Our final destination in Uruguay was the city of Colonia del Sacramento (referred to by locals simply as “Colonia”).  We were offered a ride,1 so we packed our gear, hopped aboard El Capitán’s auto and took the scenic route up the coast.

Montevideo harbor. See that hill over yonder?… View from the top is in the next pic!
Overlooking Montevideo. Kale enjoying a belly breeze.
El Capitán’s Taxi and Tour Company ftw.
We made a quick stop in the small town of Neuva Helvecia. It’s Swiss heritage was aptly displayed by this church (est. 1863) and the meat and cheese sandwiches we enjoyed, courtesy of El Capitán!

Geography

Colonia sits upon a peninsula on the Rio de la Plata, 180 kilometers northwest of Montevideo.  It is the closest major port to the mouth of the Uruguay River (which separates Argentina and Uruguay/Brazil) and  on a clear day you can make out the Buenos Aires skyline from the Colonia shore.

Despite how this map looks, the Rio de la Plata is more of a greyish brownish color. Definitely not blue.

History

Founded in 1680 by Portugal, the colony was almost immediately disputed by the Spanish empire, who had settled on the opposite bank of the river at Buenos Aires.  Naturally, the Spaniards sailed across the Rio de la Plata and conquered the strategically valuable colony.  This was short-lived, however: the next year, the colony was handed back to Portugal under the terms of the Treaty of Lisbon (between Spain and Portugal).  And thus commenced a series of back and forths that lasted until Uruguayo independence in 1828.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonia_del_Sacramento

If you’re like me, you’re probably wondering, “who the heck is Liga Federal?”… Well, from 1811-1817, Colonia was under the jurisdiction of Liga Federal (english: the Federal League).  The Liga Federal was an alliance of provinces in what is now Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil that aimed to establish a confederal organization of South American democracies (similar to the then-recently formed United States of America).

The Liga Federal revolted against the Spanish crown in 1811, inspired and led by this dude, José Gervasio Artigas.

Artigas: the George Washington of Uruguay.

Due to regional fracturing (notably, between Artigas and the government of Buenos Aires) and subsequent civil war, the Liga Federal was short-lived.  In 1820, Portugal (presumably fearing that their Brazilian colonies would soon be infected by the idea of independence) defeated Artigas and conquered modern day Uruguay, putting an end to the Liga Federal.  Sad Panda.

A Vacation from the Vacation Tour

We were excited to spend Cat’s birthday2 in Colonia.  As an added bonus, as a birthday gift some amazing folks back home shouted us three nights at a hotel!  Now, as much as we love our tent and the great outdoors, we were super amped to stay at the very chic boutique hotel, El Posada Capullo.

The hotel3 is cozy, cute and located in Colonia’s Barrio Histórico (historic quarter).  Barrio Histórico is designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and retains the irregular, terrain-fitting street plan originally constructed by the Portuguese.  

The next three days were spent wandering the cobblestone streets, lounging under shady trees alongside the river and soaking up the charm of Colonia.

El Faro is definitely photo worthy. It was built in 1857 on the ruins of the Convent of San Francisco Javier (visible grey rocks at it’s base).
Portuguese influence resonates through Colonia’s Barrio Histórico.

Birds (obviously)

Oops, almost forgot to mention the birds.  Colonia is home to many of them.  Seriously, birds on birds on birds.  

White-throated hummingbird. Really, really close up.
White-throated hummingbird on rope.
White-throated hummingbird chowing down. Interestingly, they seemed to aim their tongues into the gap between the leaf and the flower (rather than into the center of the flower).
Blue and white swallow opens wide. I suspect it may be making a high frequency sound (inaudible to us, sitting about 10 feet away).
Blue and white swallow looking exceptionally dinosaury.
Blue and white swallow ready for landing!
Male house sparrow creeps on female house sparrow.
A couple of female house sparrows having a feed.
We made friends with this sassy female house sparrow.
Great kiskadee hanging out on a boat in Colonia harbor.
Great kiskadee struggles to find a footing on a plastic boat.
When you’re new in the neighborhood…

Chau, Uruguay 🙁

Tomorrow we say chau to Uruguay and head across the Rio de la Plata to Buenos Aires.  The ferry ride is approx. one hour and 15 minutes; tickets cost us ~ $35 USD per person.  We were also informed that bringing our fully loaded steeds aboard wouldn’t be a problem. Fingers crossed.

Ferry enters Colonia harbor from Buenos Aires.

Our time in Uruguay has been amazing.  The laid back atmosphere, beautiful landscapes, and stunning beaches are wonderful; yet, what really makes Uruguay so special is it’s people: smiling,4 helpful, and patient – we felt the love from day numero uno.

Chau Uruguay – te amamos.

4 thoughts on “Colonia del Sacramento”

  1. really great hummingbird pics man, glad you got some quality time off the beaten track, be careful of those fn motochorros in BA now fellas, … wotcha

Comment. Say hi. Talk shit. 👇