DAY 1: MONTEVIDEO
Arrival and transfer to Alma Historica Hotel located in the old town of Montevideo. After checking in, transfer to the lively Port Market to (Mercado del Puerto) and enjoy a typical Uruguayan parrilla at El Palenque Restaurant. After lunch, enjoy our suggested walking tour of the old city, which used to be surrounded by a wall to protect the first settlers of the capital. From the Port Market, we will walk to the Carnival Museum, where you will discover the Spanish tradition and African roots of the Uruguayan Carnival. You will learn about the murgas and candombe and if you are in Uruguay during carnival season, you could even participate in one of the tablados, candombe rehearsals or the Llamadas Parade! (More info below).
The tour continues onto the museum of pre-Columbian art (www.mapi.uy) and then onto the Constitution Square where you will visit the Cathedral and the Cabildo before arriving to the Torres Garcia Art Museum, one of the most renowned art schools in Uruguay. We will stop at the Puro Verso library (one of the oldest buildings in the area) for a quick coffee or fresh drink and then walk along the lovely pedestrian area to the Solis Theatre. After visiting the theatre, we will enjoy a typical uvita drink at Fun Fun, a traditional tanguería where the renowned Uruguayan tango singer Carlos Gardel would sing when he was in town.
The tour ends in the Independence Square where the Old Gate of the Old City is located just across from the statue of our national hero Jose Gervasio Artigas, which guards his mausoleum and where the iconic Palacio Salvo stands. Accommodation at Alma Historica Hotel (or similar). L.
DAY 2: MONTEVIDEO – CASAPUEBLO & PANORAMIC ROUTE 12 – BALCON DEL ABRA
After breakfast, your car will be delivered to your hotel in order to start your driving adventure with Neike! A
LARES representative will assist you and explain thoroughly how Neike works and provide you with your driving kit. Drive to the intriguing Casapueblo, a spectacularly-designed building created by the Uruguayan artist Carlos Páez Vilaró, facing south on a hillside over the Atlantic Ocean. After a visit to the museum, continue along the panoramic Route 12 to Alto de la Ballena winery, a small, family-run winery. The owners, Alvaro Lorenzo and his wife Paula Pivel, decided to turn their love of wine into a business in 1998. After tasting the Uruguayan tannat, continue driving along Route 12 to Pueblo Eden for a delicious traditional lunch. Hugo and Ines Herrero Nuñez, owners of La Posta de Vaimaca, will be your hosts. Enjoy homemade pasta or barbequed lamb underneath the house´s old fig tree. After lunch continue towards the province of Lavalleja. Dinner and accommodation at Estancia Balcon del Abra. B, L, D.
DAY 3: BALCON DEL ABRA
Spend a full day at this estancia dedicated to horse breeding and which is surrounded by the rolling hills of the Lavalleja province. Participate in one of the amazing activities the place has to offer: trekking to the nearby hills, a riding tour in the area or just relax at the natural biotop natural pool. Lunch, dinner and accommodation at Balcon del Abra. B, L, D
DAY 4: BALCON DEL ABRA – PANORAMIC ROUTE 109 – PUNTA DEL DIABLO
After breakfast, drive south-east along the winding and panoramic Route 109 towards the Province of Rocha. Arrival to the coast of Laguna Rocha to enjoy a delicious picnic lunch and canoeing in the lagoon. Enjoy hiking or biking towards La Paloma and La Pedrera and then continue your drive towards Punta del Diablo. Accommodtion at Posada La Viuda del Diablo. B, L.
DAY 5: GREEN HILL AREA & SANTA TERESA NATIONAL PARK
Drive to the Santa Teresa National Park guided by Neike!, and meet your local guide at the specified meeting point from where you will start a trek along the coast towards the Green Hill Protected Area. We will be looking for green turtles and dolphins (November to March). After a picnic lunch, we will walk over the hanging bridge of La Coronilla and visit the visitors´ centre of the local NGO Karumbé (which means “turtle” in the local Guaraní language), where a specialist will tell us about the different activities they are carrying out in the area. We will then drive to the Santa Teresa National Park to discover the Portuguese fortress and learn about the history of the area. Transfer to Punta del Diablo and accommodation at Posada La Viuda del Diablo. B,L.
DAY 6: THE FICUS FOREST, BLACK LAGOON AND PALM GROVES
Drive to Route 14 where Neike! will take you to the starting point of the adventure. You will meet your guide at the Trail of the Indians, entrance to Establecimiento Don Bosco and where we start to hike towards the Navarro Hill, down the ravine and across the Ficus Forest to the top of Cerro de la Virgen, from where we will appreciate the most amazing view of the massive Palm Groves of Rocha. There are numerous legends regarding the origins of the palm groves. Some 500 palm trees per hectare can be found in this Palm Grove considered the world’s largest and most fascinating one. We will trek down to the shores of the Black Lagoon also known as Laguna de los Difuntos (The Lagoon of the dead) due to its location near the indigenous graveyards or cerritos de indios. After enjoying our picnic lunch next to the lagoon shores, return to the Posada La Viuda del Diablo. B, L
DAY 7: A TRADITIONAL ESTANCIA
We wake up in Guardia Del Monte, a traditional estancia with outstanding landscape beauty and important ecosystems containing a great variety of birds and native trees. We will enjoy some quality birdwatching 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). After a typical asado lunch we will enjoy some horseback riding to explore the estancia surroundings. Dinner and accommodation at Guardia del Monte (Please note that depending on the season, we might stay at Guardia del Monte or Charabon Estancia and the available activities will be adapted to the area). B, L, D
DAY 8: TREKKING FROM VALIZAS TO CABO POLONIO, INCREDIBLE SAND DUNES AND SEA LIONS
After breakfast, drive to the entrance of Cabo Polonio where Neike! will guide you to the meeting point with your local guide. After parking the car in the visitors center, your guide will drive you to the small village of Barra de Valizas to start the trek along the coastline and across the incredible shifting sand dunes. After a short walk around the town, we will trek up the Buena Vista Hill from where a fantastic view of the ocean can be appreciated and continue down towards Cabo Polonio (4 hours trek). After a delicious seafood lunch at a local seaside restaurant, we will visit the lighthouse and sea lions reserve (one of the biggest ones in the world!). In the afternoon a 4×4 truck drive towards the main entrance of Cabo Polonio. Continue your drive to the small secret town of Garzon. Dinner and accommodation a Casa Anna. B, L, D
DAY 9: COLINAS DE GARZON, A TALE OF OLIVES AND VINEYARDS, THE “URUGUAYAN TUSCANY”
After breakfast, drive to Colinas de Garzon, where the best olive oil of Uruguay is produced. For those who enjoy the taste of new experiences, spectacular views, top quality wines and olive oils, this will be a wonderful visit. You will be able to learn all the secrets of the extra virgin olive oil and explore the olive plantations and Boutique Production Plant. It is an invitation to discover the origins of this product and its elaboration process. You will then enjoy a tasting of the fine wines and olive oils of Colinas de Garzon, served with selected home-made cheeses. Between the months of March and June, guests can also learn to and participate in the harvest. Drive back to Pueblo Garzon for some quality time to rest and explore the town where time seems to have stood still for some decades. Villagers peacefully drink mate without the hurries of modern life while the neighbour next door feeds her horse and the local grocery store sells gas in canisters. During the evening, you will have the opportunity to visit one of the local wonderful restaurants. Accommodation at Casa Anna. B, L.
DAY 10: THE ATCHUGARRY FOUNDATION AND AGUA VERDE WINERY & SPA
Early in the morning, Neike! will guide you to the Atchugarry Foundation located in Manantiales, a nonprofit institution created in 2007 by the sculptor Pablo Atchugarry with the intention of promoting the arts and to create a meeting place for artists of all disciplines, a place that combine nature and art. After the visit, continue driving to Agua Verde winery. Here is where the vineyards seem to flow from the main house and pool. You will be surrounded by the natural beauty of the landscape. You will be enchanted by the surroundings with many streams and hills of different shades. In Agua Verde the grapes are grown and harvested 100% by hand during the night when the temperatures are cooler and it is also when the sugar levels in the grapes are more stable, the quality and acid levels are better. Enjoy a unique farm to table style brunch under the trees and overlooking the vineyards. The chef will prepare a special meal using the freshest locally farmed ingredients. The pleasure of using free range and organic produce allows one to experience what these products are really meant to taste like. After a wine tasting, continue driving towards the towns of La Barra and Manantiales, two charming jewels of the Uruguayan coast. Neike! will guide you around if you wish to visit small stores and boutiques or enjoy a coffee at one of the local bakeries and bars. Drive to the town of Jose Ignacio. Accommodation at Posada del Faro. B, L.
DAY 11: JOSE IGNACIO
Enjoy a day at leisure to relax in this amazing small town. Neike! will give you all the tips on the area! Accommodation at Posada del Faro. B