The Painted Birds riding holiday in Uruguay - Far and Ride
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The Painted Birds, Uruguay


• Painted Birds Tour



Type of horses:

Criollo and Criollo cross

Nature of horses:

Solid, strong, sure footed with good character - perfect working horses

Height of horses:

14 - 15 hands high

Weight limit:

95 kg / 15 stone

Tack type:

Local saddles are simple wooden structures with sheepskins thrown over for comfort. They are perfect for long hours in the saddle. Bridles are simple and often made with rawhide. The horses are used to being neck-reined so you maintain a very light contact on their mouth.


Travel Advice

Please ensure you read the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice before you travel.

Ride Description

"Uruguay" means "River of the Painted Birds" in the local Guarani language and this riding trail takes you through traditional estancias, a biosphere wetlands reserve and along the beaches of the Atlantic ocean. Discover the land of the gaucho and his versatile working horse - the Criollo - whilst experiencing the thrill of driving cattle. Marvel at the variety of landscapes that you pass through and try to spot dolphins and sea lions along the coastline.

Moving on almost every night you experience the beauty of this region of Uruguay - riding along deserted beaches, over shifting sand dunes, through palm groves and shady woodland and along the shores of wetlands. There are lots of opportunities for canters on the grassy pastures or firm beaches. Each night ends at a charming hotel or local estancia where you can sample delicious local produce and wines.

As well as our full 7 night itinerary, we also have a shorter 3 night itinerary, which is a perfect add-on to any of our rides in South America. The coastal town of Punta del Este is known as the "St Tropez of South America" and is where many Argentine's will choose to holiday during the busy season of December/January. Outside of these months, the beaches are almost deserted and well worth a visit.

See Programmes.


Food & Accommodation

You stay in a combination of charming seaside hotels and estancias. All are clean and comfortable with private bathrooms. As this is a trail ride passing through some rural areas there is not always a huge choice of accommodation but it has been chosen with care.
See individual ride itineraries for more information.

Meals reflect the local cuisine and include lots of fresh, local produce. As you are riding across estancias famed for their beef production, red meat does feature highly in the diet, but fish is also popular. Vegetarians can be catered for with advance notice.



Sight-seeing, hiking, fishing, surfing, cycling, canoeing, bird watching.
Non-riders will be transferred between accommodations in the back-up vehicle but will not have specific activities laid on unless pre-arranged and booked.


Further Details

Languages: English, Spanish

Health requirements: There are no specific health requirements but you should be fit and generally healthy.

Age limit: Children are only accepted as part of a private group and would have to be confident riding a horse of c. 14hh.

Tuition: No

Included: Accommodation, riding, all meals and mineral water, transfers at set times

Not included: Flights, Insurance, Tips, Soft drinks and Alcoholic drinks (payable locally)


Travel Information

There are currently no direct flights to Montevideo from the UK.

One-stop flights are possible with LATAM via Brazil, Iberia via Madrid or British Airways via Buenos Aires.

Two-stop options are possible with Air France via Paris and Buenos Aires or Santiago; LAN and Iberia via Madrid and Santiago; KLM via Amsterdam and Buenos Aires.

If you want to visit Argentina as well as Uruguay then you can also take a ferry across the estuary from Buenos Aires to Montevideo if you prefer not to fly.

Transfers from Montevideo are included provided you arrive according to the times stated in the itineraries.

Airport: Montevideo

Alternative Airport: Buenos Aires



Painted Birds Tour

Discover the beauty of Uruguay on this horseback trail which journeys along secluded beaches, through wetlands and palm groves and onto working estancias. Experience the versatility of the Criollo horse as you canter down deserted beaches or work cattle with gauchos.

Day One: Montevideo

On arrival at Montevideo airport you will be met and transferred along the coastline to Montevideo and your downtown hotel. You will have lunch in the lively port market before going on a short walking tour of the Old City. Dinner is to your own account tonight so you can choose from one of the many restaurants on offer.

Day Two: Montevideo - Rocha - San Miguel

After breakfast you are transferred by road to the most beautiful province of Uruguay - Rocha - famed for it's pristine beaches, emerald shores and network of lagoons. Close to the small town of La Coronilla, you have lunch at Estancia La Rosada before embarking on your first ride. This ride around the estancia allows you to get used to the horses, style of riding and tack.

After a typical "merienda" (light meal) you continue onto Fortin de San Miguel, where you spend the night. This hotel is built of the same stone as a nearby Portugese fortress and offers spectacular views across one of the largest fresh water reserves in South America - Merin Lagoon - which is home to a large number of birds and native flora.

c. 2-3 hours riding

Day Three: Barra de Chuy

After breakfast you are driven to the town of Chuy which straddles the Brazilian border - inhabitants here speak a strange mixture of Portugese and Spanish! Mount your horses and set off riding towards the coast. After lunch and a siesta, using your horses saddle as a pillow, the afternoon offers a fast paced ride along the deserted beach of Barra de Chuy. There are seldom visitors to this beach and the pure white sands invite long, exhilarating canters. After 12 miles / 22 km you reach the town of La Coronilla and spend the night in a small beachside hotel.

c. 4-6 hours riding

Day Four: Santa Teresa national park

Today's ride heads south, alternating beaches, sand dune, pine forests and coastal hills until reaching the immense Santa Teresa national park. If you are lucky you may spot dolphins playing in the surf along the route.

The centre piece of the park is a fort which was built by the Portugese in 1762 to defend their territories. The fort was captured by the Spanish a year later who completed the building. Over the next years the fort was captured, lost and re-captured many times until it was finally won by the newly formed Uruguay in 1825. The fort is surrounded by 3000 hectares of forest containing a mixture of native and imported trees.

After a picnic lunch you ride along the forest trails and down onto the beach where you will pass one of many shipwrecks that are buried along this stretch of coastline. In fact, Cabo Polonia which you visit tomorrow, is named after a Spanish galleon which sank off the point. Fortunately Darwin's Beagle did not succumb to the seas and he was able to spend many years collecting species in Uruguay and formulating his theories of evolution. Continue riding along the beach until reaching the charming town of Punta del Diablo where you spend the night.

c. 4-6 hours riding

Day Five: Cabo Polonio

You start the day with a short drive down the coast to meet your horses. You ride into a UNESCO Biosphere Natural Reserve and through a huge area of shifting sand dunes, which will make you feel as though you are riding through the Sahara desert. Hidden amongst the dunes is the Brioso Lagoon. Upon reaching the charming fishing village of Cabo Polonio, which can only be reached by horse or 4WD, you stop for lunch at a typical restaurant on the beach. Here you will be able to watch seals and sea lions that inhabit the small islands in the bay, and you may be lucky enough to see a migrating whale as it passes by. Those who wish to can take a swim from this beautiful beach.

In the afternoon, continue riding to the town of Valizas where you will have dinner and spend the night in a posada.

c. 4-6 hours riding

Day Six: Valizas - Estancia Guardia del Monte

After breakfast, you ride along the beach of Valizas to the hidden Brioso Lagoon and the onto the wetlands of the Rocha. You will ride across an amazing untouched landscape of Palm groves. After a picnic lunch you continue riding to Castillos lagoon and then into the Ombu forest before reaching the traditional working estancia Guardia del Monte in the late afternoon. You will spend two nights here.

c. 4-6 hours riding

Day Seven: Castillos - Barra Grande - Castillo

After breakfast you ride towards a neighbouring estancia - Barra Grande. You cross wetlands and a magical forest of Ceibos, Coronillas and native trees. After a typical Uruguayan asado lunch, you ride back to Guardia del Monte for a final dinner.

c. 4-6 hours riding

Day Eight: Castillos - Montevideo

This morning is your chance to experience what it is like to be a gaucho on a traditional working estancia. The work varies depending on the time of year and you will work alongside the gauchos as they tend their sheep and cattle. You may be moving cattle or gathering them into corrals, perhaps catching a lame one for treatment. The friendly gauchos, with their berets and bombachas (riding trousers) and knives tucked into their colourful belts are a joy to watch as they work as a team with their dogs.

After lunch you ride towards the small town of Castillos. Here you can visit a local gaucho store where traditional bridles, bombachas (riding trousers), hats and ponchos will be available to admire and buy. Say goodbye to the horses and you are then transferred to the airport for your onward flight or to continue your holiday in Uruguay. Your flight should not depart earlier than 19:00.

Accommodation: You stay in a mixture of local hotels and estancias - all are clean and comfortable with double/twin beds.
Please note that hotels may vary depending on the availability at time of booking:
In Montevideo you stay at the Don Boutique hotel which has a pool and rooftop terrace overlooking the water.
On your second night you stay at Fortin de San Miguel, a traditional building with spectacular views.
In La Coronilla you stay in one of the many hotels.
Your fourth night is at Posada Terrazas de la Viuda - a modern hotel close to the beach.
Your fifth night is at the Posada La Perla.
Your final two nights are at Estancia Guardia del Monte - a traditional, working estancia.
Minimum group size: 2
Maximum group size: 8
Ability description: You should be at least an intermediate rider who is comfortable in all paces. There are lots of opportunities for long canters, but the horses are generally sensible and easy to ride.
Type of ride: Trail ride
Total riding time: 8 days / 7 nights. 7 days riding.
Departure dates: 2021: 27 February-6 March, 20-27 March, 6-13 November, 27 Nov-4 December

Additional dates can be requested for private groups (Oct-Dec; late Feb-April)
Pricing: 2021:

1 rider: 4150 (includes single supplement)
2-3 riders: 3427 per person sharing
4-8 riders: 2812 per person sharing

There is a single supplement of 361 for anyone in a single room - if you are willing to share and we find a sharer for you then we will refund this. There are only three single rooms available and please note that on some nights single rooms are not guaranteed a private bathroom and may have to share.

Riders over 95kg will be asked to pay a supplement so that a second horse can be provided for them. This supplement is USD 350 per person and will be charged on arrival if the rider is found to be over the weight limit.

Note: All programmes and itineraries are weather dependent; in the face of adverse, or unexpected, weather conditions reasonable attempts will be made to provide equivalent riding.

All programmes are accurate at the time of writing. However, the team may adapt or modify details, whilst aiming to provide a similar experience.