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Uruguay - Atlantic Coast Ride
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Horse Riding Holidays Uruguay – Atlantic Coastal Trails

PRICES & DATES top

The Atlantic Coastal Rides: Prices 2022

GBP, £ EUR, € USD, $
Choose your currency

The Discovery Trail – 6 nights

  • $2,909
    • GBP: 2,370
    • EUR: 2,755
    per person sharing – 4 plus riders
  • $509
    • GBP: 415
    • EUR: 482
    single supplement
  • $4,191
    • GBP: 3,415
    • EUR: 3,969
    per person sharing – 2-3 riders
  • $509
    • GBP: 415
    • EUR: 482
    single supplement

The Emerald Coastal Trail – 7 nights

  • $3,596
    • GBP: 2,930
    • EUR: 3,406
    per person sharing
  • $509
    • GBP: 415
    • EUR: 482
    single supplement

Note: Rates are subject to daily exchange rate fluctuations, please refer to our ‘Terms & Conditions’ for full details.

The Atlantic Coast Ride: Dates 2022

The Discovery Trail
19 – 25 February
21 – 27 March
3 – 9 April
16 – 22 October
13 – 19 November
11 – 17 December

The Emerald Coastal Trail
5 – 12 March
26 March – 2 April
5 – 12 November
26 November – 3 December

Included – All the riding, accommodation, meals and airport transfers.

Excluded – Flights, dinner in Montevideo on the first night, drinks & tips.

Getting There
International flight to Montevideo, usually via Buenos Aires or Sao Paolo.

Transfer
Only a 25 minute transfer to a central hotel.

All our horse riding holidays hold a price guarantee. We believe in your piece of mind on price when you book one of our horse riding holidays and will refund the difference should you find the same horse riding holiday elsewhere at a lower price.

SUMMARY OF THE TRIP top

Uruguay is an amazing destination for a horse riding holiday – theses two Atlantic Coastal trails take you on adventures where you will ride over the fertile rolling grasslands where cattle are farmed, staying in authentic estancias on the way, following the wonderful coastline of the Atlantic ocean giving way to long, unspoilt, sandy beaches, perfect for galloping.

The experienced English horse woman Sally Vergette runs the Atlantic Coastal Rides and you can expect top class horses and a good mix of authentic accommodation, where you’ll be warmly received. Joining you on your ride are local gauchos, which add to the cultural experience of this Atlantic Coastal adventure, they’ll tend your horses and tell fascinating stories of their lives and traditions in this little known South American country.

The Atlantic Coastal Rides route itself takes you over large estancias through some of Uruguay’s protected National Parks. You’ll also ride across sand dunes and along deserted sandy beaches, through groves of enormous palm trees and past inland lakes teeming with wildfowl – the name Uruguay means ‘river of the painted birds’ in the traditional Guaraní local language. The going is really good and there are lots of opportunities for exhilarating canters.

The Atlantic Coastal Rides give you the chance to visit historic Portuguese forts, spending your nights in authentic working estancias and beach-side hotels – you may even see dolphins, black necked swans, parrots and capybaras (the giant guinea pig like creatures of the South American wetlands) as you ride.

Highlights Discovery Trail
DAY 1: Arrival in Rocha Province & Afternoon Ride. Dinner & Overnight at the Estancia.
DAY 2: Estancia Lands, Ombues & Palms. Dinner & Overnight at a 2-roomed Posada.
DAY 3: Gaucho Trails, Pine Forests & Lagoon. Dinner & Overnight at a 4 roomed Posada in shady
gardens.
DAY 4: Across the Estuary, Dunes & Beaches. Dinner & Second Overnight at the charming 4 roomed
Posada.
DAY 5: Northwards Along the Coast. Dinner & Overnight at Posada full of character.
DAY 6: Forts & Shipwrecks. Dinner & Overnight at a Hotel.
DAY 7: Gaucho Style Cattle & sheep work at Estancia. Lunch, return drive to Montevideo.

Highlights Emerald Coastal Trail
DAY 1: Montevideo – Tour of the Capital City & Port Market. Overnight at Don Boutique Hotel
DAY 2: Estancia Life & 18th Century Fortín de San Miguel. Dinner & Overnight at Fortin de San Miguel
DAY 3: Barra de Chuy Beach – Brazilian Border & Pristine Beaches. Dinner & Overnight at Parque Oceanico
DAY 4: Santa Teresa National Park, Dolphins & Shipwrecks. Dinner & Overnight at Posada Terrazas
DAY 5: Biosphere Natural Reserve, Cabo Polonio, Shifting Sands & Sea Lions. Dinner & Overnight at Posada Valizas.
Day 6: Wetlands, Hidden Briosso Lagoon & Ombu Forest. Dinner & Overnight at Guardia del Monte
DAY 7: The Fascinating Wetlands of the Castillos Lagoon. Dinner & Overnight at Guardia del Monte.
DAY 8: Cattle & Sheep Work with the Gauchos at the Estancia. Final Day, lunch & departure.

THE RIDING top

Horses – Mostly local Uruguayan Criollo, crossed with Thoroughbred & Quarter Horse. Generally between 14.2hh to 16hh, well suited to the terrain, responsive and forward going. There are at least two changes of horses during the ride (sometimes more) with one or more spare horse accompanying the group.

Level of Riding & Pace – Intermediate to Advanced.

Tack – Western style with sheepskin covered saddle, which are very comfortable for the long hours of riding.

Weight Restriction – 210 lbs / 95 kgs / 15 stone.

Heavier weights can be accommodated with prior notice and a supplement for an extra horse.

Group Size – 2 minimum and 12 maximum.

ACCOMMODATION top

A carefully chosen combination of local hotels and estancias. The older traditional properties have wonderful charm and are very comfortable, but the standard does vary and on some nights the accommodation is smaller and simpler. All rooms have their own private bathrooms.

Food on the Atlantic Coastal rides are good quality and includes a combination of European and typical Uruguayan dishes, you’ll enjoy excellent beef and plenty of ‘asados’ (barbecues).

We have travelled the world testing a huge variety of horse riding holidays to make sure we offer you, our client, the best horse riding holiday experience possible.

Our horse riding holidays are thoroughly researched – we consider all the elements that go towards making our horse riding holidays collection the best in the world. We check the quality of the horses, if they are fit for the job, well produced and looked after. We make sure the riding terrain is good going, the countryside is interesting and, for example, on Classic Dressage horse riding holidays, the arenas are in good condition. We make sure the accommodation, whether it’s a five star hotel, a farmhouse or camping, is clean and comfortable, and offers a great night’s sleep. The food is all important too – we take the time to make sure we tell you if it’s cordon bleu, home cooked, or regional and locally sourced – above all it has to be delicious, plentiful and nourishing. Last but not least, we choose the horse riding holidays that have the best hosts, who are friendly, warm and welcoming.

It’s only when all these elements come together that we add a horse riding holiday into our hand-picked collection of horse riding holidays.

Horse Riding Holidays like the Atlantic Coast Ride are part of the Zara’s Planet collection of Horse Riding Holidays Uruguay.

SAMPLE ITINERARY top

Uruguay, with the gaucho culture and pristine coastline, is made for riding.
Discover the charms of this tranquil South American gem while journeying through the beautiful province of Rocha on excellent horses in the company of the local horsemen. Along deserted beaches, across pastures, through wetlands & woodlands, over rolling hills; passing historic forts and shipwrecks and skirting lagoons to arrive at estancias and laze on verandas in idyllic locations. We spot a great variety of fascinating wildlife as we ride through UNESCO reserves & national parks and sample the delicious local food and Uruguayan wine with our delightful hosts.

The Discovery Trail – Detailed Itinerary
DAY 1: Arrival in Rocha Province & Afternoon Ride.
Morning departure from Montevideo airport/city, on the banks of the wide Rio de la Plata estuary in a private vehicle, arriving on the Atlantic coast in the stunning province of Rocha. On the drive from Montevideo, we usually spot rheas (large ‘ostrich-like’ South American flightless bird) as well as other interesting bird species – roadrunners, caracaras, herons, egrets… After lunch at a typical ‘rancho‘ in the heart of Gaucho country and once guests are comfortable on their horses, the bilingual guide and second guide will accompany them to Guardia del Monte, an old, historically important estancia in a stunning location beside a lagoon. A great route for bird  watching and, on arrival, a delicious glass of Uruguayan wine can be enjoyed on the veranda, watching an incredible sunset and ‘fly passes’ by ducks and ibis low over the lagoon. Dinner & Overnight at the Estancia.
L, D (approx. 2.5 hours riding)

DAY 2: Estancia Lands, Ombues & Palms
After breakfast, a circuit ride on the estancia lands, learning about estancia and gaucho life as guests ride across the pastures through native woodlands including ceibo trees (national tree). Lunch back at this historical estancia then a 2.5 hour ride to the exquisitely built wooden cabins of Ombues de Valizas for dinner and overnight.
Along the way, riding through the wetland areas and grasslands, a good chance of seeing southern screamers, storks and armadillos. Riders also pass palm trees, a disconcerting picture with sheep grazing beneath them! Ombues – an extraordinary tree grows here. This evening riders can hear all about this strange ombue tree, strangler figs and the band of palm trees that crosses this area.
Dinner & Overnight at a 2-roomed Posada.
B, L, D (approx. 4.5 hours riding

DAY 3: Gaucho Trails, Pine Forests & Lagoon
Today guests ride to the coast, to the seaside village of Valizas, by way of pastures and cattle drovers trails – the
country is still crisscrossed with these wide sandy tracks so vital to Uruguay’s economy which is based on the rearing and sale of cattle, sheep and lamb and their by-products – leather and wool. These routes were used by the gauchos to slowly herd the fat cattle to the docks and later the train stations to ship the beef to Europe. Riders often sight burrowing owls in the fields. After lunch, a 3 hour ride to the beautiful Briosso Lagoon through pine forests. Dinner & Overnight at a 4 roomed Posada in shady gardens.
B, L, D (approx. 5.5 hours riding

DAY 4: Across the Estuary, Dunes & Beaches
Today the ride starts with taking the horses across the mouth of a small estuary, ridden or ‘towed’ by boat, depending on the tides. A full day ride through a fascinating dune system, (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 an interesting outpost. A lighthouse sits on the point but, due to the treacherous seas and various battles over the centuries, many shipwrecks litter the seabed. Sea lions lounge on the rocks during most of the year (the largest colony in South America) and, arriving at the small village, riders can visit the basking sea lions and lighthouse and also swim in the beautiful bay. Lunch at a beach side restaurant, with fresh fish and seaweed on the menu.
In the afternoon, guests ride back to Valizas via a different route. The ride ends alongside the estuary with fascinating bird viewing. Dinner & 2nd Overnight at the charming 4 roomed Posada.
B, L, D (approx. 5 hours riding)

DAY 5: Northwards Along the Coast A longer ride northwards up the coast to Punta del Diablo – on fresh horses. During a stop for a picnic lunch and a siesta, riders can try the famous ‘mate’ drink, a gaucho beverage that the whole population enjoys and also see how the traditional saddle converts into a bed: the thick sheepskins that the gauchos ride on becoming a comfortable sleeping mat. Along beaches, over dunes, through coastal forests, riders
often spot dolphins feeding in the bays and sometimes see turtles and fish jumping as well as many shore birds on the water’s edge. Arriving at the Punta del Diablo, riders enjoy the excellent food and accommodation at Posada Nativos. Dinner & Overnight at Posada full of character.
B, L, D (approx. 6.5 hours riding)

DAY 6: Forts & Shipwrecks
Today riders continue up the coast with faster paced riding again possible on the firm beaches (5.5hrs). A detour into the forests of the Santa Teresa National Park bring riders to the large, restored fort that played a huge role in Uruguay’s Independence. The guide will explain the history and describe some of the battles in which the fort constantly changed hands including a sneaky taking of the fort. After a picnic lunch, on one of the beaches, riders realize that the metal structure they are standing on – mainly buried by sand- is actually one of the many shipwrecks along the coast. Arriving at Parque Oceanico, an excellent beachside hotel, riders can enjoy the indoor and outdoor pools, a swim in the sea or a soak in the outdoor jacuzzi (hot tubs) or relax with a cold beer or glass of excellent local wine. Dinner & Overnight at a Hotel.
B, L, D (approx. 5.5 hours riding

DAY 7: Gaucho Style
An excellent way to finish this ride, thoroughly enjoyed by all: “helping” the famous gauchos with the cattle. (2.5hrs). Working alongside the gauchos, riders learn how to herd, separate and count the not always compliant bovines! After a swim, shower and lunch back at the hotel, a private transfer to Montevideo (or onto one of our other adventures). Most of the places that we stay only have a few bedrooms (one Posada has 2 rooms), making this a very special trip. After a swim, shower and lunch, a return drive to Montevideo.
B, L (approx. 2.5 hours riding

The Emerald Trail – Detailed Itinerary
DAY 1: Montevideo – Tour of the Capital City & Port Market. Today is set aside to relax and explore the city of
Montevideo. Guests are met at the airport/port and driven past the beaches along the estuary shoreline boulevard called the “Rambla” to the downtown hotel. Meet the group and enjoy lunch at the lively Port Market and then a short walking tour of the “Old City” of Montevideo with a local, bilingual guide. The guide will also help with changing money, suggestions for a dinner location and anything else you need to arrange or answer questions you may have. Overnight at Don Boutique Hotel.

DAY 2: Estancia Life & 18th Century Fortín de San Miguel.
After breakfast, we will be driven to the Rocha Province, arguably the most beautiful province in Uruguay with pristine beaches, emerald seas and a beautiful network of lagoons. We will arrive to Estancia “La Rosada”, inland of the village of La Coronilla. After lunch, once guests are settled on their horses, enjoy an introduction ride through the estancia lands in order to get to know our horses and tack. After a typical “merienda”, we continue on to the Brazilian border and Fortín de San Miguel, built in the same stone as the nearby fortress started in 1737 by the Portuguese. Located on what is now the Brazilian border the “Merín Lagoon”- one of the largest fresh-water reserves of South America, stretches away northwards. This area is home to a wide variety of birds and has many different native trees and bushes. Relax around the hotel swimming pool. Dinner & Overnight at Fortín de San Miguel.
B, L, D

DAY 3: Barra de Chuy Beach – Brazilian border & ride along a pristine beach.
After breakfast, we will be driven to ‘Chuy’, a very curious town straddling the border where guests can step into Brazil and hear the locals speak an intriguing language made up of a mix of Spanish and Portuguese. Continue on to meet our horses to start a 3-4 hours ride towards the coast. We ride along cattle droving tracks. After a picnic lunch, riders enjoy a pleasant “siesta” discovering that gauchos’ saddles are as comfortable to sleep on as they are to ride on! In the afternoon, we will enjoy a fast-pace ride along the wonderful, isolated ocean beach of ‘Barra Chuy’. Visitors seldom reach this beach so we can enjoy exhiliarating canters with no signs of habitation as we ride across the pure white sands alongside the Atlantic Ocean. Many shoreline birds of the area are spotted, for example cormorants, terns & sandpipers. We arrive 22km (14 miles) further south to “La Coronilla” and stay at a beachside hotel with outdoor & indoor swimming pools, Outdoor & indoor jacuzzi (hot tub) and a whole ocean. Dinner & Overnight at Parque Oceanico
B, L, D (approx. 6 hours riding

DAY 4: Santa Teresa National Park, Dolphins & Shipwrecks.
Out the hotel and straight onto the beach. After a canter, we come across a shipwreck buried in the sand. The coastline is littered with shipwrecks but luckily, The HMS Beagle with Charles Darwin aboard did not succumb to this fate – Darwin spent quite some time in Uruguay collecting species, most likely starting to formulate his theories of evolution while here. Riding southwards, promontories allow us a good view of the ocean and we often see dolphins feeding in the bays, sometimes turtles. Alternating between beaches, pines and native scrub we arrive at the Santa Teresa National Park. The centre piece of the park is a fort, construction starting in 1762 by the Portuguese but completed by the Spaniards, who took it by assault just a year later. This was just the beginning of a dizzying succession of conquering, losing and reconquering the fort; it was not until 1825 that the independence forces finally captured the fort helping pave the way to establish Uruguay. Your guide will fill you in on the details.
After a picnic lunch in the national park we will enjoy riding along the forest trails in the 3000 hectare park (7413 acres) back to the beach, continuing along the coast to the picturesque village of Punta del Diablo. Dinner & Overnight at Posada Terrazas
B, L, D (approx. 6 hours riding)

DAY 5: Biosphere Natural Reserve, Cabo Polonio, Shifting Sands & Sea Lions.
The day starts with a drive down the coast where we will ride into the desert! This area has been declared a Biosphere Natural Reserve by UNESCO. We ride to Cabo Polonio – an isolated fishing village turned tourism spot, which can only be reached by horse or 4×4 – perched on a cape between the ocean and a sea of sand dunes. Riding between high sand dunes, the horses drinking at a freshwater oasis, it is easy to imagine that we are right in the middle of a desert. Emerging onto the beach, we pick up the pace and soon arrive at Cabo Polonio visible on the horizon. A swim on one of the two magnificent beaches, lunch at a charming restaurant on the beach and then guests can visit the light house and observe the sea lions and fur seals offshore. These sea lions make up the largest population in South America. Migrating whales are also occasionally spotted (October-November). We then begin our ride through another part of the dunes, under pine trees and along the banks of an estuary to the village of Valizas. Dinner & Overnight at Posada Valizas
B, L, D (approx. 6 hours riding)

DAY 6: Wetlands, Hidden Briosso Lagoon & Ombu Forest.
After breakfast, we ride along Valizas beach, hopefully sighting dolphins and, at certain times of the year, whales.
Then, turning inland, ride through shady pine forests to the hidden Briosso Lagoon and continue into a landscape of palm groves and pastures to the wetlands area. The bird life is fascinating, normally we see a huge variety of birds on this ride as we leave the beaches to cross woodland, pastures and wetlands arriving at the lagoon– for example the small, communal burrowing owls atop their mounds, the great rhea, seriema (road runners), black necked swans, roseate spoonbills, herons… Stopping to enjoy a picnic lunch on the way we then continue on to Castillos Lagoon through an Ombu Forest with ominously named strangler figs alongside the curious ombu ‘trees’, arriving at the charming Estancia Guardia del Monte, a traditional working estancia. Dinner & Overnight at Guardia del Monte
B, L, D (approx. 6 hours riding

DAY 7: The Fascinating Wetlands of the Castillos Lagoon.
The day starts with a lovely breakfast of homemade bread, jams and cakes, served in the oldest, slate-built, part of the house with views out to the lagoon. The site of the estancia was once an outpost for Spanish soldiers then became a productive ranch. Our ride begins by skirting the lagoon, a host of birds wading along the water’s edge, possibly a capybara dashing into the reeds as we approach. Onwards towards the neighbouring estancia Barra Grande – crossing wetlands and passing through enchanting forest of Ceibos, Coronillas and many other native trees, draped with ‘old man’s beard’. We arrive at a local wood-constructed ‘rancho’ for a typical ¨Uruguayan asado¨ lunch and the opportunity to try the famous ‘mate’ drink served in a gourd and sipped through a silver ‘bombillo’. After a siesta and a walk in the curious and quite unique Ombu forest, we ride back to the Estancia across the grasslands and checking the cattle as we go. Dinner & Overnight at Guardia del Monte
B, L, D (approx. 6 hours riding)

DAY 8: Cattle & Sheep Work with the Gauchos at the Estancia.
Morning ride on the estancia pastures, joining the gauchos and a chance of working alongside them and their trusty dogs as they tend to the cattle and sheep on this working ranch. The tasks will vary depending on the time of the year, but the gauchos always welcome a bit of help checking and moving the sometimes reluctant bovines and skittish sheep. Riders can see how to count the animals (not as easy as it first appears!) and also put the animals in the corrals. Sometimes a lame animal has to be caught and tended to. The wonderful, friendly gauchos with their berets, 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 is served at Guardia del Monte before some final canters, riding towards the small town of Castillos where we say goodbye to the horses, swap to a vehicle and visit a local “gaucho store”. Traditional bridles, typical riding “bombachas” (riding trousers), gaucho hats and colourful ponchos are available to admire and buy! We will then be heading back to Montevideo – to the airport, port, the city, or to start an extension tour (for flights/ferries out today, we will advise earliest time we can get you to airport/port).
B, L (approx. 5 hours riding)

 

DESTINATION MAP top

Zara’s Planet Horse Riding Holidays Guarantee:

All our horse riding holidays hold a price guarantee. We believe in your piece of mind on price when you book one of our horse riding holidays and will refund the difference should you find the same horse riding holiday elsewhere at a lower price.

If you are having trouble finding exactly the right horse riding holiday for you from our horse riding holidays collection, please contact us directly using the form below and tell us in your own words what you would like to do and we will use our extensive knowledge to make sure we find that perfect horse riding holiday.

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Uruguay Holidays Testimonials

Rosey on Atlantic Coast Ride, Uruguay

I yearn to be back in Uruguay, I loved everything about it - Life seems such a dismally gaucho-free zone. It's so dull without glimpses of their amazing belts, boots, hats and their absolutely virtuoso riding...

Rosey from London