Ride Overview - Hidden Gem Trail
A stunning horse back riding vacation in Uruguay! With a gaucho culture and pristine coastline, Uruguay is made for riding. You will discover the charms of this tranquil South American hidden gem while riding through the beautiful province of Rocha and the UNESCO Natural Biosphere Reserve and RAMSAR Site. Experienced local guides will lead you along deserted beaches and through wetlands and woodlands. Your trails trace rolling hills and pass shipwrecks and lagoons. Your lodging includes comfortable estancias and B & B’s with an optional glamping night in idyllic locations. In addition, you will see a variety of fascinating wildlife and sample delicious traditional food and wine.“It was a most special ride. Steeped in culture and history. Fabulous horses. Forging through lagoons, beautiful wooded trails, lots of galloping on the beach, trotting races, crossing tidal basins in a small boat with the horses swimming beside us. The guides are SO much fun! Never have I had a riding trip team listen so carefully with the aim to fulfill all our wishes! They are an absolute joy to spend time with. It was unusual in that we stopped to visit a lighthouse/museum, a military-maintained greenhouse, an animal preserve, a military fort/museum – all during the ride. We would park the horses and set off on foot! The food and accommodations were true and authentic… all of them unique experiences that were oh so carefully planned and executed.Our various hosts had so much to offer in personalities and stories.” N.B.
Ride Itinerary - Hidden Gem Trail
In the morning, you will be privately transferred from Montevideo to Barra Grande (3 hrs). You will begin your riding week in a private natural reserve by the shore of Castillos Lagoon, immersed in middle of the East Wetlands UNESCO Natural Biosphere Reserve (since 1976). After a homemade delicious asado, your expert gaucho guide of this area will lead you through an adventurous crossing of the wetlands, and some challenging canters in the land of the estancia, without forgetting some interesting stories of the numerous wildlife species of this protected reserve. The east wetlands are home to hundreds of different mammals, amphibians, fishes and birds such as Rheas, several species of ibis like the Pink Egret, Chaja torquata, armadillos and the most beautiful black-necked swan. At the end of the day, you will arrive at the Estancia Guardia del Monte, a bicentenary working estancia, for an overnight stay. (2 1/2 hours riding)
Chirping birds are the only sound that will awake you in this estancia! After breakfast, you will ride inside the estancia lands. Today, you will see why horses and gauchos are still so good on their jobs. After lunch, your trails will cross wetlands and prairies so you can discover the unique ombues forest secret, a botanical very strange formation that surrounds the shore of the lagoon. Your next accommodation will be Ombúes de Valizas. Energy and water self-sufficient and quite isolated from the main road, this lodge is a real hidden gem. But don’t worry very comfortable rooms and a delicious dinner is also assured here in the most intimate environment. (4 to 5 hours day horse riding)
After dining on a special homemade breakfast while watching the black-necked swans from your room, you will start early in the morning for a ride towards the Atlantic coast. Crossing pastureland of ancient working estancias bordering the beautiful Valizas River, a natural connection between Castillos Lagoon and the ocean, your group will arrive in Barra de Valizas. The sign at the entrance reads ‘simple and natural’, representing this fishermen’s village perfectly. Once you arrive on the beach, you will enjoy a traditional seafood lunch in one of the best restaurants of the area. In the afternoon, you will ride through a pine forest in search of the Hidden Lagoon. You will then ride along a pristine beach to your inn, Posada Valizas (www.posadavalizas.com). (5 to 6 hours day horse riding)
This horseback ride starts with taking the horses across the mouth of a small estuary, either ridden or towed by boat, depending on the tides. You can expect a full day of trails which take you through a fascinating dune system, now a national park, to Cabo Polonio, a fishing village turned ‘low-key’ beach resort. The village is only accessible through these shifting sand dunes making the village a fascinating outpost. Lunch at a traditional restaurant, with fresh fish, seaweed and paella on the menu. You will then ride back to Valizas through pungent pine forests. Overnight and dinner at Posada Valizas (www.posadavalizas.com) (4 to 5 hours day horse riding)
At dawn, you will mount up after a small breakfast snack. The magical light of the first sun rays and the smell of the ocean will invigorate you to begin cantering on the beach. The only sound will be the surf and hoofbeats. Mid-morning, your group will stop for breakfast and resting the horses. Continuing along the coast of this endless beach, you will ride for hours without seeing another person. Shipwrecks, marine wildlife, diverse buoys and other ships artifacts are usually found on this really challenging riding day! At the end, you will arrive at Punta del Diablo, a popular fishermen’s village. A very enjoyable dinner and overnight at Posada Nativos (www.nativos.com.uy) is waiting for you. (6 hours day horse riding)
During the morning, you will ride across a quaint village to reach Santa Teresa Park, a recreational-forest park administrated by the national army. You will visit different greenhouses where diverse tropical and sub-tropical species of native and foreign plants as well as more of 300 different kinds of roses are cared for by the soldiers. This is a very good place to see the protected native fauna like Capybara, Collared Peccary and the Yellow Cardinal. After a picnic lunch under centenary trees, you will continue riding to the ancient fortress of Santa Teresa, a Portuguese-Spanish construction made to protect the border between both empires. You will feel like you have stepped back in time as you ride across historic battlefields. Next you will visit the Cerro Verde and Islas de La Coronilla National Park, another Protected Area (SNAP) where the protagonist are the sea turtles! Your day ends in La Coronilla where you will overnight in a very comfortable oceanside Hotel Parque Oceánico (www.hotelparqueoceánico.com.uy) with warm and cold water swimming pools and outdoor Jacuzzi. (5 to 6 hours day horse riding)
Do you want to experience what it feels to be a real gaucho? If so, this day is for you! La Coronilla is a gaucho’s town on the Atlantic coast. You will start early in the morning to ride your horse to work with the gauchos and the cattle. Here you will learn the skills of an authentic gaucho! Once you face your horse to the cattle, you will find there is another horse with you. As a reward for your work, you will return to the hotel with a very long beach canter. After lunch, you will be transferred back to Montevideo for your home departure.
*The guide reserves the right to change the itinerary based on unforeseen circumstances.
Ride Details - Hidden Gem Trail
Dates: September 29th-October 5th, November 10th-16th, December 8th-14th, 2020: February 16th-22nd, March 22nd-28th, April 26th-May 2nd, September 27th-October 3rd, November 22nd-28th, December 13th-19th This ride can be customized.
Airport: Carrasco International Airport
Riding Days: 7
Daily Riding Hours: 4 – 5
Riding Ability: STRONG INTERMEDIATE: Confident and in control at all paces including posting trots for long periods, two point canters and gallops in open country.
Group Size: 2 – 10
Horses: Criollo, Criollo Mestizos
Saddles: South American with sheepskin covers and saddlebags (western type)
Maximum Weight limit: 90 Kg./ 198 lbs
Accommodations: 3*** and 4**** estancias and B & B’s. One night is glamping for groups over 4 people.
Non-Riding Activities: hiking, birdwatching, spa, surfing, biking
Price: $3,150.00 per person double occupancy $395.00 single supplement
Small Group Fee (less than 4 total riders) – $1,390.00 per person
Overweight supplement – add $400.00 per person
Optional Pre-Ride Hotel – 1 night at Hotel Hilton Garden Inn (Montevideo) with airport transfer to/from hotel $130.00 per person, double occupancy
Included: 6 nights’ lodging, horse, tack, trilingual horse and nature local guide (Spanish, English and Italian), all meals described in the itinerary (from lunch on day 1 to lunch on day 7); transfer to and from Montevideo, 1 night at Estancia Guardia del Monte (private double room with private bathroom), 1 night at Ombúes de Valizas (private double room with private bathroom), 2 nights at Posada Valizas (private double room with private bathroom), 1 night at Punta del Diablo (private double room with private bathroom), 1 night at Parque Oceánico (private double room with private bathroom), visit to Cabo Polonio National Park, Cerro Verde e Islas de La Coronilla National Park and Santa Teresa Park
Not included: airfare, medical insurance (mandatory), meals not included in the itinerary, alcoholic beverages, tips.
ANNUAL TEMPERATURE AND RAINFALL:
Hidden Gem Trail: Gallery
Hidden Gem Trail