Español
  Inns & Ranches  |  Specialized Tours  |  About Uruguay  |  About Lares    
  |  Home  |  Print    
 
Nature & Culture
Uruguay, a journey through the land of the Gaucho, fresh water and colorful birds
 

 THE COUNTRY:  " A cultural adventure for nature lovers"

Uruguay is a virtually unexplored destination for traditional tourism. This small and peaceful country offers nature lovers an amazing variety of ecosystems mainly concentrated in the “Bañados Del Este” Biosphere Reserve (UNESCO). A unique place where, within short distances we can find: wetlands, hills, native forest, palm groves, sandy and rocky beaches, rivers, coastal lagoons and savannahs, all filled with an enormous diversity of birds – more than 400 species- and other wildlife like the endangered capybara, pampas deer, sea turtle and franca whale among others, which coexist in harmony with the cattle, sheep and horses that populate the vast pampas. The country occupies the sixth position in the Environmental Sustainability World Index 2002.

Situated on the undefined frontier between the Spanish and Portuguese empires, it has always been a region of passing influences; thus the hospitable character of its people. First conquerors and then the immigrants, who arrived from Europe in large waves during the first half of the last century, have enriched the native traditions, forging a very particular cultural identity different from the majority of Latin American countries.  Indigenous remains, fortresses of the Colonial period and traces of the gaucho's life have combined with a rich urban architectural heritage.

Uruguay has the highest literacy rate in the continent - 97% - and the majority of the population has completed secondary, technological or university studies.  Commonly called “the Switzerland of America” this republic, proud of its almost 200 years of democracy is one of the safest countries in the world


URUGUAY - NATURE & CULTURE – 10 days 

Dates

Lenght

Tour cost *Double
occupancy

Optional single
supplement

Group size

South Spring season: October - December 

South autumn season: February - April

9 nights / 10 days

 

U$S 2.400

 

+300

min 6

max 16

*Included
All accommodations; all meals; water; land transportation; hotel & restaurant tips; grooms and guide services.

*Not Included
Airfares, airport taxes; items of a personal nature (souvenirs, phone calls, etc.); drinks and medical insurance.

 Extensions in Uruguay (Montevideo - Punta del Este) , Argentina (Buenos Aires - Iguaçu Falls ...) and Brazil are easily arranged.

 
 
TOUR OUTLINE
 

Blanketed by Wetlands, native forest, coastal lagoons, palm groves and sandy and rocky beaches, you will be able to feel connected with the traditions of this unexplored country. On this leisurely walk we'll skirt the most diverse landscapes and experience the hidden treasures found on paths less travelled.


Visit historic Ranches, enjoy breathtaking landscapes, and get to know the people who have lived here for generations.
 

This tour has been especially designed for people who love to learn and experience nature, cultures and traditional meals without sacrificing comfort. 

It has native guides and scientists, who, along with the local people, will help each visitor, experience the wonders of this country, immersed in a safe, friendly and natural environment.



IMPORTANT NOTES
Lares terms & conditions apply.
A booking is confirmed only upon receipt of the corresponding deposit.
We reserve the right to alter the itinerary due to circumstances beyond our control.
Appropriate medical insurance is mandatory and the responsibility of each guest/booking agent.
Guests will be required to sign a responsibility release before starting a tour.
Guests comments and pictures may be use for promotion.


DAY BY ITINERARY:
Pre/post tour extensions in Montevideo, Punta del Este, Buenos Aires/Argentina & Brazil available. Please ask for details.


Day 1:  Montevideo, the capital city & Tango  

Guests are met at the Carrasco International Airport by a bilingual guide and driven along the wonderful coast line called “Rambla” to the Balmoral Hotel. We will immerse ourselves in Uruguayan culture in Montevideo, the most important city as well as the capital. In the evening, we will experience the typical Rio de la Plata music, the tango or Candombe with the typical rhythms and typical coloured costumes while we have the welcome dinner. L, D.


Day 2: Mercado del Puerto, walking tour through the Old City & Punta Del Este


 
After breakfast, we will enjoy a city tour through Montevideo.  We will visit antique shops, go through the city visiting the most important historical and cultural sites like the “Legislativo Palace”, the “Carriage Monument” and the different neighbourhoods like Carrasco, Punta Gorda, Pocitos and Punta Carretas with their historic anecdotes and different characteristics, we will also visit and walk through the downtown city’s streets and have lunch at the famous “Mercado Del Puerto”. We will then depart to Punta Del Este, the beach resort for the more elite South Americans. Argentineans come across the wide ‘Rio de la Plata’ estuary to sun themselves here. We will make a stop in Piriápolis, where we will enjoy the lovely “Rambla” along the coast and go up the “San Antonio Hill” from where we will have the chance to take some pictures of the incredible view. This European style summer resort was founded by the visionary Francisco Piria during the last century. We will then continue our trip to the famous “Casapueblo” in Punta Ballena, our last stop before reaching Punta Del Este, where we will visit the Museum of Carlos Páez Vilaró, Uruguayan painter and creator of Casapueblo. We will then continue our trip to Punta Del Este where we will sleep at one of the charming Inns at “La Barra de Maldonado” (or similar). CB, L, D

Day 3: Guardia del Monte, the Ombúes & La Pedrera (horse riding, birding & fishing)


After breakfast we will be driven east along a panoramic road into Rocha, arguably the most beautiful province in Uruguay with its pristine beaches, emerald shores and network of lagoons.  

Our first visit will be “Guardia Del Monte”, a small charming working ranch on the shores of “Laguna de Castillos". We will have the opportunity to visit the forest of Ombúes. The Ombú curiously rarely grows in groups of more than 2 or 3; the forest of Ombúes that we visit is possibly the only one in the world. Each tree has its own wonderful shape with thick, twisting roots spreading out over the ground; some are over 500 years and have a diameter of 2 meters (6 feet).

In the afternoon, we will be driven to La Pedrera, a tiny coastal village, part of a chain of bays with sandy beaches and rocky capes.

Our hotel here overlooks the ocean and is equipped with a heated swimming pool. During the evening we will enjoy a typical dinner with a traditional folk show. CB, L, D.


Day 4: Cabo Polonio & the Sea Lions Natural Reserve (walking, ocean swimming)


Today we will visit “Cabo Polonio”, named after a Spanish galleon that went down just off the point. Luckily ‘Beagle’ with Charles Darwin aboard did not succumb to this fate and Darwin spent quite some time in Uruguay collecting species and most likely starting to formulate his theories of evolution. This charming fishing village can only be reached by horse or four wheeled drive and the fascinating part of this visit is the huge area of shifting sand dunes; as we drive through it is possible to imagine that we are right in the middle of the Sahara. Arriving at the ocean, we will see sea lions that populate the small islands and make up one of the largest populations in the world; very occasionally we spot a migrating Franca Whale. After a fresh fish lunch at the sea side restaurant, most likely (but this will depend on tides and water levels and will be decided on the day) there is a boat ride along the river joining ‘Laguna de Castillos’ to the sea and visiting the largest Ombú forest of South America. After this ride full of surprises and diverse scenery, we spend the night in the town of “La Coronilla”, where we will have a delicious dinner, Uruguayan wine and a pleasant overnight listening to the waves CB, L, D.


Day 5:  Santa Teresa national park, Don Bosco palm groves & Black lagoon (walking and optional short hiking)




 

Today we will visit the immense Santa Teresa National Park. The centre piece of the park is a fort started in 1762 by the Portuguese to defend the edge of their territories then completed by the Spaniards who took it by assault just a year later. This was just the start of a succession of conquering, loosing and reconquering the fort; it was not until 1825 that the newly forming ‘Uruguay’ finally captured and held the fort.

The fort is surrounded by 3000 hectares of forest containing over 2 million trees the majority from other parts of the world. We will be driven along a very scenic road near to the famous " Laguna Negra"  - ‘black lake’ where we will have a traditional pic-nic on its shores and visit the Don Bosco hills from where we will be able to enjoy an incredible view of the unique extensive palm groves. Despite a number of stories, no one knows how the palm trees got here -some 300 years old; they are not native but they give the landscape a very exotic look. During the trip we will pass many roadside stalls selling the fruit and the less innocent ‘hooch’ brewed from the palm nuts. The cloudy, sticky liquid is so potent that if you leave the cap off the old bottles it is sold in the liquor evaporates in a flash! We will walk along the “Path of the Indian” where we will surely see ibis, herons, egrets, storks and a legion of migrating birds (birds arrive here from as far as Alaska and the Falkland Islands). During the late afternoon, we will drive to the “Fortín de San Miguel”. Once inside the imposing walls of the hotel guests will appreciate the comfortable rooms and enjoy the delicious food, a distant cry from the austere life in the fortress! Overnight at  Fortín de san Miguel. AB, L, D.


Day 6: 18th century Fort of San Miguel – Brazilian border (walking, golf)


After having breakfast in this hotel built in the same stone as the nearby Portuguese fortress, after breakfast, we will drive a short way to ‘Chuy’, a very curious town straddling the border where guests can step into Brazil and hear the locals speak a strange language made of a mix of Spanish and Portuguese. After lunch we will be able to admire the views out across an enormous stretch of fresh water - one of the largest fresh water reserves of South America, the "Merín Lagoon". We are right on the Brazilian border. After lunch, we will make an archeological visit to observe the “Cerritos de Indios”, the National Park of San Miguel which surrounds the fort and constitutes a very important natural reserve and to the “Picudo Hill” from where we will be able to enjoy a great panoramic view of the area. The view across the flat lowlands and the huge lagoon provides a very special landscape very difficult to describe. We can smell the sea and on clear days view the coast. This area is home to a wide variety of birds and we will see many different native trees and bushes. Guests can visit the pink granite fortress built in 1734 by the Spaniards, rebuilt after its destruction by the Portuguese in 1737. We will also have the chance to see the Cimarron cattle – the first cattle, introduced from Spain in the 17th century and depending on what the gauchos are doing, they may need a hand to work these tame animals. We will stay at the “Fortín de San Miguel", guests can enjoy the gardens and visit the ‘Pulpería’ - the traditional meeting point for the gauchos from miles around. Overnight at El Fortín de San Miguel. AB, L, D

Day 7: Salamanca grottoes, Minas & Florida province




 
After breakfast we will be driven north-east along a panoramic road through the province of “Lavalleja” and into the State of Florida, the most traditional cattle breeding area of the country. We will stop at the “Salamanca grottoes” an amazing place and have lunch on the charming city of Minas. Then we will get to the town of Cerro Colorado, where we will find San Pedro de Timote, considered on of the first estancias founded in Uruguay (estancias are like colonial haciendas). The original colonial main building has been declared a National Historical Monument and guests can still see features that are a reminder of the age of the estancia: the church, towers and wonderful terraces decorated with Spanish majolica. This handsome period house has been totally refurbished to represent the most elegant colonial era in the country. The delicious meals are based on the traditional Uruguayan cuisine. During dinner, guests can get acquainted with one of Uruguay’s best kept secrets: the excellent wines. Overnight at the estancia – swimming pools, sauna & Jacuzzi.  AB, L, D
 

Day 8: San Pedro de Timote - the ‘prairies’ of the oldest estancia (horse riding, walking, bike riding)




 

In the morning we will set out in a horse ride (or carriage stroll) across the estancia fields, through eucalyptus forests and onto the typical ‘prairies’ of central Uruguay. The estancia once covered an area of 30 000 hectares (66 000acres) but is now 2600 hectares (5750 acres). There is a big chance of seeing some of the typical wildlife likely to the capybara (largest rodent in the world and very cute!), armadillos and the rare marsh deer and other wildlife if we join the nocturnal outing from the estancia after tea time. During the afternoon, guests will have the opportunity to explore the estancia ride horses  or relax in the pools or Jacuzzi. Optional nocturnal animal watch. Overnight at San Pedro. AB, L, D.


Day 9: Colonia del Sacramento, where history whispers.

We start our day with an early drive to the historical city of “Colonia Del Sacramento”, declared World Heritage by the UNESCO. This romantic city is the only one founded by the Portuguese in the coasts of the “Rio de la Plata”, during the times of the battles for the frontiers between the Spanish and Portuguese Crowns, who wanted to expand their territories. As a consequence, “Colonia Del Sacramento” has been, from the very beginning, a place of battles and conflicts. The city changed its nationality many times during the past. Because of the above mentioned, many different architectonic styles can be found along the small city form both Spanish and Portuguese influence.

In the past, “Colonia Del Sacramento” was surrounded by a tall stone wall built in the same time as the entrance, the moat and the bridge. During the early afternoon we will enjoy an interesting guided walking tour around the city. We will also visit the “Real de San Carlos” and enjoy the panoramic view of the “Rio de la Plata” that separates Uruguay from Argentina (a few kilometers away). Overnight at the charming Plaza Mayor Hotel, a typical small hotel in the old part of the city where the original walls built during the 19th Century are still preserved. We will enjoy dinner at one of the traditional restaurants in the area. AB, L, D.


Day 9:  Return

Free time to explore the old city. Alter lunch, guests will be driven to the port to take the ferry to Buenos Aires or driven to Montevideo.


F.A.Q.

Guides: Depending on the group size, this tour is lead by one or two local English speaking and experienced guides who are knowledgeable of the region. Our guests will enjoy both the natural environment and the affection and professionalism of our guides.

Special guides: Along the way, local specialists will give us some conferences and/or share fieldtrips, in order to improve our understanding of Uruguayan history and the typical ecosystems.

Accommodations: The accommodations provided in this program include the most interesting hotels or lodges available in the areas we visit, all of which include private bathroom and are clean, comfortable, and very attractive. You will be able to get good night’s sleep in pleasant surroundings. If you are sharing you room, please let us know in advance if you prefer twin or double beds.

Natural Meals: After a full day of immersing yourself in our natural sights, it is comforting to know that you can return to fully prepared meals that reflect the local cuisine. All meals are prepared with completely natural and fresh products of the region.

Shows and cross cultural activities: In Montevideo we will participate in a tango show and along the way we will enjoy different shows of local folklore.

Climate: The weather in Uruguay is variable, but you can expect somewhat warm spring and autumn temperatures, although we might also get some cool days (especially early in the morning or at night) and perhaps some rainy days. The average temperature at this time of year is 65 F, average lows are 54 F, and average highs are 74 F.

Clothes and Equipment: Clothes and equipment should be light to accommodate for out-door activities. A warm coat, jacket or sweater, hat, raincoat and, also, bathing suit and rubber boots for the eventuality of rainy days are recommended. Don’t forget to bring your camera and binoculars.

Land Transportation: Transfers from site to site, field trips and excursions will be by private, air- conditioned/heated motor coach with a restroom on board. Distances within Uruguay are not great and the longest bus ride between sites takes three hours. We will play some videos on the way, but if you enjoy reading we recommend bringing a good book.

Free Time: Special care has been taken to provide enough free time to rest and to do independent activities. If you like to fish, there will be several opportunities throughout the tour.

Health services: In general, public sanitation and health care in Uruguay are very good. In the event of illness or accident during your stay, you should be prepared to pay for assistance. Upon return home you can submit a claim for reimbursement according to the specifications of your insurance policy. Visa and Master card are credit cards commonly accepted.

Safety: Although Montevideo is a safe city, we will have to take some precautions. The places we will be visiting in the countryside completely safe.

Contact us: info@lares.com.uy


by sublimesolutions.com
Phone: (00598-2) 901 9120 - Celular Phone: (00598) 99 592009 - Uruguay
Copyright © 2002 Lares.com.uy - All Rights Reserved