My nine year-old and fourteen year-old daughters and I rode what I
think was a hovercraft from Carmelo, Uruguay, to El Tigre, a suburb of
Buenos Aires, back in February of 1999. A local had purchased the
tickets for us, so I don't know how much it cost. I can't honestly say
there is that much to see in Montevideo that is much different from B.A.
There was a nice regional museum, a fortress, and old European style
buildings. The locals enjoy the beaches, so there are resorts strung
along the Uruguayan coast.
When we were in B.A. we took a side trip to a small ranch town
called San Antonio de Areco 113 km west of B.A. and visited a gaucho
ranch named Estancia La Cinacina. They had a guided horseback ride
through marshy fields with fabulous bird-watching. There were small owls
on the ground and lots of hawks and other birds. Then there was a
scrumptuous meal of steak and other items, followed by a music and dance
presentation. Finally, guests enjoyed gaucho horsemanship demonstrations
outside. It was a family-run place, unpretentious, but superb. I
probably enjoyed that the most of my entire trip. Reservations were
required at that time. According to my old 1996 Lonely Planet
guidebook, the representative in B.A. is Empresa Que La Opera (telephone
342-1986, 342-2841), Mitre 734, 10°. At that time you could get a tour
from the capital for US$60, which was nearly the same as it cost us to
take a bus out and buy our Estancia ticket on our own, plus our bus
dropped us off at a rural truck stop, and we had to figure out how to
find the ranch on our own. My daughters and I were the only tourists who
didn't come with a tour group; in fact, the owners seemed a little
surprised to see us approach on foot. It seems that there were tour
buses from the Sheraton near the huge train station in B.A., so you
could inquire there if all else fails.
My guidebook listed a street in that town as the best place in the
country for typical gaucho souvenirs. We thought we were in the correct
area indicated on the map, but never did find any shops with souvenirs,
only residential areas. There was also a gaucho museum listed, but it
did not open until 11, instead of the 10:00 listed in the guidebook, so
we were unable to see it.
Hope this helps you find something interesting to do.