

For foodies – this is your guide

This is where the Guru’Guay guide really comes into its own. Only a book written by a local with vast contacts with chefs, foodwriters and local gastronomy experts could uncover eateries like these in Uruguay – a country primarily known for its beef up until now. Places like an 18-seat bistro in an urban backstreet minutes from downtown Punta del Este run by an ex-motorbike mechanic whom chefs are saying is the most exciting thing to hit Uruguay culinarily in years. Or the sumptuous non-profit restaurant in a rural backwoods established and presided over by the local strong man desirous for a top-notch place to dine at every day. Or the best little foodtruck on the road between the airport and the beach.

Practical tips

The guide is full of practical information to make your stay stress-free and save you money. Chapters include:

  • Getting to Uruguay including flying, taking the ferry or coming overland
  • Holidays and festivals includes a selection of the best festivals to check out and where to stay to be closest by
  • What to wear Do yourself a favour and leave the formal clothes at home. Uruguayans dress down even at the most exclusive of destinations. The Guru advises you so that you save space in your luggage for the wine you’re going to want to bring back
  • Driving and car hire See why the Guru does not advise having a car in Montevideo but does for the rest of the country
  • Public transport Tips for getting around by bus and how ride apps are strongly regulated
  • Food and drink Get an idea of what eating out costs, mealtimes and ten traditional dishes you must try at the beach and on the estancia
  • Personal safety Dispells myths you may have come across in your online research
  • Staying healthy Essential tips including on tobacco and marijuana smoking etiquette
  • Money and tipping including the weirdest ATM withdrawal hacks that have actually worked

Why choose a Guru’Guay guide

All the other international English-language guidebooks about Uruguay are written by authors who jet in for a few weeks and then leave. Sometimes they don’t even speak Spanish. The author of the Guru’Guay guides is a Brit who has lived almost twenty years in Montevideo and has accrued all the contacts and secret destinations that only a local could have. Guru’Guay is part of Uruguay Natural, the official country brand of Uruguay.

Unlike any other guidebook, because we’re based in Uruguay we’ll keep you up to date with any changes to the book’s content. The book contains the website address for updates.

Should you also buy the Guru’Guay Guide to Montevideo?

This guidebook includes an eight-page chapter on the capital. However if you are planning to stay more than two nights (and you should!) get the city guide too. It also includes much more information on Uruguayan society and culture.

Praise for The Guru’Guay Guides

“This guide is not your typical Lonely Planet-style with endless dry lists of things to do/see/eat. It has soul and passion too.”

“Full of real information from an actual local. No travel writers sent in to write about a place they have been to once. If you are going to Uruguay you must get this book. If you are not going to Uruguay, get this book to convince yourself to go.”

“This book is not like other travel guides that need to be ploughed through. It’s written in such a friendly way.”

“We moved here six months ago, and this book continues to be my point of reference for life in Uruguay.”

“Besides the great practical advice, we indulged in some of the author’s recommendations, which were spot on.”

Where to buy The Guru’Guay Guides

Guru’Guay Guide to Uruguay: Beaches, Ranches and Wine Country on Amazon

Guru’Guay Guide to Montevideo on Amazon




6 Responses

  1. After more than a decade in Atlántida, we are delighted to find a treasure trove of new places and businesses in Karen´s wonderful new guide book on Beaches, Ranches and Wine Country. We have travelled to every department in Uruguay in our time here, yet, just opening a few pages, reveals how much we´ve missed, some things astonishingly close to where we live. This is a book for visitors, but it is also, most assuredly, a book for people living here already. We are an obvious example.

  2. Thank you so much for writing such a fun and informative guide to this marvelous country. How wonderful to have all the secret and not so secret places all in one book. Though we have lived here for nearly 10 years, you’re book has made us excited to explore this country even more and share it with our family and friends.

    Thanks again for a great guide book to a Uruguay. Wishing you all the best, Karen

    1. Ohhhh, Karen – this has made my writing the book worth it!! I’m just DELIGHTED. And coming from another long term resident makes it all the more valuable. Thank you!! — Karen (the other one 🙂 )

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related articles

Copy link