What sort of adventures?" asked Dick in surprise. "It seems such a quiet place that I shouldn't have thought there was even a small adventure to be found!"
The children took Dick to the window. "Look, Dick," said Jo. "Do you see that thick, dark wood over there, backing on to the lane at the bottom of our garden?"
"Yes," said Dick. "It seems quite ordinary to me, except that the leaves of the trees seem a darker green than usual."
"Well, listen, Dick - that's the Enchanted Wood!" said Bessie.
From The Magic Faraway Tree, by Enid Blyton
Do you remember your childhood stories about adventure? I do. The Famous Five were a major feature as were Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. I aspired to be them. I wanted to find my own "Magic Faraway Tree" and create some adventures of my own.
These days, technology and modern inventions have changed things a bit. Whether in a story or on vacation, you can push adventure to the Nth degree. There are gadgets and gizmos specifically designed to give you that intense adrenalin rush you're seeking: you can zorb down steep hills; bungy jump off bridges; rollercoaster yourself sick; jump out of aeroplanes; or dive with sharks.
But what if you don't want that? What if you're craving some good old-fashioned adventure instead?
I mean it really does sound kinda boring. What are you going to do? Go hiking? I can do that home.
So what makes for old-fashioned travel and adventure in Uruguay? Is it just hiking and the like? Well... yes and no. Yes because walking, hiking, sailing, and other similar activities are all part of the adventure. But no, because Uruguay is definitely not boring. Why? Well unlike the whizz bang adventures where your adrenalin goes through the roof, these old-fashioned adventures are not all worked out in advance for you. You're not joining the crowd who are all queueing up for the same attraction. And the routes you'll take are not well trodden. At least not yet.
When I was a child I remember playing in the valley near where we used to live. There was no-one around and I was perfectly safe. I could explore hidden nooks and crannies and believe I was the first to find them. I was a pioneer. But if you go to the same place today, it's packed. Would my mum let me go by myself? No way. Too many dangers.
It's because we're talking about Uruguay that we're talking about pioneering. It's a small country tucked away between Argentina and Brazil. It's size and lack of superlative bests mean it's been overlooked in the quest for an adrenalin rush. And that's why it's perfect for an old-fashioned travel and adventure vacation. The population is small. 50% of it lives in or around the capital city, Montevideo. This means that the rest of the country holds about 1.5 million permanent residents.
There is space and tons of it in this beautiful green country and its connected, for the most part, by dirt roads that criss-cross the land. You won't find most of them on a map of Uruguay though. You'll see the place names. And you'll be able to find out information about the main towns. But the bits in-between? You'll have to join the dots yourself.
Well those dots are the first thing an old-fashioned adventure entails. You'll be exploring in the same way as I was with my nooks and crannies as a kid. As you work out how you'll get from A to B, the pioneer in you can believe you'll be the first to go this way. It's a feeling we don't get many chances to experience anymore in our Google mapped world. Uruguay is one place where you still can.
Old-fashioned travel and adventure in Uruguay has the added element of cowboys for an extra bit of magic. Out in the countryside they're a regular sight. And if you've ever looked at pictures of gauchos and thought the clothes and style are all done for the tourists, they're not. Gaucho life and culture is alive and kicking once you get out of the cities.
Start by packing your sense of humour along with an open mind. Because not everything is marked and mapped for you, the odds are on there are going to be times when you get lost. If you know in advance it's going to happen, if you plan for it to be part of the trip, it becomes something to laugh at and a good memory to share rather than a potential frustration flashpoint.
Other than that, just come prepared to go with the flow and see what you find while you're here.
At TryUruguay we've put together a specially tailored adventure trip planner to help you get started with your vacation plans. It walks you through the first essentials that will help you plan your Uruguay vacation. It's yours for free when you sign up to our weekly newsletter which is packed with information about special events, excellent eats, discounts or special deals, and lots more.
When you're done, take the time to check out the different areas of the site. They'll help you make sure you have all the information you need for your old-fashioned Uruguay adventure. Who knows, maybe you'll find your 'Magic Faraway Tree'...