After Paraguay, we decided to visit Uruguay. We were leaving from Encarnacion and heading straight for Paysandu 715 km away. What should have been a straight forward trip, turned out to be an incredible adventure of blisters, sunburn, aching muscles, and new friends. Hopefully, by sharing our experience we can ensure other travellers have much better luck than we did!
From outside the bus terminal in Encarnacion, Paraguay, jump on any bus marked ‘Internacional’. The cost is 7,000 Guarani per person and the buses run frequently.
At immigration, jump off the bus to receive your Paraguayan exit stamp. Make sure you leave nothing on the bus as it will not wait for you. Instead, wait a few minutes and using the same ticket, board the next bus.
Once you are across the bridge between the two countries, you will need to exit the bus again to pass through Argentinian immigration. You will need to show your passport and your receipt of payment for the reciprocity fee (see other post <<enter post details>>) to enter the country. Your luggage will be checked and then you can board yet another bus headed to the Posadas bus terminal using the same ticket.
The bus will stop outside the terminal and then it’s just a matter of choosing which company you’d like to travel with to reach Colon, Argentina. We chose Expreso Singer (ARG 606.20) leaving at 6:30pm. Food and refreshments were served on board however, if the bus hadn’t been empty and we didn’t have 2 seats each to spread out across, it would have been a very uncomfortable 11 hours!
The bus dropped us off quite literally in the middle of nowhere at 5:15am and 16 km from the town of Colon. We crossed the highway to a service station to use the bathroom and grab a coffee when the lady serving us said there would be no buses passing by today so, we’d have to either walk into town or take a taxi.
You see, we arrived on a Sunday. While this means nothing to anyone who’s never been to Latin America, we knew immediately we’d screwed up. Almost everything shuts down on a Sunday and today was going to be no different.
Budget non-permitting, we loaded back up and started walking towards Colon, coffee in hand. We walked around 5 km before we had any luck hitch hiking with a guy on his way home from work. He took us to the bus terminal in town but, when we arrived we discovered the only bus available to Uruguay would be leaving at 8:45pm that night. Had we arrived on any other day of the week, we would have been lost with choices! Monday to Saturday, buses run frequently between the two towns.
So, we loaded up again and started walking back out of town. This time, no one stopped or even slowed down for us. By the time we reached immigration on the other side of the river, we’d walked a total of 19 km! (Argentina & Uruguay share an immigration office in Uruguay. You will not be stamped out of Argentina but, don’t stress because when we re-entered 5 days later it didn’t matter anyway).
We were both covered in sweat, my arms were sunburnt (and I was wearing sunscreen), our bodies were aching, and both of us could feel blisters on our tired feet but, with no taxi’s available we resigned to continuing our pilgrimage on foot to Paysandu.
Then, out of nowhere a miracle! There was a local bus! Haha, just joking. As there hadn’t been any ATM’s or change offices available before we crossed the border, we didn’t have any Uruguayan Pesos…and this was one bus driver that just wouldn’t accept any other currency. Wanker.
It all worked out for the best though when shortly after this incident a lovely, elderly couple decided to take sympathy on us and gave us a lift to town but, not before Justin slammed his whole hand in the van door…
So, if you’re considering heading to Uruguay from Paraguay, the only advice we have for you is NOT TO TRAVEL ON A SUNDAY!!
Travel safe x
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