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Uruguay Beach & Coastal Trail Riding Holiday Montevideo, Uruguay
Equitrekking Travel's Uruguay Beach & Coastal Trail Vacation is specially designed to let you experience an array of landscapes and culture across Uruguay.
Uruguay is a country the size of England and Wales with a charming, warm population of only 3 million people. Uruguay is bordered by Brazil, Argentina and a long Atlantic coastline of beautiful beaches. The country has a non-tropical climate, unexpectedly diverse landscapes and gaucho culture. It's a little-known destination made for riding and enjoying nature.
Mount strong Criollo or Criollo cross horses, a breed native to South America, and ride beaches and coastal trails. This is a progressive equestrian vacation. The length of each day's ride varies slightly between each group and day of the itinerary. Transfers from the airport are included in the price so there is no need to rent a car unless you decide to extend your trip before or after the beach and coastal trail vacation.
Stay at charming seaside inns and working ranches, called estancias. Get connected with the traditions of this unexplored, genuine country, where South America's cowboy traditions still rein supreme. On this ride you'll travel through diverse landscapes, try surprising wines, good food and experience the hidden treasures found on paths less travelled in Uruguay.
Escape North America's winters for long, warm days in Uruguay and in the saddle. Ride rolling hills, staying at a small working farm in outstanding countryside, where you may help the gauchos with cattle work and then ride to an estancia in an idyllic location on the edge of a lagoon. You'll explore the lagoon, marvelling at the wildlife and traversing an area of sand dunes to an isolated fishing village. Riders enjoy long gallops on pristine beaches and also riding through forests to a old Spanish fort.
Excellent horses, comfortable lodgings, delicious food and incredible hospitality - including the ever helpful gauchos - all add together to make this an unforgettable experience.
Bring along light weight layered clothes and riding gear. Uruguay has a warm, non-tropical climate, which is very pleasant riding. Saddlebags are provided.
Please see Equitrekking Travel’s General Packing List.
About the Horses
There will normally be three changes of horses during the ride. As always one or more spare horses will accompany us. The horses are the local Uruguayan Criollo breed and criollo cross: ideally suited to the terrain. Criollo is the horse breed in Uruguay, Argentina and the south of Brazil. The breed was developed from horses that were brought from Spain in the 17th century and then breaded in this region. Criollo is a strong horse with an excellent walk and good character. We use local, ‘western’ type saddle with a sheep skin. Neck reining (western ‘one-hand riding). Help will be given in adjusting to this tack which is very suitable for long days in the saddle.
This equestrian vacation lets you experience riding wetlands, virgin beaches, hills, and more. Each day is diverse. You may ride on the beach and then hours later feel as if your are in the middle of the desert surrounded by sand dunes that leads you to a sea lion reserve just next to the wild coast. Local guides will treat you as friends so that you will enjoy getting to know Uruguay. The variety of birds that you will see in these habitats is incredible from hummingbirds to flamingos, kingfishers, flycatchers, and rheas (similar to ostriches). You'll skirt diverse landscapes and try local wines and cuisine along the journey.
Ask us about options for non-riders. There are many!
The accommodations provided in this program include charming seaside hotels and ranches available in the areas we visit. They are clean, comfortable and provide a good service. You will be able to get good night’s sleep in pleasant surroundings. If you are sharing your room, please let us know in advance if you prefer twin or double beds.
After a full day riding, it is comforting to know that you can return to fully prepared meals that reflect the local cuisine. All meals are prepared with completely natural and fresh products of the region. Red meat, fish and wine are specially recommended, but we can easily cater for vegetarians with advanced notice.
The Ideal Traveler
Intermediate to advanced riders who want to experience South America on horseback and ride on the beach. Couples, families and many solo travelers enjoy this vacation. Singles particularly enjoy the experience as it is a great opportunity to make new friends and share life stories.
8 day Uruguay Beach Horse Riding
Ride through stunning coastal scenery in Uruguay, a lesser visited gem in South America with welcoming people and beautiful beaches. The Uruguay riding holiday takes place in Rocha and crosses the Banados del Este Biosphere reserve, a UNESCO site. Explore diverse wetlands, sandy and rocky beaches, hills, native forest, palm groves, rivers, coastal lagoons and savannahs. There are more than 400 species of birds in this area, so you'll likely see a variety on your riding vacation. Spend nights in hotels, lodges and ranches and meet the locals on your riding vacation in Uruguay.
Dates & Rates
Beach and Costal Trail ride - 8 days (7 days riding) / 7 nights
2013: Feb 23-March 2, March 9-16, April 6-13, Oct 26-Nov 2, Nov 9-16, Nov 23-30
$3,050 USD double occupancy*
Single Supplement $420 USD*. This will be refunded if we find you a sharer. There are limited single rooms available.
Small group supplement for the ride to confirm for 2 or 3 riders: $600 USD* per person
Ask about other available dates for private groups.
Accommodation; full board (except on day 1); riding; return transfers from Montevideo airport; city tour. Transfers from Montevideo.
International flights to Montevideo.
* Prices shown are subject to daily exchange rate fluctuations. Prices are indicative only; the price of your chosen holiday will be reconfirmed by your travel consultant, prior to your making a booking.
Non Riding Options: Sight-seeing; hiking; fishing; surfing; biking; trekking; canoeing; bird watching
There will normally be three changes of horses during the ride. As always one or more spare horses will accompany your group. The horses are the local Uruguayan Criollo breed and Criollo cross and ideally suited to the terrain. A western type saddle with a sheep skin cover is used and neck reining (western one-hand riding) is practiced. Help will be given in adjusting to this tack which is very suitable for long days in the saddle.
Uruguay Riding Holiday Trip Highlights
We start our tour in the wonderful city of Montevideo. The next day we continue our ride in the amazing coastal province of 'Rocha' - protected area and declared world biosphere reserve. We horseback ride on the beach along isolated beaches, over shifting sand dunes, through palm groves and shady woodlands and on along the shores of the wetlands. The variety of birds - hummingbirds, flamingos, kingfishers, flycatchers, rheas (similar to ostriches) - that we see in these habitats is incredible. The pace will be many times quite fast (lots of canters) - the grassy pastures and firm beaches allow this on strong and well- trained criollo and criollo cross horses. While staying at charming seaside inns and working ranches – estancias – where ride with and help the gauchos with cattle drives, you will be able to feel connected with the traditions of this unexplored country. On this ride you'll skirt the most diverse landscapes, surprising wines, excellent food and experience the hidden treasures found on the paths less travelled.
Uruguay Riding Vacation Day by Day Itinerary
Day 1: Montevideo – Tour of the capital city & Port Market
Today is set aside to relax and explore the coastal city of Montevideo. Guests are met at the Carrasco International Airport and driven along the wonderful coastline called “Rambla” to the downtown hotel.
After Check in, your guide will help you discover the charming and quiet city of Montevideo, its museums, street markets, nice restaurants and friendly people. We will enjoy lunch at the lively Port Market before returning to the hotel located in downtown Montevideo. Lunch Included.
Day 2: 18th century Fortín de San Miguel
After breakfast you are 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. We will visit ‘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.
After lunch at your hotel, it is time to meet the horses and learn about the ride ahead. Then set off on your first ride around the rolling hills of San Miguel with panoramic views of the area from the top of the boulder covered Cerro Picudo. The view across the flat lowlands and the huge lagoon provides a very different landscape to the following days’ rides. On a clear day you can see the coast. This area is home to a wide variety of birds and you will see many native trees and bushes. You should also have the chance to see the Cimarron cattle – the first cattle introduced to the area from Spain in the 17th century.
Dinner and overnight at the hotel Fortin de San Miguel with pleasant gardens, a swimming pool and relaxed atmosphere.
Day 3 – Barra de Chuy beach – Brazilian border
After breakfast you are driven to your horse (5 mins drive) before mounting for a 3-4 hour ride towards the coast. After a special picnic lunch and a siesta, the ride pciks up pace as you ride along the wonderful, isolated beach of Barra Chuy. Visitors seldom reach this beach so you should be able to experience long, exhilarating canters with no signs of habitation. Eventually you will arrive 22kms further south at La Coronilla where you overnight in a small beachside hotel.
Day 4- Santa Teresa national park
Today you ride south, alternating beaches, sand dunes, pine forests and coastal hills where you may see dolphins feeding in the waters below. Continue your ride to the sizeable Santa Teresa National Park. The centre-piece of the park is a fort, built in 1762 by the Portuguese to defend the edge of their territories. The fort was completed by the Spaniards who took it by assault a year later. There followed a succession of the fort being conquered and then lost, before the newly forming Uruguay finally captured and held the fort in 1825. The fort is surrounded by 3,000 hectares of forest containing over 2 million trees.
After a picnic lunch, ride along the forest trails and down to the beach, passing a shipwreck buried in the sand – one of many along this treacherous stretch of coastline. Later in the week you will visit Cabo Polonio, an area named after a Spanish galleon that went down nearby. Luckily the Beagle, with Charles Darwin on board had more luck. Darwin was able to spend a good period of time in Uruguay collecting species and most likely starting to formulate his theories of evolution.
Continue along the coast towards the lovely town of Punta del Diablo where you leave your horses and journey by road to Estanca El Sauce where you have dinner and overnight
Day 5 – Experience an Authentic Estancia, ‘Mate’ Tea and the Gaucho Life
El Sauce is a working estancia where you spend a full day riding around the crops and very varied vegetation on the property. The estancia, built in 1920, is very comfortable – it is not a hotel but the family house where you have been invited to stay as guests of the owners. This offers an incredible experience and a very special insight into the way of life in the country.
Guests can sample the ‘mate’ sipped hot out of a dry gourd. The gauchos and their mate are inseparable and a ceremony has developed around drinking mate. In addition to the cattle grasslands, this estancia has a large area of marshlands and also rice crops both of which are teeming with bird life (more than 400 species in this area).
You may see the graceful black-necked swan (largest populations in the world found here), the rare white goose and many ducks and other birds such as the largest bird in South America - the ‘ostrich-like’ “ñandú” (rhea). Otters, coypus and capybaras inhabit the marshlands and streams. Also quite common in Uruguay are the pink flamingo – a species of flamingo with very bright pink pigment.
Dinner and overnight at Estancia El Sauce.
Day 6 – Cabo Polonio – shifting sands & sea lions
The day starts with a drive to the coast where you will meet your horses and ride into the desert. Journey on horseback through a natural animal reserve and an area designated as a Biosphere Natural Reserve by UNESCO.
Ride towards Cabo Polonio, a charming fishing village which can only be reached by horse or four wheel drive. The fascinating part of the area is the huge area of shifting sand dunes, as you ride through it, it is possible to imagine that you are right in the middle of the Sahara.
After lunch at a typical restaurant on the beach, keep a look out for the seals and sea lions that populate the small islands and make up one of the largest populations of seals in the world. If you are extremely lucky, you may catch a fleeting glimpse of a migrating Right Whale. Take the opportunity for a swim at one of the most beautiful beaches in the country.
After this ride full of diverse scenery, overnight at a lovely and charming working estancia, possibly El Charabon.
Day 7 – Ombues and palm trees
Start your day with breakfast out on the veranda. Today an area of outstanding beauty with important ecosystems and a great variety of birds and native scrubland awaits you; this area has been declared a Natural Animal Reserve since 1996. You will have the opportunity to visit the forest of Ombues – the Ombu curiously rarely grows in groups of more than 2 or 3 and the forest of Ombues you visit is possibly the only one in the world. Each tree has its own wonderful shape with thick, twisting roots spreading out over the ground – some are over 500 years old and have a diameter of 2 metres.
After lunch, ride to the nearby unique palm groves – despite a number of stories, no-one knows how the 300 year old palm trees got here! They are not native but they give the landscape a very exotic look. During your transfer back to the estancia, you pass many roadside stalls selling fruit and the less innocent ‘hooch’ brewed from the palm nuts. The cloudy, sticky liquid is so potent that if you leave the cap off the old bottles, the liquor evaporates in a flash!
Day 8 – Cattle and ship work with the gauchos
You will experience a full morning working alongside the gauchos and their trusty dogs as they tend to the cattle and sheep on this working ranch. The work varies according to the time of year, but may include checking on the animals, moving the stock or putting them into corrals. Sometimes a lame animals needs to be caught and tended to.
The wonderful, friendly gauchos with their berets, ‘bombachas’ (riding trousers) and knifes tucked into their belts seem to have been born on a horse and it is a very special experience to be riding with them. Their dogs are very much work animals and it is an amazing sight to see four dogs working in unison moving a herd of cattle. A game of armadillo jumping often inadvertently gets underway as the little armor-plated animals make a dash for their holes as the horses approach.
After a quick lunch, say goodbye to the horses and head back to Montevideo for your flight or onward travel.
* This itinerary is a sample itinerary. Itineraries are subject to changes due to the weather, the trip guide's discretion and other factors.
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Liz and I had the most wonderful time on your ride. We have taken over a dozen different week-long rides in all corners of the world and we thought yours was by far the best. The horses are fabulous - responsive, well-trained, bomb-proof. We could all gallop in a random fashion with never a kick, bite, or laid-back ear. The gauchos seemed to know exactly what help you needed, even though they spoke no English. But the guide, Juan Pablo, was the main reason this was our best ride ever. He was serious about safety but his top priority was that we all had fun. He kept emphasizing that it was our vacation and we should do what we want. This was not easy with nine different women with nine different agendas, but he made it happen.
- - Jane
My horse was responsive, fast and as you probably guessed, I had enormous fun riding her. The scenery, whilst not dramatic, was tranquil and gave a great sense of space with the coastal sections being particularly enjoyable. The accommodations were comfortable and special mention must be made of our numerous hosts for their kindness and warm hospitality. I would also like to pass on my sincere thanks to Alejandro and Paola and his team for their hard work. The organization as a whole was impressive and, if you were all paddling away like fury beneath the water, everything seemed pretty serene on the surface to me!
- - Simon
Thank-you for a fabulous holiday. Uruguay is a gentle country with vast, open skies and beaches, humorous people and lively, eager horses. Each day was varied, enormously fun, the estancias were all idyllic and their owners charming and welcoming.
- - Kirstin
Once more a big thank you for the excellent tour. Pictures look excellent. We hope to see you all in October in Belgium for the after-party.
We loved our holiday and all of us said that it was the best with the most amount of laughs! We certainly will recommend Uruguay to friends and would love to come back. Thanks again for looking after us so well. We had such a great time.
- - Claire
We had a wonderful ride, and enjoyed your country and the people we met VERY much! We enjoyed Macarena, and all her insights into that area of Uruguay where she was from, and Nacho is a real natural at this kind of work. The picnics were lovely and well planned, the horses were fine, and the gauchos did their jobs well. We also enjoyed all the different places that we stayed. The group was friendly and fun, and as riders, everyone was strong and capable, which always helps.
- - Elise
Country of Uruguay: awesome, beautiful, calming and uncomplicated - suited me very well and I hope to return one day.
Gauchos: experienced, professional, good at horsemanship and navigating the terrain - enjoyed them very much and felt that they took excellent care of the group and the horses. Guides: Nacho and Macarena along with our bus driver were wonderful knowledgeable (about the country, history, sites, etc.), fun, good riders and great company. I would send anyone to you and know they would be in good hands.
Estancias: very charming, comfortable and welcoming - I liked going from place to place and each one was special in its own way.
Food: very good, fresh, local choices all very much enjoyed. Loved the wines. Horse: very good. Even though I got unseated and took an early spill, I felt very comfortable with the horses. I found them to be well trained, very willing, very responsive and possessing even/good temperaments. I really thought you and the gauchos did a nice job of matching horses and riders.
Rides: very nice, varied and fun - my only suggestion here would be to describe the ride as intermediate + with a moderate pace (mix of fast and slow with some less intense days to give horses and riders a break). I know the slower days were not as well received as the faster days or as the days which provided for a mix of fast and slow gaits.
- - Susan
It was a super, super trip which I thouroughly enjoyed. The organisation was perfect all the way through. Special thanks to you, Macca and the guide from Montevideo (he was very, very committed, but I cannot remember his name, sorry..). And a big thanks to our enthousiastic and very kind busdriver and to the gauchos who accompanied us most of the way. They were so well organised, it was astonishing!
- - Sybilla
Thank you again to Nacho and Alexandro for introducing us to your wonderful country. I know we will return.
- - Penny
Thank you, thank you to all for making my vacation so brilliant!! I would love to see your photos! Look forward to hearing from you all, and best wishes to those lucky enough to still be enjoying the South American hospitality & weather.
- - Nan
Just a quick email to thank you very much for a great visit to Uruguay. It was a pleasure to meet you and we very much enjoyed our holiday. The horses were always excellent as was the accommodation, and Jan and yourself were good company.
- - Terence
You know you’ve found a hidden gem when there aren’t even guidebooks available for the country when you travel there! Uruguay is a small, charming country with a still vibrant gaucho culture, great food and welcoming people. I felt like I was getting a genuine estancia experience in Uruguay and am excited to go back and ride again.
-- From Equitrekking Travel founder and Emmy winning host Darley Newman.
Uruguay (Lonely Planet CUSTOM Guide) (Paperback) by Gregor Clark
The first ever Lonely Planet guidebook was stapled together at a kitchen table. We're keeping that spirit alive with CUSTOM guides - sections of our most popular books combined to fit your trip. Uruguay is delightfully low-key and surprisingly diverse, but you won’t find a guidebook for it - until now. This custom guide, made up of chapters selected from Lonely Planet's Argentina guidebook, covers Uruguay, including cosmopolitan Montevideo and the wilder outer reaches. We've also included buzzing Buenos Aires because, let's face it, you're in the area already – why not take in the Buenos Aires blend of old-world languor and contemporary attitude? Sound like your kind of thing? Then this is the CUSTOM guide for you.
This book includes: Maps and detailed information to help you explore every corner of Uruguay. Chunky coverage of Buenos Aires: where to stay, where to eat, what to see. A language chapter that covers all the essential travel phrases in Argentine Spanish. Health information including recommended vaccines.
Equitrekking Coffee Table Companion Book & DVD
Equitrekking Travel Adventures on Horseback by Darley Newman with Photographs by Chip Ward available at Amazon.com
This companion to the PBS TV series, Equitrekking, proves that the world's most beautiful views are often best seen from atop a horse. This gorgeous book features dozens of scenic rides in the U.S. and around the globe. Denver Post review: For horse folk and dreamers, as well as fans of the show, it's a beautiful trip through stunning equestrian-friendly possibilities.
Equitrekking DVD's featuring Emmy winning PBS episodes, available in the Shop section of Equitrekking.com
Get off the beaten path to see some of the world's most beautiful horses and classic riding destinations with host and equestrian travel expert Darley Newman with Emmy Award-winning Equitrekking, the horseback riding travel series on PBS.
Season One: Vermont, the Carolinas, Georgia Coast, Wyoming, Colorado and Spain.
Season Two: Iceland, Coastal Ireland, Hawaii's Big Island, Irish Countryside, Maui, Virginia Hunt Country and California Wine Country.
Season Three: Arizona, Belize, Costa Rica, Kentucky, Quebec, Texas and Utah.
Season Three: Arizona, Belize, Costa Rica, Kentucky, Quebec, Texas and Utah.
Season Four: Southern Spain, Alaska, Central Turkey, Quebec City and Beyond, Scotland and Wales.
Good Books for Horse Lovers and Equestrians
Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior (Paperback) by Temple Grandin
Philosophers and scientists have long wondered what goes on in the minds of animals, and this fascinating study gives a wealth of illuminating insights into that mystery. ---Publishers Weekly
The Horse: A Miscellany of Equine Knowledge (Hardcover) by Julie Whitaker with Ian Whitelaw
The Horse is an informative gallop through everything to do with the horse: evolution, history, biology, breeds, behavior, training, competition, health, and care—all gathered into an accessible gallery of solid information, essential facts, and fascinating trivia.
Hunter Seat Equitation (Hardcover) by George H. Morris
A classic by a world-renowned teacher and master equestrian--the definitive work on the art of teaching and riding the hunter seat, now updated to include refinements in Morris's insightful program of riding instruction.
The New Encyclopedia of the Horse (Hardcover) by Elwyn Hartley Edwards
Chronicling the history of the horse, this guide encompasses the early domestication of the horse, classical riding styles, as well as a survey of the great stud farms and current international sporting events.
Usual max is 12
Intermediate to Advanced
Dates & Rates
8 days Uruguay Beach Horse Riding
*If you are over the weight limit, please contact us for additional information.
Time in the Saddle
3 to 6 hours per day
Montevideo Carrasco International Airport, Uruguay
When You Can Go
Oct to April