What's the best way to book a trip to Uruguay?

 

Q. I'm keen to visit Punta del Este and/or Montevideo in Uruguay, ideally as a package holiday. But I can't find any operators that do it. And even if I could, would booking individual flights and accommodation be a better strategy? It seems amazing that BA still don't fly direct! Russ Williams, London

A. Uruguay is one of the minnows of South America. Yet it is a great destination for gentle exploration and delivers very good value. The capital, Montevideo, is smaller and more relaxed than most in Latin America. While it has few must-see sights, it is a friendly and fascinating place to explore – and is blessed with a superb beachfront looking over the River Plate estuary.

Even more alluring for beach life is the world-class resort strip of Punta del Este, 60 miles east, where the waterfront reaches the Atlantic proper.

Deep inland, beyond the ranches that give a Wild West feel to the nation's interior, lies Fray Bentos. The town that became synonymous with corned beef possesses remarkable industrial archaeology.

The jewel of Uruguay, though, is the town of Colonia del Sacramento on the River Plate. It was originally a Portuguese settlement, and as you wander through its exquisite colonial core you can peel back the centuries.

So, a great destination, but how best to organise your trip? There are no traditional package holidays from the UK and direct flights from London to Montevideo fell off the route map many years ago. But there is an easy solution in the shape of Buenos Aires. Argentina's capital is accessible non-stop from Heathrow and is only an hour by ferry from Colonia. You can also build in the priceless opportunity of spending a day or two in one of South America's great cities.

The southern hemisphere is enjoying high summer now, but in terms of prices and availability, March is an ideal month to visit. The cheapest option is to stitch together your own itinerary using a decent guidebook, but a specialist such as Journey Latin America can tailor-make a trip for you with added expertise.

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