Of the 1.8 million visitors to Uruguay in 2006, more than half were Argentine. But quietly, Uruguay is developing a second vacation spot that may help uncouple its tourism fortunes from Buenos Aires. It has found its best hope 3,000 feet underground, in the hot springs along the Uruguay River, a once-isolated region that even Uruguayans lump in with the rest of the “interior” — anywhere outside Punta del Este and the capital, Montevideo.
Since the discovery of the hot springs in the 1940s, by an oil exploration team wildcatting along the Argentine border, Uruguay has developed an impressively varied string of private resorts, public campgrounds, water parks and dude ranches. All tap the Guaraní Aquifer, the largest in the continent, funneling its toasty and mineral-rich water into indoor and outdoor baths.
…discovering in the hot springs an authentically Uruguayan experience
that comes without sacrificing the comforts of the coastal resorts.