Estancias self drive tour

About the tour

This trip is the perfect option for those wishing to explore Uruguay in their own vehicle, with most of it being self-driven. Start the trip in Colonia Del Sacramento, discover the old town of Montevideo, hike in the National Park of Quebrada de los Cuervos (Crows’ Ravine), stay at typical estancias, trek to the Natural Reserve of Cabo Polonio to visit one of the biggest reserves of sea lions in the world and combine the whole trip with characteristic accommodations!

Itinerary

DAY 1: BUENOS AIRES – COLONIA – FINCA PIEDRA (SAN JOSE PROVINCE)

Arrival to “Colonia Del Sacramento” where a LARES guide will assist you with the car rental pick-up (Cat E – Hyundai Accent or similar); a complete map of Uruguay will be provided together with the necessary directions to arrive to each one of the estancias/ haciendas included in the itinerary. Self-drive to Finca Piedra Farm located in the region of San José (80 min. drive) where guests will be expected with a delicious lunch and will spend a first day in the Uruguayan countryside. The Estancia invites to hike, discover the own vineyards, take a bike ride across the fields, relax at the pool or enjoy an afternoon riding. Dinner and accommodation at Estancia Finca Piedra. L, D

DAY 2: FINCA PIEDRA – MONTEVIDEO

Continue trip to Montevideo (1.5hs drive) where you will be expected for lunch at the lively Port Market. During an afternoon walking city tour, you can discover the highlights of the ancient city center of Montevideo. Moreover, you will visit several art museums and the famous Solis theatre. Accommodation at My Suites Hotel w/ breakfast included. B,L

DAY 3: MONTEVIDEO – PROVINCE OF TREINTA Y TRES  

Drive to the Province of Treinta y Tres where guests will stay at “Estancia Pinos de la Quebrada” or “Estancia Los Platanos”. Lunch and afternoon rural activities; guests will be able to participate in the daily activities of the rural life and learn about the gaucho culture, the countryside style of life and its traditions. Dinner and accommodation at the estancia with full board included. B, L, D

DAY 4: THE LIFE OF A WORKING ESTANCIA

Enjoy the simple things of the everyday rural life by participating in the daily activities of the estancia working alongside the gauchos and their trusty. The work varies depending on the time of the year, but the wonderful, friendly gauchos with their berets, ‘bombachas’ (riding trousers) and with their knives tucked into their colorful belts, always welcome a bit of help checking and moving the stock or putting animals in the corrals; they all seem to have been born on a horse and it is a delight to be riding with them! Full board included. Accommodation at the estancia. B, L, D.

DAY 5: QUEBRADA DE LOS CUERVOS NATIONAL PARK

Early drive to the National Park of Quebrada de los Cuervos where guests will spend the day trekking down the fantastic gorge that is formed at the junctions of the “Yerbal Stream” and “Olimar River” (a local guide can be coordinated with anticipation and extra cost). A lot of wildlife can be seen in the area which is also great for bird watching! The estancia will prepare a nice picnic for guests so they can spend the day exploring. Afternoon drive down Route 8 towards Mariscala, where guests will enjoy dinner and relax at Posada de Campo Balcon del Abra. B, L,D.

DAY 6: ESTANCIA BALCON DEL ABRA   

Today, guests will spend a full day at this estancia dedicated to the breeding of horses and which is surrounded by the rolling hills of the Lavalleja Province. Guests can organize some trekking to the nearby hills, a riding tour to the nearby estancia (extra cost) or just relax at the natural BIOTOP pool. Dinner and accommodation at “Balcon del Abra”. B, L, D

DAY 7: ESTANCIA BALCON DEL ABRA – ESTANCIA GUARDIA DEL MONTE

After breakfast, drive south-east along the winding and panoramic Route 109 towards the Province of Rocha. Guests will enjoy wonderful landscape! Arrival to Estancia Guardia del Monte where a delicious lunch will be waiting! Guardia del Monte is a traditional estancia with outstanding landscape beauty and important ecosystems containing a great variety of birds and native scrublands. We will enjoy some quality bird watching along the large area of marshlands and wetlands both of which are teeming with bird life (more than 400 species in this area), otters, coypus and capybaras.

We will be able to spot the graceful black-necked swan (largest populations in the world found here), the rare white goose, the pink flamingo (a species of flamingo with very bright pink pigment and quite common in Uruguay) and many ducks and other birds such as the largest bird in South America – the ‘ostrich-like’ “ñandú” (American rhea). Dinner and accommodation at Estancia Guardia del Monte. B, L, D.

DAY 8: TREKKING EXPEDITION FROM VALIZAS TO CABO POLONIO ACREOSS SHIFTING SAND DUNES

After breakfast, drive to Valizas town where a local guide will be waiting to start an unforgettable tour to “Cabo Polonio” Village. After a short walk around the town, we will start the trekking along the coastline that will take us towards the incredible shifting sand dunes (one of the biggest ones in the world). We will trek up the “Buena Vista Hill” from where a fantastic view of the ocean can be appreciated, to continue down towards Cabo Polonio (4 hours trek). After a delicious seafood lunch at a local seaside restaurant, we will visit the light house and sea lions reserve. Afternoon 4×4 truck- drive towards the main entrance of Cabo Polonio where a private transfer will drive guests back to Valizas to pick up their car. Drive back to Estancia Guardia del Monte for dinner and accommodation. B, L, D.

DAY 9: RETURN

After breakfast, drive back to Montevideo Airport.

On day 9, famous beach resorts Punta del Este and Jose Ignacio can easily be visited on the way back to Montevideo or a beach extension in the Punta del Este/Jose Ignacio  area or Rocha Province for several nights can perfectly be added!

Most recommended travel time: October to March

Accommodation

Finca Piedra - Uruguay

Finca Piedra – San Jose (Day 1)

Hotel My Suites - Montevideo

Hotel My Suites – Montevideo (Day 2)

Estancia Pinos de la Quebrada - Treinta y Tres

Estancia Pinos de la Quebrada – Treinta y Tres (Day 3-4)

Estancia Balcon del Abra - Lavalleja

Estancia Balcon del Abra – Lavalleja (Day 5-6)

Estancia Guardia del Monte - Rocha

Estancia Guardia del Monte – Rocha (Day 7-8)

Canoe crossing of the Rocha Lagoon

About the tour

This tour will take you along the coast and you will explore the nature surrounding Rocha and its lagoon. A canoe adventure that will take you across this beautiful lagoon full of birds, local wildlife and native vegetation. There is also a biking adventure in store for you. Once you cross the lagoon, bikes will be waiting for you to ride to the village of La Paloma with its beautiful lighthouse. This tour is great choice for nature and canoeing lovers!

Itinerary

DAY 1 – CROSSING THE “EASTERN BIOSPHERE RESERVE” ON A CANOE

Whether you are in the area of Punta del Este, Jose Ignacio or Montevideo, a transfer will pick you up at your hotel and drive you towards the Garzon Lagoon, the natural limit between the provinces of Maldonado and Rocha. This unique protected natural area is part of what we call the wetlands of the “Eastern Biosphere Reserve” internationally recognized within the framework of the Man and the Biosphere (Man and the Biosphere, MAB) of UNESCO since 1976. After crossing on the charming “Balsa”, will continue onto the Rocha Lagoon, a semi-freshwater lagoon of 72 km2 (28 sq. mi).

This lagoon, located only 25 minutes from Jose Ignacio Village, has an outlet to the sea during winter months and constitutes a bird paradise with 220 species which have been recorded like migratory waders, Flamingos, Swans, Herons and ducks among others.

A Lares guide will be waiting for us to board on a canoe adventure that will take us across this beautiful lagoon full of birds, local wildlife and native vegetation! We will be able to see various bird species, local wildlife and native vegetation and once on the other side, our bikes will be waiting for us to ride to the village of La Paloma with its beautiful lighthouse where we will make a stop to enjoy a picnic lunch.

We will then continue onto Pueblo Barrancas Eco Lodge to spend a peaceful night close to the Atlantic Ocean.

DAY 2 – RETURN

After breakfast, we can coordinate a transfer to your next destination (not included) or add some extra nights at this beautiful lodge.

IMPORTANT NOTE:

– Please note that in an effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, we have arranged your luggage and belongings to be transferred across the lagoon on a canoe specially dedicated to this task. This will help us avoid unnecessary vehicle transfers, saving at least 170 km of CO2 emissions. (Tourism, as other sectors too, contributes to global emissions. According to the UNWTO-UNEP study (2008) tourism contributes around 5% to global CO2 emissions and 75% of the sector’s emissions are generated by transportation).If necessary, we can coordinate a transfer for your luggage but we will charge an extra 5% (equal to the 5% contribution of tourism to global CO2 emissions) to the usual cost of this which will be 100% donated to Karumbe, the local NGO working on marine life conservation. Moreover, Lares, will donate another equal 5% to the same cause.

– This tour can also start with the biking adventure from Jose Ignacio or organized as a day tour without staying at the lodge in Rocha.

Accommodation
 9 Pueblo Barrancas

Pueblo Barrancas – La Pedrera, Rocha (Day 1)

Trekking adventure from Valizas seaside town to the village of Cabo Polonio

About the tour

Trek across the incredible sand dunes that maintains the village of Cabo Polonio isolated from the other nearby towns.

The lovely village of Barra de Valizas is the perfect strating point to reach the shifting sand dunes along the Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy trekking accross the dunes and along the shore, explore the flora of this special region and learn about the more than 200 species of colourful birds that guide your way to Cabo Polonio. The unique fishing village at the cape will be reached after four hours trekking. Colorfully painted houses, cozy beach restaurants and a stunning lighthouse await you as well as thousands of sea lions. Head to a charming small posada in the area on 4×4 Jeeps to spend the night before you head to your next adventure!

Itinerary

Day 1 – The most amazing view of the Atlantic Ocean from the “Cerro Buena Vista” on top of the sand dunes

A local English speaking guide from Lares will pick you up at La Paloma, La Pedrera or one of the nearby coastal towns and drive you to the coastal village of Valizas. After a short walk around the town, we will start an marvelous 4 hour trek across the amazing shifting sand dunes of Cabo Polonio. Once at the top of the “Buena Vista Hill”, you will enjoy a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean before descending to the shore for a relaxing coastal hike to the small fishing village. Climb the lighthouse, watch one of the largest sea lion colonies of South America and enjoy a delicious seafood lunch overlooking the ocean. Afternoon 4-wheel-truck drive out of the natural reserve to Posada Valizas, a small charming Posada in one of the friendliest towns in the coast! L.

Day 2- Return

After breakfast, we can coordinate a transfer to your next destination (not included) or add some extra nights at this beautiful posada. B.

Accommodation

Posada Valizas - Rocha

Posada Valizas – Rocha (Day 1)

Canoe journey along the Queguay river

About the tour

The Indians who inhabited these lands gave the river its actual name; in the local Guarani language, “Queguay” means “place where dreams converge” and the area where our journey takes place is, in fact, where the “Queguay Grande” and “Queguay Chico” rivers converge.

With some 300 km of course, the “Queguay” River is one of the only ones that remain untouched and part of the area denominated “Montes del Queguay” which is already in the National Protected Areas System. Nature lovers prefer it for its rich biodiversity, and because its course is the largest continuous area of native forest to be found in Uruguay!

Itinerary

DAY 1 – GUICHON, A SMALL QUIET TOWN WHERE THE ADVENTURE STARTS

Arrival to the small town of Guichón, where we will meet tour local guides who will drive us to the “Queguay River”. The canoes are waiting for us to start the adventure! We will soon discover it is a stream with cliffs on both sides, virtually no sandy shores, with several curves and a unique and exuberant native forest surrounding it. Very tall trees bend over the river and in some areas even block the water course making the journey difficult but more adventurous. During the late afternoon, after an exhausting paddling day, we will find a place to camp. The typical “asado” will be cooked and organized by the guides together with a big fire, locally called “fogón” and we will celebrate the first expedition day with a good tannat wine. L, D.

DAY 2 – CANOE ADVENTURE IN THE MIDDLE OF NATURE

After breakfast, we will continue our journey along the river and as we move along, the challenge increases: the river sometimes narrows and winding curves appear increasing speed and making it more demanding to maneuver quickly and efficiently. After a morning full of fun and adventure, we stop for a picnic lunch while appreciating the beauty of the surrounding nature and the crystal clear water that can even be drank. After some fishing (to assure our dinner), we continue until our next camping spot! B, L, D.

DAY 3 – END OF THE JOURNEY

After breakfast, we continue the last portion of our canoe journey, still with no signs of civilization; we can only hear the birds singing and the river flowing. Canoeing is an experience in which you are in constant contact with nature; the canoe glides over water at an adequate speed to enjoy the river vegetation. Even though the trip can be tough at times, your adrenaline increases as there are several rapids where the water flows more strongly making you feel the adventure. Everything is under control with the company of our experienced local guides. After arriving to our destination, you will be transferred back to the town of Guichón to board the local bus to your next destination. B, L.

Please note we have different canoe adventure levels that can be adjusted to clients’ needs and interests.