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The Painted Birds

Overview

"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 …

Highlights

  • Canter down the beach, across wetlands and farmland
  • Try to spot dolphins and sealions along the coast
  • Try your hand at being a gaucho on a working estancia
  • Enjoy the varied landscapes from your Criollo horse
  • Relax with local wines at comfortable estancias

Essential Facts

  • 1 itinerary available
  • Max 8 riders per group
  • Average of 4 - 5 hours riding per day
  • Weight limit: 95 kg / 210 lbs / 15 stone

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 this full 8 night itinerary, we also have a shorter itinerary which is a perfect add-on to any of our rides in South America - see our Coastal Beaches and Vineyards ride for more details.

Horses & Riding

Tack

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.

Horses

Criollo and Criollo cross

The Criollo is the traditional horse of Uruguay, Argentina and southern Brazil. The breed was developed from horses that arrived from Spain in the 17th century and were then bred in the region. They are strong horses with an excellent walk and good character - traditionally used by local gauchos to work cattle.

You will usually ride two horses during the week so you can build a relationship with your horse, but spares are available if you need to change.

Riding

There is 1 itinerary:

  • Painted Birds Tour is a trail ride

Ages

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

Health

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

Weight

95 kg / 210 lbs / 15 stone

Food & Accommodation

Food

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. Good quality wines are always available for purchase.

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.

Please note that hotels may vary depending on the availability at time of booking, but these are the usual hotels:

In Montevideo you stay at the Hotel Cottage which is a deluxe Boutique hotel.
On your second and third nights you stay at Hotel Parque Oceanico in La Coronilla, which is a superior tourist beachside hotel.
Your fourth night is at Chacras de Laguna Negra in Punta del Diablo. This is a deluxe countryside home.
Your fifth night is at Don Bosco in Palmares de Rocha - this tourist countryside accommodation is simple and rustic.
Your sixth night is at Posada Valizas in Valizas. This is tourist beach house
Your final two nights are at Estancia Anastasio which is a deluxe Boutique hotel.

Itineraries

Painted Birds Tour Standard accommodation.

Other Activities

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.

Travel

There are currently no direct flights to Montevideo from the UK, but there are both One-stop and two-stop flights which route through other countries. Popular routes are through major European hub cities such as Madrid, Amsterdam or Paris, or through Brazil and Argentina.

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 take the short one-hour flight.

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

Itinerary & Pricing

Day 1 - Montevideo

Riding: No riding.

Today is set aside to relax and explore the coastal city of Montevideo. You will overnight in the residential neighbourhood of Carrasco, from where you can enjoy an afternoon tour including lunch at the port market and a mate tasting.

Overnight at the Hotel Cottage.

Day 2 - Montevideo - Rocha

Riding: 2 - 3 hours

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. You will arrive at your hotel Parque Oceanico where you'll enjoy a traditional Sunday asado (BBQ).

After lunch you transfer to a local estancia where you'll meet your horses and enjoy a wonderful ride along the estancia fields. Return just in time for dinner.

Day 3 - Barra del Chuy

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

After breakfast you are driven to 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 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. Toast your first long ride with cocktails before dinner at your hotel.

Day 4 - Santa Teresa national park

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

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 later), 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 in a typical, local countryside home.

Day 5 - Punta del Diablo - Don Bosco

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

After breakfast you transfer 6 minutes to meet your horses. Today you ride across amazing untouched landscapes of palm groves including various ecosystems that offer the opportunity to experience the diverse flora and fauna of the area. After a picnic lunch along the way you arrive to the shorts of Laguna Negra by sunset - just in time to go up the Cerro de la Virgen for an incredible view! This region is home to one of the largest fresh water wildlife reserves in the country.

In the evening, enjoy a traditional asado dinner with the gauchos before retiring to bed. Your accommodation at Don Bosco is simple but the landscape is amazing.

Day 6 - Don Bosco - Valizas

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

After breakfast, your ride continues across palm forest towards the coast, stopping en-route for a picnic lunch. During the afternoon you continue riding along the beach towards the small town of Valizas where you stay in a typical Rancho Valicero - built as a summer home and turned into a small bed and breakfast. Single rooms are very limited here so depending on the size of the group, you may have to share bathrooms. Accommodation in alternative hotels may be available on request. Dinner will be taken at a local restaurant.

Day 7 - Cabo Polonio

Riding: 4 - 6 hours

You start the day with a morning walk to the Valizas stream where you cross on a boat to meet your horses on the other side of the shore. 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. Upon reaching the charming fishing village of Cabo Polonio, which can only be reached by horse, foot or 4WD, you stop for lunch at La Perla Seaside 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 towards the entrance to the village where your van will meet you to transfer you to your accommodation at Estancia Anastasio.

Day 8 - Countryside, Lagoon and Beach

Riding: 3 - 5 hours

Spend the morning riding across the estancia fields helping the gauchos to herd the cattle, vaccinate or do the daily chores. Finish your morning ride with a kayak tour of the Anastasio stream and a typical picnic lunch of local chivitos. During the afternoon you ride to the beach with amazing landscapes of the ocean combined with the lagoon. Weather permitting, tonights dinner is enjoyed under the stars!

Day 9 - Jose Ignacio - Montevideo

Riding: 3 hours

Your final ride takes you to the town of Jose Ignacio where you'll enjoy lunch before heading back to Montevideo. En-route you'll stop for an afternoon visit of Punta Del Este and the surrounding area, where you say a final goodbye to Uruguay with a visit to the incredible Casapueblo. You'll eventually arrive back in Montevideo around 6.30pm. Accommodation is not included this evening.

Accommodation

You stay in a mixture of local hotels and estancias - all are clean and comfortable with double/twin beds.

Experience Intermediate / Experienced

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.

Minimum group size 2
Maximum group size 8
Departure windows

Nov. 5, 2022 - Nov. 13, 2022

Nov. 26, 2022 - Dec. 4, 2022

March 4, 2023 - March 12, 2023

March 25, 2023 - April 2, 2023

Nov. 4, 2023 - Nov. 12, 2023

Nov. 25, 2023 - Dec. 3, 2023

Pricing

2022/2023
2-3 riders in the group; Sharing
£5100 $5690 €5805
2022/2023
4-8 riders in the group; Sharing
£4020 $4485 €4575
Included 8 nights accommodation in shared rooms, all meals and drinking water, 6 full days of riding and two half days, Montevideo transfers at set times.
Not included Flights, travel insurance, transfers outside of set times, drinks, tips & other personal expenses.

Extras

2022/2023 - Extra Horse Supplement £310 $350 €355
Paid to Far and Ride
Riders over 95kg will be asked to pay a supplement so that a second horse can be provided for them. This supplement will be charged on arrival if the rider is found to be over the weight limit.
2022/2023 - Single Supplement £530 $595 €605
Paid to Far and Ride
If you are willing to share and we find a sharer for you then we will refund this. There are limited single rooms available and theses will be offered on a first come, first served basis. Please note that single rooms aren't always guaranteed private bathrooms and on some nights you may have to share a bathroom.
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.