The long Atlantic coastline where you will ride with its clear, unpolluted water is a haven for marine animals such as dolphins, whales and seals as well as for fish and birds. Darwin himself was fascinated by the unique flora and fauna of this area and spent considerable time here when he came through on the Beagle. Long stretches of these pristine beaches are uninhabited.
You will also ride in the interior where large ranches raise delicious local beef and lamb. You will have a chance to share the life of the gauchos and help them work the cows. Asado with grilled pieces of beef or lamb cooked over an open fire is a local food specialty. There is also fresh sea food, vegetables, fruit and excellent local wines. You will have comfortable accommodations in estancias, which often have swimming pools. This horseback riding vacation in Uruguay will give you a fascinating introduction to a culture where horses still play a major role.
The first night will be spent at a hotel near Montevideo city center. The rooms are clean and comfortable.
Accommodations for this ride vary greatly, from quaint bedrooms with shared baths to comfortable private rooms with en-suite baths in beautifully restored historic estancias. The accommodations are extremely comfortable and the whole ambiance is picturesque. An attractive aspect for many is that these estancias are well off the beaten tourist path.
The fresh meat, seafood and vegetables are first class and the locals wines are a pleasure to drink. All meals are included with the exception of meals in the city of Montevideo prior to or following the ride and dinner on Day 1. Special dietary requests can be met with prior notice. We ask that you notify us of these at the time of booking. A glass of house wine is included with your dinner each evening.
The criollo horses are well trained, steady and are ready to move out at a good gallop on command. The horses have been bred and raised on local ranches. They are strong, fit, and well behaved animals. The style of riding is western and the horses respond to neck reining.
Traditional South American saddles and bridles are utilized. Their thick sheepskin covers make them comfortable for long hours of riding. Saddle strings are attached to carry raincoats, water bottles, cameras, and binoculars. English saddles are available with advance notice. The gauchos accompanying the ride handle all the tacking up and are extremely helpful.
Montevideo – Tour of the capital city & Port Market
Today is set aside to relax and explore the city of Montevideo, a tranquil capital on the banks of the wide Rio de la Plate estuary, with beaches and the wonderful shoreline called the “Rambla”. Guests are met at the airport (or port) and driven to the downtown hotel. Enjoy lunch at the lively Port Market and a short walking tour of the “Old City” of Montevideo. Accommodation at Don Boutique Hotel or similar. (Dinner not included, restaurant recommendations can be made depending on your tastes. The guide will also help with changing money and anything else you need to arrange)
18th Century Fortin de San Miguel
After breakfast, you will be driven to the Brazilian border and into Rocha, arguably the most beautiful province in Uruguay with pristine beaches, emerald shores and a great network of lagoons. Arrive at Estancia “La Rosada” located next to the
small town of La Coronilla. After lunch, enjoy a wonderful ride along the estancia in order to get to know our horses. After a typical “merienda”, continue onto Fortin de San Miguel, built in the same stone as the nearby Portuguese fortress. You can admire the views out across an enormous stretch of fresh water – one of the largest fresh water reserves of South America, the “Merín Lagoon” right on the Brazilian border. This area is home to a wide variety of birds and weyou will see many different native trees and bushes. Dinner and accommodation at “Fortín de San Miguel” Hotel.
Brazilian border– Along a pristine beach to the ocean
After breakfast, you will be driven to ‘Chuy’, a very curious town straddling the border where guests can step into Brazil and hear the locals speak a strange language made of a mix of Spanish and Portuguese. Continue on for a very short drive to join the horses to start the ride towards the coast!
After a picnic lunch, riders may have a pleasant “siesta” discovering that gauchos’ saddles are comfortable to sleep on! In the afternoon, you will enjoy a fast-pace ride along the wonderful, isolated ocean beach of ‘Barra Chuy’. Visitors seldom reach this beach so you can enjoy a long, exhilarating canters over firm sand on empty stretches of beach and splashing along the Atlantic coast. You will arrive 22km (14 miles) further south at “La Coronilla”, (ride 4hrs) and stay at small beachside hotel with 2 outdoor pools, 1 indoor pool, a Jacuzzi and a whole ocean to laze in.
Santa Teresa National Park - Dolphins and Shipwrecks
Today you will ride south, alternating beaches and pine forests and coastal hills where you might see dolphins feeding before arriving at the 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 conquering, losing and reconquering the fort; it was not until 1825 that the newly forming ‘Uruguay’ finally captured and held the fort. The fort is surrounded by 3000 hectares of forest containing over 2 million trees, most from other parts of the world. After a picnic lunch the group will enjoy riding along the forest trails and down to the beach and will pass a shipwreck buried in the sand, one of many along this treacherous coast; indeed, Cabo Polonio (where you’ll ride later) is named after a Spanish galleon that went down just off the point. Luckily ‘Beagle’ with Charles Darwin aboard did not succumb to this fate and Darwin spent quite some time in Uruguay collecting species. After a traditional picnic close to the fortress or on the beach, depending on the weather, continue along the coast towards the lovely beach village of Punta del Diablo. Ride 5-6 hrs. Dinner and accommodation at Posada Terrazas de la Viuda.
Cabo Polonio – sand dunes & sea lions
The day starts with a drive south further along the coast. Meet the horses and ride into the desert! We ride through the area, which has been declared a natural animal reserve and a Biosphere Natural Reserve by UNESCO, to Cabo Polonio, a charming fishing which can only be reached by horse or four wheeled drive. The fascinating part of the area is the huge area of shifting sand dunes, and as you ride through you can imagine you are riding through the Sahara. Lunch at La Perla seaside restaurant and visit to the light house, the seals and sea lions that populate the small islands and make up one of the largest populations of seals in the world; very occasionally you may spot a migrating whale. Riders can swim in one of the most beautiful beaches of the country. Then begin your ride towards the small town of Valizas where you will enjoy dinner and spend the overnight at Posada Valizas. Ride time 5.5 hrs.
Wetlands, Lagoon & Ombu Forest
After breakfast, ride along the beach of Valizas and to the hidden Brioso Lagoon to continue onto the wetlands of Rocha across an amazing untouched landscape of Palm groves. The bands of palm trees are quite unexpected and it is disconcerting to see sheep grazing beneath them. The Ombu is a fascinating ‘tree’ and seldom grows in groups as it does here. You will enjoy a picnic lunch on the way before reaching the Castillos Lagoon and the charming Estancia Guardia del Monte, a traditional working farm in an idyllic location close to the lagoon shores. 26km (17 mile) ride. Accommodation and dinner at Guardia del Monte.
The Incredible Wetlands of Castillos Lagoon
The day starts with a lovely breakfast of homemade bread, jams and cakes, admiring the views of the countryside and across the lagoon. Start riding towards the neighboring estancia, Barra Grande. Cross wetlands and a magic forest of Ceibos, Coronillas and native trees. Enjoy lunch a tyipical ¨Uruguayan asado¨ before riding back to Guardia del Monte. Dinner and accommodation.
Cattle and sheep work with the gauchos on the estancia
Morning ride through the estancia’s fields (3-4 hours). You will have the chance to work alongside the gaucho and his trusty dogs tending to the cattle and sheep on this working ranch. The work varies depending on the time of the year, often involving checking and moving the stock or putting animals in the corrals. Sometimes a lame animal has to be caught and tended to. The wonderful, friendly gauchos with their berets and their knives tucked into their colorful belts all seem to have been born on a horse and it is a delight to be riding with them. Enjoy lunch at Guardia del Monte before riding towards the small town of Castillos where you will visit a local “gaucho store”. Traditional bridles, typical riding “bombachas” (riding trousers), gaucho hats and colorful ponchos will be available to admire and buy! You will then say goodbye to the horses before heading back to Montevideo – to the airport, port, the city, or to start an extension tour.
Please note that transfers typically arrive back in Montevideo at about 5pm, so please book departing flights for 7pm and after.
This itinerary if flexible and may be modified at the guide's discretion due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances.
Trip Dates & Pricing
Other dates between October- December and late February-April may be available for private groups.
Additional Pricing Information:
50% deposit of trip price required for this ride. Ride price is set, guaranteed, and final at the time the deposit is paid.
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The Uruguay trip is a real winner! We were totally embraced by the hospitality of our hosts and their eagerness to make our riding holiday the best it could be. We can’t wait to go back. The people, the country and the landscape are totally unspoiled. The mild climate and beautiful green... Read more