Riding in Uruguay
gallop accross rolling hills, through ancient forests and along pristine beaches
Uruguay offers some wonderful riding with the opportunity to gallop across undulating grassland, along unspoiled beaches, across marshlands teeming with birdlife and past ancient forts set on coastal hills.
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This is an outline of our favourite Uruguay ride, but if you don't have time a few days on an estancia will also be very satisfying.
Montevideo to Rocha
Days 1-2: Met in Montevideo. After an initial night and city tour you are driven north-east (4-5 hours) along a panoramic road through the province of 33 and into Rocha, with its pristine beaches, emerald shores and network of lagoons. There will be an afternoon ride around the rolling hills of San Miguel and overnight is spent near the Brazilian border.
Barra Chuy beach and Santa Teresa National Park
Days 3-4: Driven to the Brazilian town of Chuy, where the locals speak a strange language made up of a mix of Spanish and Portuguese! Then continue the short distance to meet the horses for an exhilarating gallop along a pure white sandy beach. The following day ride south, through coastal hills, sand dunes and woodlands and into the forested Santa Teresa National Park. Stay in small beachside hotels which the opportunity to see dolphins feeding in the bay.
Cabo Polonio, Laguna Negra and Don Bosco
Days 5-6: After a short drive meet the horses and ride through towering sand dunes to Cabo Polonio, a small fishing village. Sea lions or even southern right whales (October-November only) may be seen. After a night in a friendly posada ride away from the beach towards Laguna Negra, with many migratory and resident birds. Ride in the lake (bareback if you wish!) and through forests of fig, exotic palms and Ombu forests. Stay at a local estancia where a large marsh area is home to otters, black-necked swans, flamingos and capybaras.
Laguna Negra and Don Bosco
Days 5-6: After a short drive arrive at Laguna Negra, with many migratory and resident birds. Ride in the lake (bareback if you wish!) and through forests of fig and exotic palms. Stay at a local estancia where a large marsh area is home to otters, black-necked swans, flamingos and capybaras.
Castillos and Barra Grande
Days 7-8: Ride to the small town of Castillos and after a visit to a local gaucho store continue on to Barra Grande estancia. On your final morning there will be a ride around the estancia before being driven to Montevideo for onward connections.
Our riding outfitter in Uruguay is Sally Vergette. Following her success in setting up and organising unique rides in Ecuador, Sally chose Uruguay as the perfect complement for the months when the Andean weather is wetter. Her Uruguay rides take place in November, February and March.
“Sally is a wonderful hostess, she has such attention to detail and an eye for matching horse and rider. She and the gauchos work incredibly hard and nothing is too much trouble. I don't know how she ever finds time to sleep! I would certainly ride with her again.” - KS, March 2008
In the following section you will see our suggested options for possible accommodation.
Emerald Coast ride - $3,690
8 day escorted ride at a varied pace through incredibly diverse landscapes: pristine beaches, palm groves, pasturelands, rice fields, sand dunes, forests and forts. See a huge variety of birdlife, stay in an authentic estancia, explore shipwrecks and ride through a unique shrub forest.
- Estancia Guardia del Monte - a small working estancia on the shores of Laguna de Castillos, and near an ancient Ombu forest, with a wonderful open kitchen and family dining room.
- Fortin de San Miguel - a comfortable hotel with a relaxed atmosphere built in the same stone as the nearby Portuguese fortress, San Miguel, very close to the Brazil border with views over the Merin lagoon.
Estancia stay - $160-300 per day
The majority of estancias have very good horses and offer rides of varying lengths for both beginner and experienced riders.
- Estancia El Charabón - a family-run estancia with a warm, friendly atmosphere, beautifully kept gardens and lovely horses. Good opportunites to ride around the estancia or to the beach across undulating dunes.
- Estancia Guardia del Monte - a small family-run estancia on the shores of Laguna de Castillos with good riding through a forest of nearby ancient Ombú trees, and across marshlands with an abundance of birdlife.
- Estancia San Pedro de Timote - founded in the 18th century this colonial estancia has been converted into a country hotel with good riding across the 1,200 hectare grounds.