Gauchos on a cattle estancia in South America

Gauchos, pampas and oceans

Join traditional gauchos on this trail ride through the nature reserves of Uruguay. You ride in the beautiful coastal province of the "Rocha", a protected area and world biosphere reserve. On this active riding holiday you spend your days exploring trails past emerald lagoons and onto deserted beaches for exhilarating canters. As an added bonus, you will enjoy a day working alongside gauchos at a traditional cattle estancia, adding a lovely cultural experience to this trail riding holiday.
Book now Print the details for this ride
Trail Riding
10 days / 7 riding
From £2,980
  • Trail ride through South America on horseback
    Enjoy riding alongside gauchos on the coast of Uruguay
  • Uruguayan gachos horseback riding across a beach
    Exploring the deserted beaches of a small fishing village
  • Horseback riding through wetlands in Uruguay
    Let your horse guide you through the deep waters of the wetlands
  • Rider in the mangrove in Uruguay
    Discover the Uruguayan mangrove
  • Horses swimming in a lagoon in Uruguay
    Transport the horses across the lagoon gaucho style!
  • Sea Lions spotted on a trail ride in Uruguay
    Enjoy the wildlife at a beachside restaurant in Cabo Polonio
  • Horseback ride along coastal trail in Uruguay
    Criollo horses enjoying a splash in the Atlantic Ocean
  • Beach ride on horseback in Uruguay
    Whale spotting on the deserted beaches of Uruguay

Itinerary

Highlights

- Experience Uruguayan gaucho culture and stay in traditional estancias
- Variety of landscapes, from the grazing pampas on the estancias, to swamplands, coastal forests, sand dunes and beaches
- More than 400 species of birds (flamingoes, herons, snow geese, black swans etc) plus the chance to see sealions and dolphins
- Exhilarating canters on pristine beaches

Private rides can be arranged for groups of two or more between late February and April and from October to mid December.
  • Day 1 1: EUROPE - MONTEVIDEO

    There are no direct flights from the UK to Montevideo. You can either fly via a European hub city such as Madrid, or fly to Buenos Aires and either fly or take a ferry across the estuary to Montevideo.
  • Day 2 2: MONTEVIDEO - No riding

    Don Boutique hotel
    You will be met on arrival at Carrasco International Airport and driven along the wonderful coastline called “Rambla” to your downtown hotel.
    After checking in, you explore the charming and quiet city of Montevideo - its museums, street markets, and friendly people- rythmed by the Rio de la Plata, Tango or Candombe music. You will enjoy your lunch at the lively Port Market by the harbour followed by a short walking tour of the "Old City" of Montevideo. Dinner to your own account.

    Overnight in the Don Boutique hotel or similar.
  • Day 3 3: MONTEVIDEO - LA CORONILLA - SAN MIGUEL - 3-4 hours riding

    Fortin de San Miguel hotel
    After breakfast you will be driven into Rocha, arguably the most beautiful province in Uruguay with pristine beaches, emerald shores and a great network of lagoons. On arriving at your hotel, 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 in South America, the "Merín Lagoon".

    After lunch you meet the gauchos and horses for an afternoon ride around the rolling hills of San Miguel, where there is a wonderful panoramic view 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. This area is home to a wide variety of birds and many different native trees and bushes.

    You overnight at the “Fortín de San Miguel" Hotel with its gardens, swimming pool and relaxed atmosphere.
  • Day 4 4: SAN MIGUEL - BARRA DE CHUY BEACH - 5-6 hours riding

    Parque Oceanico hotel
    After breakfast, you will be driven to the Brazilian border to visit ‘Chuy’, a very curious town straddling the border where you can step into Brazil and hear the locals speak a strange language consisting of a mix of Spanish and Portuguese. Hop on your horse for your 3-4h ride towards the coast. After a special picnic lunch, there is time for a pleasant “siesta” where you can try out your gaucho saddle as a pillow!

    In the afternoon, there's a fast-paced ride along the wonderful, isolated ocean beach of ‘Barra Chuy’. Visitors seldom reach this beach so you can experience a long, exhilarating canter with no signs of habitation as you ride across the pure white sands alongside the Atlantic Ocean. You arrive 22km (12 miles) further south at "La Coronilla" and stay at small beachside hotel.
  • Day 5 5: CHUY - SANTA TERESA NATIONAL PARK - PUNTA DEL DIABLO - 6 hours riding

    Terrazas de la Viuda hotel
    Today you ride south alternating beaches, sand dunes, pine forests and coastal hills from where you might be lucky enough to see dolphins feeding before arriving at the immense Santa Teresa National Park. The centre 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 3,000 hectares of forest containing over 2 million trees, most from other parts of the world.

    After a picnic lunch you ride along the forest trails and down to the beach where you'll pass a shipwreck buried in the sand, one of many along this treacherous coast; indeed, Cabo Polonio (where you ride later in the week) is named after a Spanish galleon that sank 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 and most likely starting to formulate his theories of evolution. Continue riding along the coast towards the lovely town of Punta del Diablo.

    Overnight in the posada Terrazas de la Viuda.
  • Day 6 6: PUNTO DEL DIABLO-VALIZAS - 6 hours riding

    Posada Valizas hotel
    Today starts with a drive to the coast where you will meet your horses and ride into the desert! This area has been declared a natural animal reserve and a Biosphere Natural Reserve by UNESCO. You will ride to Cabo Polonio, a charming fishing village which can only be reached by horse or four wheeled drive. This area is fascinating due to its huge shifting sand dunes - as you ride through it is possible to imagine that you are in the middle of the Sahara.

    After lunch at a typical restaurant on the beach you may 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 you may also spot a migrating whale. If you wish then you can swim here, on one of the most beautiful beaches in the country.

    After this ride full of surprises and diverse scenery, you will then begin your ride towards the small town of Valizas where you will enjoy dinner and spend the overnight at Posada Valizas.
  • Day 7 7: VALIZAS - GUARDIA DEL MONTE - 5 hours riding

    Estancia Guardia del Monte
    After breakfast, you will 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. Enjoy a picnic lunch before reaching the Castillos lagoon and then continue onto the Ombu Forest and charming Estancia Guardia del Monte, a traditional working estancia. Accommodation and dinner at Guardia del Monte.
  • Day 8 8: AROUND GUARDIA DEL MONTE - 4-6 hours riding

    Estancia Guardia del Monte
    The day starts with a lovely breakfast of homemade bread, jams and cakes, admiring the views of the countryside. You will start your ride towards the neighbour estancia Barra Grande. In the saddle, you will cross wetlands and the forest of Ceibos, Coronillas and native trees. You will enjoy lunch a typical ¨Uruguayan asado¨ before riding back to Guardia del Monte where you will spend the night.
  • Day 9 9: GUARDIA DEL MONTE - MONTEVIDEO - 2 hours riding

    Morning ride along the estancia's fields. There, you will have the chance to work alongside the gauchos and their trusty dogs as they tend to the cattle and sheep on this working ranch. The work varies depending on the time of the year, but the gauchos always welcome a bit of help 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 colourful belts all seem to have been born on a horse and it is a delight to be riding with them. Lunch will be had at Guardia del Monte before riding towards the small town of Castillos where we will visit a local “gaucho store”. Traditional bridles, typical riding “bombachas” (riding trousers), gaucho hats and colourful ponchos will be available to admire and buy! Say goodbye to the horses before heading back to Montevideo

    Transfer back to Montevideo (about 2h30 car drive) – to the airport, port, the city, or to start an extension tour. If departing Uruguay then your flight will likely depart in the early evening. Departure to Montevideo is usually scheduled around 14:00, arriving approximately at 17:00 - please do not book flights earlier than 19:00.

    Extensions are possible (Montevideo, Buenos Aires, Maldonado...). Please contact us for details.
  • Day 10 10: EUROPE

    Arrival back home during the morning.

Dates & prices

Price details

- Flights or transportation to your destination (international/domestic) are not included, but can be booked on request - please contact us for rates.     

- Rates are per person, based on two riders sharing a twin or double room during the ride. 

- The group is composed of a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 8 riders plus English speaking guide

- Please note: the ride will also confirm for 3 riders on payment of a supplement of c. $850/£650/€720 per person. Once the group has reached 4 people, we will remove this supplement from your invoice and refund you if you have already paid it.

- Transfers are included. On the last day of the ride, departure to Montevideo is usually scheduled around 14:00, arriving approximately at 17:00. This means that riders leaving on the same day should not book flights earlier than 19:00.

- If you sign up to the ride as a solo rider and there are no other riders likely to share your room, you will be charged a single room supplement of approx. $500/£385/€420. You will then be reimbursed if a sharer is found for you at a later date. Single rooms are limited on this trip to a maximum of 3 per ride, which means they will be allocated on a first served, first come basis. Please note that single rooms at Valizas have shared bathrooms.

- Rider weight limit is 95kg / 210 lbs / 15 st. If you weigh more than 95kg then it may be possible to join the ride on payment of a supplement of c. $350/£270/€300 so that a second horse can be provided for you

- Private groups of 4+ riders can request private dates from October to late April - please contact us.
Please Note
The itinerary may be modified at anytime for security reasons, meteorological or events beyond our control such as blocked roads, rivers in flood, drought, strikes and local holidays. Equus Journeys, our local partners and their local guides will always strive to find the best solution and will alter the itinerary as needed.
The names of the hotels and accommodation are given for information only and depending on availability, they may be modified without notice and replaced by another of a similar standard.

Price includes

Support Team

1 English-speaking horse guide
1 local horse guide

Logistic

1 horse equipped with saddle and bridle per rider
1 support vehicle

Inland transports

Private bus
Airport transfers

Accommodation

Double room in hotel standard 3/4*
Nights in haciendas

Meals

Full board from breakfast D2 to lunch D9

Additional equipment

First aid kit

Extra

Visit of Montevideo

Price doesn't include

Meals

Beverages and personal extras
Free meals in Montevideo

Transports

International flights
Airport local fees
Private transfer from and to Airport - if you arrive outside of suggested times

Extra

Tips to local team
Small group supplement. For price list see above in prices details

Insurance

Cancellation and travel insurances are not included. Please note that insurance is mandatory. We recommend to take out an insurance policy as soon as your travel is booked in case of cancellation.

Optional

Accommodation

Single room supplement
  • January - February 2021

    Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    26/02/2021 07/03/2021 £2,980 Open Book now
  • March - April 2021

    Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    19/03/2021 28/03/2021 £2,980 Open Book now
  • November - December 2021

    Departure Return Price without flights Price including flights Status
    05/11/2021 14/11/2021 £2,980 Guaranteed departure Book now
    26/11/2021 05/12/2021 £2,980 Open Book now

Equestrian info

Horses

You ride Criollo horses which have been bred and raised on the estancia's for working cattle. They are robust, independent and generous natured. You will ride a number of different horses during the week as each estancia has its own herd. 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 bred in this region. Criollo is a strong horse with an excellent walk and good character.

Saddles are traditional and consist of a basic frame with a sheepskin on top for comfort. The horses respond to neck-reining.

Minimum riding ability

Minimum riding ability

You must be capable and comfortable in all paces. There are horses suitable for experienced riders and also gentle horses for more nervous riders.

Rider weight limit: 95 kgs. Heavier riders can join the ride if they are willing to pay a supplement (that will allow your guide to bring a second horse for you)

Pace

The pace is mixed to include canters and occasional gallops, but there will also be long stretches of walk. When working with cattle the pace is usually slow, but the rides along the beaches and on grassy stretches can be faster.

Tacking ability and participation

You will be asked to help tack and untack, groom the horses, etc.

Trip conditions and Requested experience

During the ride every effort will be made to maintain the same set of horses throughout the whole tour. The intention is that then a rider can build a bond with their horse and enjoy not only the landscape and ride but also the company of their horse! The group will also be accompanied by one or more additional horses in case a change is needed.

Equestrian equipment

Saddles used are ‘western’ type with a sheep skin. The horses respond to 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.

Travel info

Comfort

During the trail you stay in working estancias which have been converted into comfortable guesthouses. Some are luxurious whereas others are more homely, but all are typical of the area. Some of the estancias have pools and/or saunas. Some of the nights are spent in small seaside hotels of good standards.

The first night is spent in a hotel in double, twin or triple rooms with private bathrooms.

Meals

After a full day in the saddle, you will be greeted by fully prepared meals that reflect the local cuisine. All meals are prepared with natural and fresh regional products. The local red meat, fish and wine are highly recommended, but vegetarians can easily be catered for with advance notice.

Please be careful with the water and always make sure it is drinkable.

Climate

The weather in Uruguay is variable, but you can expect somewhat warm spring and autumn temperatures, although we might also get some cool days (especially early in the morning or at night) and perhaps some rainy days too. The average temperature at this time of year is 65 F, average lows are 54 F, and average highs are 74 F.

Guide and local team

Since 2000, our partner Paola has been working with the best partners to create their unique rides, working with locals and charming inns, small boutique hotels and estancias. Your guiding team will be made up of English-speaking, knowledgeable guides.

Tips

While tipping rests entirely at your discretion, it is customary to leave a tip of around 10%.

Packing list

Head
- A riding helmet is compulsory and we recommend that you take your own to ensure a correct fit. Helmet makers (GPA, HKM, LAS Helmets, Lamicell, Troxel, Equithème) now offer horse-riding helmets that are ventilated, strong, light and comfortable. You also have the option of buying protective shells to go under your hats (Ranch & Rider, Lexington Safety Products) or western hat helmets (Troxel).
- Sunhat (indispensable)
- Sunglasses with high protection lenses - with a cord attached so they don't fly off when riding
- Buff or bandana for protecting your neck and face from the sun, wind or rain

Upper body
- Thermal underwear (t-shirts with long or short sleeves)
- T-shirts in cotton and long-sleeved shirts (to protect against the sun) or t-shirts made from rapid-dry material
- 1 lightweight fleece or jumper
- 1 lightweight waterproof jacket made from Gore-Tex or a similar material that is waterproof and breathable

Legs
- 2 pairs of lightweight, comfortable riding trousers or jodhpurs - we recommend riding in them at home before taking them on holiday to ensure they don't rub
- 1 change of riding trousers or jeans
- A swimming costume and a towel
- Non-irritant cotton or synthetic underwear

Hands and Feet
- 1 pair of comfortable riding or walking boots. We recommend short boots with half-chaps specifically for riding. We don't recommend taking your favorite leather boots in case they get damaged
- 1 pair of lightweight shoes or trainers for the evenings
- Several pairs of warm socks
- Gloves - your hands are particularly exposed to the sun whilst riding

Other useful items
- Water bottle (1.5 liters or 2 equivalent) better 2 bottles of 0.5l
- Headtorch or small torch for moving around at night - bring spare batteries and bulbs
- Toiletries
- Protein or cereal bars for the longer stretches of riding
- Swiss army knife or equivalent (in checking-in luggage!!)
- Small plastic bags for you rubbish
- Ear plugs (may be useful)
- Camera and high capacity memory card. Spare battery
- A pair of binoculars

Medical kit
Make sure any allergies (to medication or otherwise) and clearly stated in your medical kit
- Any medication you regularly take
- Painkillers
- Imodium or similar anti-diarrhea medication
- Vitamin C tablets
- Sunscreen and lip balm - should be high factor
- Insect repellent
- Eye drops
- Hydrating/ soothing cream
- Plasters
- Blister plasters in case of any rubs
- Antiseptic cream, plasters, aspirin, anti-histamine, insect-bite salve etc..
- 10cm wide bandage
- Spare prescription glasses/contact lenses
- Re-hydration sachets
- Antiseptic wipes
- Handwash gel

Our Recommendations
- Backpacks cannot be worn whilst riding. We recommend a small bumbag or a coat with pockets so that you can carry small items with you during the day (camera, sunscreen, lip balm etc)
- We recommend travelling in your riding boots and carrying your hat and some riding clothes in your hand luggage - then if your luggage goes astray you are still able to ride!
- We recommend taking a copy of your passport and insurance documents with you in case you lose your originals
- Hand luggage mustn't contain any sharp objects (knives, scissors, nail file or nail scissors, etc.) and the quantity of liquid allowed per passenger is limited to 100ml per container. Check with the airline for their imposed weight limits for hand/ hold luggage.


Visa & Health

Formalities

To enter Uruguay, a passport valid for the duration of stay is required by all Australian, British, Canadian, USA and other EU nationals.
Visas:
Visas for Uruguay are not required by nationals referred to above for stays of up to three months.
Nationals not referred to above are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements for Uruguay.

Addresses of consulates

  • Paris | Ambassade d’Uruguay
    15, rue Le Sueur
    75116 PARIS
    Tél. : 01.45.00.81.37
    Fax :
    amburuguay.urugalia@fr.oleane.com
  • Ambassade de France en Uruguay
    Avenida Uruguay 853
    CC 290 Montevideo
    Tél. : +598 21705 0000
    Fax :
    cad.montevideo-amba@diplomatie.gouv.fr
  • Uruguayan embassy
    125 Kensington High Street
    W8 5SF London
    Tél. : 020 7937 4170
    Fax : 020 7376 0502

Health

There are no vaccinations legally required to travel to Uruguay. There is one exception though. You need a yellow fever vaccination if you have travelled to a country (7 days or less before entering Uruguay) where that disease is widely prevalent.
It's a good thing to get your vaccinations in order before travelling to Uruguay. The general vaccination against Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP) is recommended. Also a hepatitis A vaccination is recommended and vaccination against hepatitis B, rabies and typhoid are also sometimes recommended for stays longer than 3 months.

Insurance

It is a condition of your booking with Equus Journeys that you have travel insurance which covers you for the riding activities to be undertaken. Your travel insurance should cover you for medical expenses and repatriation. Your guides will require your travel insurance details before they allow you to ride and may refuse to let you ride if you cannot provide them. You should take your insurance documents with you.

Voltage

220 volts AC, 50Hz. European-style round two-pin plugs and Australian-style flat, angled three-pin plugs are used

Budget and money

The currency is the Uruguayan Peso (Ur$). Banknote values are five, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000. There are coins of 50 centavos, one, two, five and 10 pesos.

MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Diners Club are the most commonly used credit cards. All are widely accepted in major tourist and business destinations including Montevideo, Punta del Este and Colonia del Sacramento. In rural areas, it's best to carry cash as many businesses will not accept credit cards.

ATMs marked with the green Banred or blue Redbrou logo are reliable and available in all cities, as well as some smaller towns. These serve all major international banking networks, including Cirrus, Visa, MasterCard and Maestro.

Telephone and jetlag

The telephone dialling code is +598

Roaming agreements exist with some international mobile phone operators. Visitors should check with their service provider before travelling. Mobile phones and SIM cards can also be easily obtained locally and are usually a less expensive option, especially for longer stays. Coverage is good in urban areas and patchy elsewhere.

Time zone is GMT -3

Did you know?

Did you know?

Discover gauchos

In Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, Tarija (Bolivia) and in Uruguay, the gaucho is one of the riding herdsmen of the South American pampas.

The gaucho culture was born in the flooded plains of the River Plata in the 18th century.

Since then, Uruguay shares with Argentina the romantic idea of the gaucho, as the emblematic rider of the pampa who embodies courage, honour and freedom.