It's been a while since I've been but I went on a tour arranged by a vendor that sent me on Barquebus and then a guided tour of Colonia and a couple farms in the area. STAY AWAY FROM THIS TOUR. It was almost laughable. The first stop was at a farm where they were proudly displaying their PENCIL and LIGHTER collections. Seriously, we spent like 30 minutes looking at someone's pencil collection. It was surreal. The second was a jam farm where they canned dozens of kinds of jams, except it was just a place to stop and buy some stuff. There was no tour of the facility, just "buy some onion flavored jam".
Our tour included "lunch" at a mediocre tourist oriented restaurant with completely forgettable food.
Fun Alternatives: I'm going again in a few months and I've booked directly with the ferry, SeaCat and paid $40 per person for the fast ferry across the river. ALSO, Colonia is very small, it is easily walkable and absolutely no need for a tour. If you feel you want to venture a little further out, rent a bik (very cheap) or get a cab to take you around.
Barquebus offers many daytrip and overnight packages. They are of course designed to make travel easier for people but they are quite lame. They will give you a day tour and a meal at an overcrowed resturant. Colonia is a great place and should be explored by yourself and not on a strict time limit. And avoid the overcrowed buffett places for goodness sake.
unfortunately, the entire town is a trap--i was thinking it was going to be something along the line of san miguel de allende in mexico or santa fe in new mexico, and it was pretty much a very little town with a few quaint buildings. even the souvenier shops, as my husband pointed out, looked kinda thrown together, had MEXICAN souveniers, and their t-shirts looked dusty.
Unique Suggestions: drink some uruguayian (sp) wine!
Fun Alternatives: if you are dead set on going to uruguay (like if you are in BA and since you are down there you might as well go to another country), maybe go for montevideo--it seems like it was 3 hours away, if you have the time to spare.
In late Sept 2007 on a Buquebus day tour origninating in Buenos Aires, I traveled by boat (1hr) to Colonia. The tour first included a stop at Arenas Granja Colonia (Ruta No1 Km. 167 Riachuelo Colonia. www.granjacolonia.com), a roadside stop with a restaurant/"museum"(?) and outside picnic area. To the side there was what looked liked an orchard and a small field in which 4 of us were given the opportunity to help ourselves to ride a couple horses. The first horse was fine ("Gato"), though the second, a shorter black/gray horse named "Morro" struck me as easily agitated, not too people friendly when approached. I do not claim to be very experienced around horses, though have ridden several times in my life without incident. I ended up not seeing historic Colonia as I spent the rest of the day & evening in Hospital Colonia with a concussion, dislocated shoulder and broken arm after Morro bolted under a low tree branch, sending me to the ground. Further, the stable assistant, though friendly and well meaning, was lax in seeing that saddle/gear was fitted to each rider, as I was riding w/ stirrups set for the previous rider, a foot shorter than me, adding to my imbalance. Overall a beautiful place with very nice people, though please be careful if you meet Morro (and esp. if you're not an experienced rider). Im sure horses can suffer job burn-out as much as people. Silver lining: Entire hospital bill including morphine, ambulance, xrays and arm reset cost less than a steak dinner.
You are literally trapped on a ferry for 3 hours. We payed for the slow ferry and a tour of Colonia it took up the whole day and it would have been better to get there fast and enjoy the town. We could have rented a golf cart to drive around, or bicycles, or kayaks for the river. There is a great beach here also. Instead we went on the tour which took us straight to lunch, a bus ride around town and a walking tour with a women who's english we could not understand. When the tour ended we sat at a cafe and drank beer which was the highlight of the day. If we go again we will go on the fast boat and enjoy free time on our own.
This is a sad story of a fellow passanger who made the mistake of buying some perfume from Duty Free on the FAST FERRY from Colonia to Buenos Aires.
When he sudenly noticed that the perfume bottle that he purchase (US$40). Was only half full and had be used.
He could not return it as they were closed. Later he went to the Ferry Office in Buenos Aires and they we so rude to him. Said that he had used the perfume..........
The Sales receipt says refund withing 60 days but the compnay that ownes the dury free is based in PANAMA (another country), how convenient.
Basically you have no recourse......
Unique Suggestions: In short do not buy anything from these duty free. They are over priced.
If you do make sure you open and check. Even though They sayd don't open the package.
Fun Alternatives: NEVER BUY. They do not allow exchange to refund.
Andrea and I noticed this internet place as we were getting ready to head back to the ferry port. We were only tempted for a second! If you need to check your email, don't worry, you'll be able to stay connected in Colonia.
Our first stop was the Granja Colonia in a rural area north of town. This was a tourist trap if I ever saw one. It was a museum of somebody's keychain and soft drink bottle collection, and a gift shop with marked up prices of course. If you don't believe there was collusion between this place and the tour company, you would buy oceanfront property in Tennessee! We got back aboard bus 45 and back towards town. I almost fell asleep from lack of sleep the previous night.
Unique Suggestions: Pretend like you're interested and hope this part of the tour ends soon.
If you come from Buenos Aires as we did, expect to pay everything a lot, argentinan peso is accepted everywhere in Clonia but the exchange rate is really bad.
Fun Alternatives: use credit card if you can.