The Northern Interior of Uruguay is a land of ranchers, cattle, and horses. Between the streams, hills, and hot springs of the sparsely populated departments of Artigas, Paysandú, Rivera, Salto, and Tacuarembó, life can feel a world away from Montevideo.
- 1 Artigas
- 2 Bella Unión
- 3 Minas de Corrales – see the remains of 19th-century mines
- 4 Paso de los Toros
- 5 Paysandú
- 6 Rivera
- 7 Salto - citrus growing town just across the Rio Uruguay from Concordia in Argentina.
- 8 Tacuarembó - an important centre of gaucho culture
- 1 Valle del Lunarejo (Rivera) - a national park
- 2 Montes del Queguay (Paysandu) - a reserve in process of becoming a national park
- Palmeras (Paysandu) - Paysandu in particular is abundant with local palms (Yatay Palm). On the Argentinian side of the border they are protected in the national park El Palmar.
- 3 Guichon (Paysandu) - Where the last Charruas were subdued in the 19th century. Now a popular bath resort. There is a monument commemorating the Charrua victims at Salsipuedes. The remains of the Tapera de Melchora Cuenca, Artigas' (the Uruguayan commander) indigenous wife.
This is gaucho (South American cowboy) territory. Don't be surprised to see men in distinctive, old-fashioned clothes riding horses down city streets or beside the highway. Outside of the downtown areas of major cities, you'll see cows and horses grazing almost anywhere you go.
Regular buses are available from other parts of Uruguay, and there is also a bus to Salto from Concordia, Argentina. You can also take a bus to Santana do Livramento or Quaraí in Brazil and then walk across the border.
Uruguay has a good internal highway system that connects this region to southern Uruguay. You can also drive across the border from Brazil to Rivera, Artigas, or Bella Unión; or from Argentina to Paysandú or Salto.
This region is relatively sparsely populated and bus service may be infrequent. Some cities are connected by frequent buses on their way to or from Montevideo—for instance, you should have no trouble getting from Salto to Paysandú or from Tacuarembó to Rivera. But in other cases you might have to transfer or wait for a bus that only runs a couple times a week.
- Bathe in hot springs in Paysandú and Salto.
- Visit Quebrada de los Cuervos, a natural reserve in the Treinta y Tres Department. Especially interesting for birdwatching.
Cities on the Brazilian border have duty-free shops catering to visitors from across the border. The biggest selection seems to be in Rivera, and across the border in Santana do Livramento there are a bunch of cheap Brazilian shops too.
- Central Interior – something of a transitional area, still largely agricultural but not so far from Montevideo and the coast
- Mesopotamia, Argentina – home to the ruins of Jesuit missions and the famous Iguazú Falls
- Rio de la Plata – starting with the historic port town of Fray Bentos (not far from Paysandú)
- Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil – more gaucho culture, mixed with a variety of other influences