A very well organised, luxury riding holiday that presents several areas of little-known Uruguay to you in the most comfortable way possible on horseback. This is a small agricultural country sandwiched between its much bigger neighbours, Brazil, and Argentina with which it shares language and most aspects of its culture. The riding pace is fast in many places, and the horses are some of the best trained quality mounts to be found in South America, being very forward going - really excellent animals that will satisfy the most demanding rider! The ride starts in the subtropical coastal province of Rocha, bordering Brazil.
We ride along the Atlantic coast, over sand dunes, through native butia palm groves and shady woodlands and on along the shores of some of the largest expanses of inland water to be found here. The variety of birds along this semi-tropical coast make it an ornithological paradise for the avid bird-watcher.
The old forts that we visit en-route are a reminder of the turbulent years between the discovery of this area by the first Europeans in 1516 and independence in 1828. Uruguay was only settled in the 18th century but since then fine estancias and, more recently, the beach resort at Punta del Este have been built. Each ride is adapted to cater for the requirements of the individual group, and custom itinerary requests can be accommodated as desired.
Day 2 Barra de Chuy beach
After breakfast we will be driven to Rocha, arguably the most beautiful province in Uruguay with its pristine beaches, emerald shores and network of lagoons. We will enjoy lunch at our beach side hotel, then get set to cross little La Coronilla town and ride towards the Brazilian border. Enjoying a fast-pace ride, we will ride along the wonderful, isolated beach of 'Barra del Chuy'. Visitors seldom reach this beach so we can enjoy a long, exhilarating canter with no signs of habitation as we ride across the pure white sands alongside the Atlantic Ocean. Sometimes we will go inland and we will surely see ibis, herons, egrets, storks and a legion of migrating birds (birds arrive here from as far as Alaska and the Falkland Islands). We then canter back along the water's edge to the hotel for barbecued fresh fish, Uruguayan wine and a pleasant overnight rest at the beachside hotel.
Day 3 Cerro Verde nature reserve and Santa Teresa National Park
During the morning we will ride to the Cerro Verde natural protected area. The grassy rocky headland that gives its name to the area is also the base for a sea turtle research and protection organization (called Carumbe). We pass a shipwreck buried in the sand - one of many along this treacherous coast. Indeed, Polonio, where we ride later, is named after a Spanish galleon that went down just off the point. Luckily the Beagle with Charles Darwin aboard did not succumb to this fate and Darwin spent quite some time in Uruguay collecting specimens, while most likely starting to formulate his theories of evolution. Most days there is a wonderful sighting of dolphins feeding in the bay. This beautiful ride with firm sand beaches, sand dunes and coastal forest will take us into the immense Santa Teresa National Park. The center-piece of the park is a fort started in 1762 by the Portuguese to defend the edge of their territories, then completed by the Spaniards who took it by assault just a year later. This was just the start of a succession of conquest, loss and reconquest of this fort; it was not until 1825 that the newly forming Uruguay finally captured and held it. From the fort there is a nice view of the famous Laguna Negra, named after its dark waters. The fort is surrounded by 3000 hectares of forest containing over 2 million trees most of which come from other parts of the world. After a picnic lunch we will enjoy riding along the forest trails, down to the beach and towards the charming Punta del Diablo fishing village, where we will stay at a small local inn to enjoy barbecued fresh fish, Uruguayan wine, and a pleasant overnight listening to the waves.
Day 4 Estancia Guardia del Monte, Ombu forest and palm groves
The fourth day of the trip starts with an early morning drive to the estancia Guardia del Monte, a working estancia located on the shore of the Laguna de Castillos lake. Here we meet the gauchos and their horses. Estancia Guardia del Monte has outstanding scenic beauty composed of several important ecosystems, like the exotic palm grove wetlands, home to a great variety of native birds. This particular area was declared a natural animal reserve in 1996. We also have the opportunity to ride past the unique Ombue forest, a curious indigenous tree that rarely grows in groups of more than two to three trees, hence the forest that we see is possibly the only one in existence. Each tree has its own wonderful shape with thick, twisting roots spread out over the ground; some are over 500 years old and have a diameter of two meters. After lunch we ride to the nearby palm groves, where some trees are estimated to be as old as 300 years. These palms are not native to the country, but no one seem to know how they came to be here.
Day 5 El Sauce, an authentic working estancia
We wake up on a farm - El Sauce is a working estancia run by its owners, where we will enjoy a full day of riding around the fields and varied vegetation of the property. The estancia, built in 1920, is very comfortable though it is not a hotel, but a big family house where we have been invited to stay as guests of the owners, offering us a very special insight into the life in the country. For example, guests can sample local mate tea sipped hot out of a dry gourd. The gauchos and their mate are inseparable and a whole ceremony has developed around drinking mate. In addition to the grasslands this estancia has a large area of marshlands and rice, both of which are teeming with bird life (more than 400 species) making another very varied ride and giving us the chance to see the graceful black-necked swan (the largest populations in the world are to be found here), the rare white goose and many ducks and other birds such as the largest bird in South America - the ostrich-like rhea. Otters, coypus and capybaras inhabit the marshlands and streams. At several points on the trip we will see the pink flamingo a species quite common in Uruguay. Overnight at the estancia.
Day 6 Cabo Polonio sand dunes & sea lions
The day starts with a short drive along a scenic road to the coast. Close to the beach we will meet our horses and ride into the desert! We ride through the area which has been declared a natural animal reserve and a Natural Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. We will ride to Cabo Polonio, a charming fishing village which can only be reached by horse or four wheel drive vehicle. The fascinating part of the area is the huge zone of shifting sand dunes, and as we ride through it is possible to imagine that we are right in the middle of the Sahara. After lunch at a typical restaurant on the beach we will see seals and sea lions that populate the small islands and make up one of the largest populations of seals in the world; very occasionally we might spot a migrating whale. Riders can then swim from one of the most beautiful beaches in the country. Later we drive to a lovely comfortable working estancia, El Charabon, to stay for the night.
Day 7 El Charabon; a lovely working estancia
The day starts with breakfast out on the veranda with homemade bread, jams and cakes, admiring the views out across the distant hills. Guests can take a close look at the rheas; the estancia has some of these native South American birds as pets. The little armadillos often pop up out of holes ruining Jorge's (the owner) beautifully manicured lawns. We will then enjoy a full day working alongside the gauchos and their trusty dogs as they tend to the estancias cattle and sheep on the 2900 acre ranch. The work varies depending on the time of year, but the gauchos always welcome a bit of help with checking and moving stock, or corralling animals. Sometimes a lame or sick animal has to be caught and attended to. The wonderful, friendly gauchos with their berets, bombachas, and with their knives tucked into their wide belts, all seem to have been born on a horse and it is a delight to be riding with them. Their dogs are very much working animals and it is amazing to see four dogs working in unison to move a herd of cattle. The dogs unfortunately cannot count and that can get tricky for us, especially with the sheep, as a recount will often be required! During the late afternoon, guests can relax around the pool, sunbathe or admire the sunset over the surrounding hills, then gaze in awe at the star-filled southern sky. Another delicious dinner with our delightful hosts completes a great day! Overnight at the estancia Charabon.
Day 8 Eucalyptus woodlands, open rolling grassland
The ride today takes us across the scenic estancia, traversing the eucalyptus forest, the rolling grasslands, and then across the huge fields of the neighbouring estancias, towards the coast. There will be a great chance of some long canters across the open grasslands. Enjoy the glorious blue skies and the serene tranquility of the Uruguayan countryside as we gallop across the pastures, often in the company of the local wildlife, such as the small armor-plated armadillo that makes a dash for the safety of it's burrow as the riders approach. After a final swim in the estancia pool, we will have a wonderful home-cooked lunch and then be driven to Montevideo city, to the airport for our return flight, or to start an extension. END.
Extension 2: Balcon del Abra & Quebrada de los Cuervos National Park
Need more riding? In between the hills of the Province of Lavalleja, only minutes away from the small town of Mariscala, and 160 km away from the capital city of Montevideo, El Balcon del Abara offers unique landscapes, great comfort and the charm of a small posada with only 4 rooms. Guests will discover wonderful trails on horseback and trekking up the hills, along the countryside and across streams including the fantastic Salamanca Grottoes day trip and visits to nearby estancias. After 2 nights here, we will continue our trip to the province of Treinta y Tres where we will stay at Pinos de la Quebrada, were we will participate in the traditional farmer's activities and visit the amazing Quebrada de los Cuervos National Park on a 4 hour ride. At the National Park, we will do the mini trekking tour down the gorge until we reach the lovely natural pools that form where the Olimar River joins the Yerbal Stream.
Price $1295 based on double shared occupancy, single supplement $180, supplement for pax travelling alone and in single room $725.
Includes:- Private transfer to Estancia Balcon del Abra - 02 nights Estancia Balcon del Abra with full board included - Ride across the hills to the nearby estancia with lunch included - Private transfer to Mariscala Town - Regular bus to Treinta y Tres - Private transfer to Estancia Pinos de la Quebrada - 02 nights Estancia Pinos de la Quebrada with full board included - Cross country ride to Quebrada de los cuervos National Park - Private transfer to Treinta y Tres City - Regular bus to Montevideo - English Riding Guide.
Extension 3 (Beach Extension): La Pedrera, a lovely small town on the emerald coast of Uruguay
La Pedrera is located on the South Atlantic coast, 230 km east of Montevideo. The geological rock formations on this part of the coast and the particular location of La Pedrera gave it the reputation of being the perfect balcony to watch the big ocean. Also known for its casual atmosphere, La Pedrera is that kind of place where time flows freely and "make up" is absent. You sleep when you need it, you eat when you are hungry and you dress comfortably all the time. Peace and quiet is legendary in La Pedrera; restaurants and pubs are open late allowing for enjoyable evenings with your partner or friends. Brisas de la Pedrera, the oldest hotel in town, restored as a boutqie hotel, is located in the oldest area of town, one block from the Rambla and meters away from the beach, also within walking distance of many of the town's restaurants and activities. Taking advantage of its strategic location; sitting on the highest spot in town captures a view of 30 kilometers of the Atlantic Ocean, all the way to world-known Cabo Polonio. The hotel combines memories of a humble colonial past with a new trend towards comfort and space; the rooms are ample, luminous, many with exceptional views, all appointed with elegance as well as comfort and privacy in mind. La Pedrera in Rocha is a paradisiacal spot in Uruguay!
Price (Sep-Nov & Apr) $312 based on double shared occupancy, single supplement $260, supplement for pax travelling alone and in single room $291.
Price (Nov16 - Dec24 & March) $380 based on double shared occupancy, single supplement $328, supplement for pax travelling alone and in single room $358.
Includes:-Private transfer Estancia Charabon/ Brisas de la Pedrera - 03 nights Brisas de La Pedrera with breakfast - Private transfer to bus terminal in La Paloma - Regular bus to Montevideo.
Extension 4 (Beach Extension): La Barra, Punta del Este
Formerly a small fishing village settled on the banks of the Maldonado stream, La Barra has grown to be a seaside resort with plenty of spirit and special characteristics which have turned it into the favorite spot for young people because of its teeming nightlife. La Barra starts just after the striking humpbacked, Reinforced Concrete Bridge, built by the Uruguayan engineer Leonel Viera in 1965, on the estuary formed by the stream as it runs into the ocean. During the last week of December and until the first fortnight in February, the discos work from two in the morning until sunrise. La Barra has its own shopping high street and a choice selection of restaurants where they serve a la carte specialties of typical national and international dishes. The restaurants are strategically located on the road or next to the most packed beaches which are Montoya, Bikini and Manantiales. Thanks to the original styling and careful manufacture, it is worth admiring the local craftwork, the best in the region and among the most outstanding in Uruguay. In the last few years, La Barra has also becomed very renown because of the quality of its artwork and handicrafts. The ateliers open to the public where the actual painters work, receiving visitors to witness the creative act live and allowing them to draw closer to the artist. Photography, currently so much in vogue thanks to large-scale exhibitions in galleries and important museums, is also present in photo art workshops. Galleries, craft stores and shops selling ornaments add up to a wide range of possibilities that make La Barra the perfect place to choose a painting, a photo, pottery work or something decorative. Most stores stand on route 10 in the "Paseo de la Barra" where the circuit sprang up spontaneously approximately ten years ago and works as an integrated, fun, offbeat trail. We have chosen the cozy Posada de los Pajaros in this area, a small 16 room Mediterranean - style hotel located in front of the beautiful Montoya beach.
Price $399 based on double shared occupancy, single supplement $275, supplement for pax travelling alone and in single room $380.
Includes:- Private transfer Estancia Charabon/ Posada de los Pajaros 03 nights Posada de los Pajaros with breakfast included Private transfer to bus terminal in Punta del Este Regular bus to Montevideo.
Extension 5 (Beach Extension): Jose Ignacio, the "Saint Tropez" of South America
Spend some relaxing days at Jose Ignacio, the last town on Maldonado's Atlantic coastline and the last to be discovered and treasured. It is a rocky headland that juts almost a kilometer into the sea forming natural bays on both sides with white sandy beaches and two landmarks: the 32 meter high lighthouse built in 1877 and a sunken boat. Jose Ignacio owes its name to one of the first settlers in the area during Spanish colonial times and is considered to be one of the best fishing spots either from the shore or from a boat. The area was famous in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries due to the maritime tragedies that took place on the rocky crags. It has two beaches and still maintains the cozy atmosphere of a former fishing village with cobblestone streets, low houses, and no towers rising to compete with the lighthouse. On the two lagoons of Garzon and Jose Ignacio that surround the peninsula, you are allowed to wind surf, row and sail but no motorized water sports are permitted in order to protect the wildlife that inhabits the zone. The elegant, black-necked swans and different species of herons with their varied, colourful feathers are the queens of these waters. Depending on the date and season, guests can stay at the glamorous Estancia Vik, where they will find exceptional design, flawless personalized service, environmentally minded practices and an unparalleled collection of contemporary Uruguayan and international art, or at some of the beach side properties such as Playa VIK, a strikingly contemporary property that incorporates natural elements, nd which can be instantly recognizable from a distance, thanks to its so-called "living roof" planted with Uruguayan wild flowers, setting a unique architectural tone created by Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott, who has also worked on the Paris Opera House.
Price $1505 based on double shared occupancy, single supplement $1285, supplement for pax travelling alone and in single room $1505.
Includes:- Private transfer Estancia Charabon/ Playa VIK Jose Ignacio 03 nights at Playa VIK with breakfast included, private transfer to Montevideo.
* A deposit will be required at the time of booking to hold your place. The deposit counts as part payment of the total due.
|Riding holiday||Uruguay||7 Days||Oct - Apr||Level B||4-12|
|8 riders||7 riders||6 riders||5 riders||4 riders||3 riders||2 riders|