The Serene Shores of Uruguay Tour
Sandwiched between Argentina and Brazil – the giants of South America -Uruguay is a diminutive country with a big heart. The people here are known for their tolerance and warmth, and the country’s laid-back seaside towns, temperate climate and serene countryside make it a beautifully restful place to visit.
- Wander the picturesque cobbled streets of the UNESCO protected town of Colonia del Sacramento
- Discover the history, architecture and markets of Uruguay’s capital city
- Get a behind-the-scenes view of Montevideo by visiting dynamic social projects and meeting local people
- Relax in the beautiful coastal region of Rocha close to the Brazilian border
- Take a boat ride through Rocha Nature Reserve to discover native wildlife
- Visit the fascinating seaside town of Cabo Polonio where there are no roads or electricity
- Explore the countryside on horseback and enjoy an organic lunch alfresco in the Rocha hills
This is a private tour and you will be accompanied by an English-speaking local guide throughout. The price displayed is per person based on two people sharing. All tours can be tailor-made to suit your interests and requirements.
Uruguay might be less well known than its more showy neighbours, but none the less it has many interesting places to explore. It also has a much calmer past than many South American countries, with their turbulent and often bloody histories. Instead Uruguay is a peaceful and tolerant country with welcoming people. A tranquil rural life is the norm here and its people enjoy long afternoon asados (BBQs) and the good things in life.
Due to its diminutive size, the distances between its peaceful towns and many nature reserves are short, making it very easy to travel through. This Uruguay tour begins in the colonial town of Colonia del Sacramento, just across the wide Rio Plata River from Buenos Aires. The town’s well preserved buildings and mellow cobbled streets are perfect for wandering through, and it has a great concentration of history, art and culture.
From there you’ll move along the coast to Montevideo, the capital city of the country, with its grand avenues and busy markets. You’ll spend several days here exploring the city, visiting different social and community projects and getting to know the local people and their way of life.
Then it’s on to Rocha in the South East of the country, on the border with Brazil. This region has many lovely nature reserves to explore and a tranquil countryside made up of lagoons, beaches, low hills and sandy dunes. All over the area you can taste the famous asado, great wines and, particularly in Rocha, delicious seafood.
Day 1: Colonia del Sacramento (-/-/-)
You’ll be welcomed at the river boat terminal in Colonia del Sacramento and shown to your comfortable B&B. Colonia is a small town with a lovely laidback pace and picturesque streets. In the afternoon you’ll take a private walking tour in the historic quarter, during which you’ll learn about the town’s history, visit the light house and trace the ancient city walls, taking in the atmosphere and visiting museums and arts and crafts boutiques. The evening is free for you to enjoy an alfresco meal in one of the many restaurants of the old town.
Day 2: Colonia to Montevideo (B/-/-)
After breakfast you will check out and transfer to Montevideo by bus (approx 2.5 hours). You’ll be met on arrival and driven to your hotel in central Montevideo. The rest of the day is free for you to explore the city, perhaps heading to the lively central market for lunch, or strolling through the city’s wide avenues stopping for coffee or a glass of wine along the way.
Day 3: Montevideo (B/-/-)
On this trail you will visit all the main attractions of this neighbourhood, involving architectural manifestations and monuments that represent Montevideo’s history. You will get to visit MUJEFA, an old house recovered by the Head of the household Moms cooperative, also visit and meet the social work done by Maciel hospital and the Vieja Telita Cultural centre, space on which music instruments are built from recycled material.
Old City is an historical centre of Montevideo. It is also a port, financial institutions point, many companies are found here, ministries and also residences of a very small but ingrained population. It has a big variety of historic, architectural and cultural heritage. Nowadays the neighbourhood is in a revaluation process, stands as a spot for gastronomy, entertainment and culture. This trail invites you to go around town and discover from the inside how Montevideo’s people organize and live on social entrepreneurship and to have a better understanding of how their lives developed from the past history and up to the present moment.
Day 4: Montevideo (B/-/-)
The Community touristic network of Barrio Sur and Palermo, Montevideo offers the possibility of knowing from the perspective of its inhabitants. These two neighbourhoods of high equity value are the house of one of the most important cultural expressions of Uruguay: the candombe. This drum based music is an artistic manifestation practiced historically by afro descendant communities in Montevideo. It can only be met and understood from a real close up to its main characters. This tour proposes to know the reality lived by the afro-montevidean community “from the inside” by visiting people and associations that -thanks to their strength- are keeping the traditions alive.
Day 5: Montevideo to Rocha - La Paloma (B/L/-)
After breakfast you will be met at your hotel for the journey to Rocha district (approx 4hrs) where you’ll check in at your B&B in La Paloma town, on the sea coast. Lunch will be fresh fish from the lake prepared for you by the local fishermen and their wives. In the afternoon, enjoy a private excursion to Laguna de Rocha Natural Reserve and you’ll be taking a boat trip across Rocha Lake. Then you’ll visit Las Cárcavas Milenarias de Punta Rubia a striking geological formation created thousands of years ago. The evening is free for you to enjoy the ocean breeze and dinner at one of the seafood restaurants in the village.
Day 6: La Paloma - Cabo Polonio (B/L/-)
After breakfast you will be picked up for a private excursion to Cabo Polonio, an isolated village amongst a protected area of dunes and national park. Cabo Polonio is a charming fishing village which can only be reached by foot, horse or special four wheeled drive. It is the largest biosphere reserve in the country with endless oceanic white sandy beaches. Several sea lions populate the small islands, making up one of the biggest reserves in the world; very occasionally we spot a migrating Franca Whale. Another of its attractions is the Lighthouse, built in 1881; the place was declared National Park in 2009. After crossing on boat the Valizas stream, the tour starts with a trekking towards the incredible mobile sand dunes until the “Buena Vista Hill” is reached and a fantastic view of the ocean can be appreciated, continue to Cabo Polonio (4 hours walk). Enjoy lunch (included) at one of the small restaurants where local delicious and fresh sea foods are served. Visit to the light house and sea lions reserve and then a 4x4 ride (shared service) crossing the dunes and beach up to the entrance of the village. Free evening.
Day 7: Rocha (B/L/-)
After breakfast, enjoy a private excursion into the hills of Rocha. You’ll be visiting a local farm and riding centre called Caballos de Luz (Horses of Light). Your hosts will prepare a delicious lunch for you using organic products from their farm, and you’ll sit down together to talk and enjoy the calm of the countryside. In the afternoon you will take a horseback ride through the hills and into the forest and along the way your local guides will tell you about the areas different plants and animals. Later you will return to Montevideo by bus, arriving in the late evening. End of tour.
- Trip duration: 7 days
- Countries visited: Uruguay
Medium: Accommodation in B&Bs or 2-star family-run hotels (always in a private room).
Note: this is a guideline; please refer to the tour detailed description for what is and is not included.
- Level of difficulty: Low
- Accommodation: 1 night in a B&B in Colonia, 3 nights in a hotel in Montevideo, 2 nights in a B&B in La Paloma (near Rocha)
- Transport: Public bus, private car
- Meals included: 6 breakfasts, 3 lunches
Percentage of cost going to local communities:
At least 35%
- Bilingual guide: Available in English, French or Spanish
- Extra services:
You will be helped by a general guide (based in Montevideo but available throughout) who will be able to answer any questions, make any additional arrangements and generally ensure everything goes smoothly.
No minimum number of passengers required and you will not be travelling with a group of people you do not know. Prices quoted are per person and based on at least 2 people travelling. You should expect a cheaper price for bigger groups.
Your passport is required at time of booking. For information on visa requirements, immunisations and health formalities please visit the FCO Travel Advice Website or the US Travel Advice Website (direct links to Uruguay page).
This tour has a low level of physical difficulty and participants can choose to do as much or as little as they like.
What to bring: Travel insurance, passport, binoculars, alarm clock, walking shoes, water bottle, daypack, sun protection, insect repellent, sun glasses and hat, swimwear, flip-flops, torch with extra batteries.
- Best time to travel: November to April
- Extra budget recommended: Around £150 / $200 pp to cover meals and all other expenses not included in the itinerary.
- What is included: Welcome reception at the airport. Transfers (some may be shared). Overland transport. Accommodation. Entrance fees to sites of interest, museums and national parks mentioned in the itinerary. Guided activities and excursions with English speaking guides (some private, some as part of a small group). Meals as stated in the itinerary (B= Breakfast, L= Lunch, D= Dinner). Contributions to the social projects visited. Donation to help in preserving the Amazon rainforest through agro-forestry and education.
- What is not included: Flights. Travel insurance. Alcoholic drinks. Additional meals or snacks. Travel within and around each town. Visa fees (if any). Tips. Souvenirs.
There is no minimum duration and you can take only the activities or destinations you want. To start creating your ideal, tailor-made tour to Uruguay, please complete and send this form. Our local partner will be in touch shortly:
The Serene Shores of Uruguay Tour
£ 1,095 GBP
Sandwiched between Argentina and Brazil, the giants of South America, Uruguay is a diminutive country with a big heart. The people here are known for their tolerance and warmth and the country’s laid-back seaside towns, temperate climate and serene countryside make it a beautifully restful place to visit.