Punta del Diablo and the Uruguay Coast

Punta del Diablo Travel Blog

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The beach at Punta del Diablo

The bus left Montevideo behind and with it most of the signs of civilization as buildings gave way to empty fields and cattle. Except for a few small cities up the coast there wasn´t much to see in the flat countryside. I decided to skip the famous resort town of Punta del Este because it was off-season and it would have been only a ghost town, and with nicer beaches up the coastline I didn´t see much reason to stop. I had decided to stop in Punta del Diablo, only 40km from the Brazilian border, so that I could experience some of the Uruguay coast and attempt to get my visa for Brazil, which had proved not so simple to do in Buenos Aires and Montevideo. In Buenos Aires the Brazilian consulate wanted copies of bank statements, credit cards, proof of onward travel (which I don´t have), and perhaps a processing time of up to 10 business days.

Palm tree lined road in Parque Santa Teresa
I decided that it wasn´t worth the trouble and that I would try again in Montevideo. Well in Montevideo the processing time was only 48 business hours but in addition to all the other documents they wanted proof of how you plan to enter the country. Since I was planning on walking across the border I didn´t see how I could provide this, and as I arrived on a Friday I would have had to wait until Monday to even file all the paperwork so I decided to put it off again until the border.

So Punta del Diablo. Despite the intimidating name it is really a tranquil place, especially in the off-season when the population drops from a summer high of around 20,000 to about 800. Lots of things close and there was only one place to stay that was actually open.

The fort in Parque Santa Teresa
The beaches were utterly deserted up and down the coast and quite picturesque. During the day the weather was perfectly warm enough to lay out in the sun although the water was a little bit cold. The town is close to a Uruguayan national park, Parque Santa Teresa, which is within a few hours walking distance up the beach. The park has the remnants of an old Spanish and Portugese fort that is located up on a small hill and has commanding views over the surrounding plains. The rest of the park has palm-tree lined roads and without hordes of people was so peaceful and pleasant. There wasn´t much to do in the evening as there were only a few other people in town but the nights were clear and because of the town´s remoteness it was dark enough to see an amazing panorama of stars.
The wall of the fort
 Sitting on the empty beach amidst total quiet, save for the rolling of the waves, and looking up and watching shooting stars was very fitting.

There are several other coastal towns south of Punta del Diablo such as Cabo de Polonia and La Paloma which are also popular summer destinations. I had wanted to visit these towns but the problem was that my ATM card wouldn´t work at the one ATM in Chuy, the border town with Brazil, because it was a Visa card and a Mastercard ATM. It didn´t work in Chui, the Brazilian side, because it didn´t have some kind of electronic chip for the one ATM and the other was just not functioning, plus the one bank that doesn´t accept foreign cards.

The fort at Parque Santa Teresa
The banks wouldn´t give me money either and told me to go to the next town in, about 20km, which I couldn´t do because I didn´t have a visa, yet. 

I found all this out when I went to the Brazilian consulate in Chuy to try to get my visa. Chuy itself is a typical border town with loads of duty free shops and an street that runs right along the border, with one side being Uruguay and called Avenida Brasil and the other side in Brazil called Avenida Uruguay. Of course all the streets running perpendicular to this road have different names in each country, making things very confusing. And the Portugese was another thing that I had almost forgotten about. Suddenly, even one block into Brazil, I could hardly understand anything the people were saying, and I knew almost no Portugese except for the words that are similar to the Spanish ones.

Coastline north of Punta del Diablo
On my paper it may look very similar to Spanish but when spoken the pronounciation is totally different and similarly spelled words sound very different. I spoke Spanish and they spoke back in Portugese and sometimes we spoke a little English and somehow this mix of Portuspanglish worked out.

For the visa, I was worried about all the documentation that they might ask me to provide for the visa but compared to the other places, getting the visa was amazingly simple: all I needed was to fill out the form (many of the questions I left blank such as address in Brazil), give them one passport photo, and pay about 3,000 Uruguayan pesos, and wait about an hour to get the visa, nothing more. But to get those pesos I had to change almost all the US dollars that I had, leaving me only $40, about 1,500 Uruguayan pesos, and 250 Argentine pesos.

The moon above the sand dunes in Punta del Diablo
After inquiring about other banks and finding out there wasn´t another bank with a Visa ATM for several hours, and maybe not even until Montevideo. As I was planning on traveling through the back roads of Brazil to get up to Iguazu Falls there was no guarantee of finding a functional ATM for some time so I was forced to change most of the money that I had, save for some Argentine pesos that I´d need later, into Reals and hope that I could either find a functional ATM or make it to Argentina before I ran out of money. Not being able to spare any more money to see more of the Uruguay coast I packed my bags and caught a bus to Brazil border the next morning.

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The beach at Punta del Diablo
The beach at Punta del Diablo
Palm tree lined road in Parque San…
Palm tree lined road in Parque Sa…
The fort in Parque Santa Teresa
The fort in Parque Santa Teresa
The wall of the fort
The wall of the fort
The fort at Parque Santa Teresa
The fort at Parque Santa Teresa
Coastline north of Punta del Diablo
Coastline north of Punta del Diablo
The moon above the sand dunes in P…
The moon above the sand dunes in …
Canons inside the fort
Canons inside the fort
More deserted coastline
More deserted coastline
Inside the fort
Inside the fort
Punta del Diablo
photo by: AndySD