Uruguay riding
Haras Las Tordillas Ranch
Horses at the ranch
Living room area
Living room area
Cabins by night
The terrace
Riding on the dunes

A truly varied Latin American adventure combing two based stays for an authentic taste of Uruguay. Starting at the luxurious Haras Las Tortillas ranch for 4 days of riding and ending on the Atlantic coast in Barra de Valizas. This holiday offers the ideal opportunity to discover Uruguay, with its authentic gaucho culture and pristine coastline, the country is made for riding.

Discover the charms of this tranquil South American hidden gem, travelling along deserted beaches, across pastures, through wetlands & woodlands; passing shipwrecks and skirting lagoons. You'll spot a great variety of fascinating wildlife as this varied itinerary ride takes you through the East Wetlands UNESCO Biosphere Reserve & SNAP Cabo Polonio National Park and sample the delicious local food and Uruguayan wine with welcoing and friendly hosts.

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Day 1
Arrival at Montevideo airport and transfer to your first stop; Haras Las Tordillas ranch, approximately a 2 hour drive (130km). Upon arrival at the ranch you'll have lunch and be shown to your room, a private cabin with all amenities and then will be able to meet the horses. After an extensive home-cooked lunch out on the terrace if the weather permits, you'll get acquainted with the horses on a one hour ride around the local area. In the evening, dinner will be served at the ranch along with wine from local vineyards.

Day 2
Breakfast will be served between 08:30/09:00 am. You'll then set out on todays ride which takes you through pine forests. You'll cross streams on horseback and be able to admire the magnificent views that surround the ranch. Lunch will be a picnic in open countryside at a handpicked spot. The ride takes around 4-5 hours. Dinner and lodging back at the ranch.

Day 3
After breakfast, you'll ride in the direction of renowned local vineyard; the Viña Eden Winery, with a lunch stop at the typical Uruguayan restaurant Posta de Vaimaca. After lunch you'll continue your ride to the winery where you'll be treated to a guided tour and a tasting of their wines. Back to the ranch by private transfer and dinner back at the ranch.

Day 4
After breakfast, you'll head out on the last ride from the ranch before being collected by minibus and transferred to your next stop of Valizas, a 2.5 hour drive away. This small village is on the Atlantic coast, surrounded by extensive prairies, palm grove forests and huge sand dunes. After leaving the luggage at the guesthouse, you'll have lunch, meet the horses and ride through a pine forest. On this short and easy ride you'll stop in the beautiful Hidden Lagoon to have a dip and watch the sunset and will return along the pristine beach. Overnight and dinner at Guesthouse Lo de Ro. (3 hours riding)

Day 5
After a special home-made breakfast we start early in the morning for a ride inland: today we ride into the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Crossing pasturelands, wetlands and ancient working Estancias, bordering the beautiful Valizas River, we reach the second biggest coastal lagoon in Uruguay where this river was born: Castillos Lagoon. After a gaucho-style lunch under the great Ombus forest, an ancient and unique botanical formation, we can have a siesta in a typical hammock or on the sheep skins of our saddles. In the afternoon we ride back to Valizas, crossing a different way back. The East Wetlands are home to hundreds of different birds, amphibians, fishes and wild animals such as Rheas (Rhea Americana), several species of ibis such as Pink egret (Platalea ajaja), Chaja (Chauna torquata), capybaras (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris), armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus), and the most beautiful: blacknecked swan (Cygnus melancoryphus). Overnight and dinner at Guesthouse Lo de Ro. (4 to 5 hours riding)

Day 6
The horse ride starts with taking our horses across the mouth of a small estuary, ridden or towed by boat, depending on the tides. This full day ride takes us through a fascinating dune system, now a national park, to Cabo Polonio - a fishing village turned ‘low key’ beach resort. The village is only accessible through these shifting sand dunes making the village a fascinating outpost. Lunch at a typical local restaurant with fresh fish, seaweed and paella on the menu. Horseback ride back to Valizas via pine forests. Overnight and dinner at Guesthouse Lo de Ro. (4 to 5 hours riding)

Day 7
Do you want to see what it feels like to be a real gaucho? So this day is for you! After the previous 3 days you will know your horse enough to really enjoy this moment. We start early in the morning riding our horses to work with our gaucho neighbour and his cattle. Learning to ride like a gaucho for the last few days were to give you the skills for today (3 hours riding). Once you point your horse  towards the cattle you will find there is another horse with you. After lunch take the bus back to the airport (4.5 hour transfer time) or stay at Valizas for an additional night (not included, please see prices for extra cost) and take the airport bus the following morning.

Private Transfer 2020
If you do not wish to take the public bus back to the airport on the last day of this ride there is also the option of a private transfer at an additional cost. Please speak to your travel advisor if you are interested in this option.

Public Bus Transfer 2020
The bus transfer on the last day of the ride will take people directly to the airport (transfer time is approx 3.5 hours) so we advise booking flights for late evening or alternatively staying an additional night and taking an earlier bus in the morning. All buses need to be booked in advance so please let your travel advisor know your flight times as soon as possible so that the transfer can be arranged.

Additional nights
If required you can book an additional night at the guesthouse in Valizas and then depart for the airport the next morning. Please see Prices for details or speak to your travel advisor.

Please note: All itineraries are given for your guidance only and it may be altered on the ground and in accordance with the prevailing conditions by the organising team.

Horses & Riding

Your first stop is the Haras Las Tordillas ranch which has 8 thoroughbred Arabians available for you to choose from. Their ages vary between 6 and 10 years and they live outside in the herd year-round, only being occasionally stabled in bad weather. The horses are schooled and well trained for long distance trail riding; you can expect a mount that is forward going, spirited, responsive and in excellent condition. Some of the horses are suitable for intermediate riders and some are only for advanced riders. Every effort is made to match horse and rider.

Tack is of a very high standard and is kept in good condition. All the saddles are American Western style. A small saddlebag is provided to carry water bottles (supplied) and personal items for the day. Except for the first day, all day rides are 3-5 hours. This is broken up by lunch (minimum 1 hour) and sometimes an extra refreshment stop. Horses are unsaddled for lunch. After each stop riders lead the horses for a few minutes to loosen the horses' (and the riders') muscles before mounting. Ride pace is varied and moderate and allows fast canters and galloping.

On the hottest summer days rides begin very early in the morning and return early afternoon to spend the afternoons relaxing near the swimming pool. The ride pace is adjusted to the weather and terrain conditions (slower pace in hot, humid and/or wet weather, slippery trails). In case of severe weather warnings (severe rain or storms) and local bush fire danger rides may be unable to go ahead due to safety concerns. In this situation an alternative programme will be arranged (wine tasting tour, Jose Ignacio tour), this is very unlikely but is possible.

On Day 4 you will transfer to your next stop of Valizas on the Atlantic Coast. This second destination has 20 horses to choose from. There are beautifully cared for and trained Criollo horses ranging in height from between 1.50m to 1.65m. You'll be riding in stunning and varied natural landscapes from the East Wetlands UNESCO Natural Biosphere Reserve to the Cabo Polonio National Park, taking in deserted beaches, green prairies, shipwrecks and lagoons. This is truly exceptional and varied riding where you could be visiting an ancient estancia in the morning and crossing rivers and estuaries by the afternoon. You'll spend the last riding day working with some local gauchos and their cattle for the quintessential Latin American experience.


Rider requirements

Riding holidays at this destination are for experienced (intermediate to advanced) riders only. For the minimum riding ability required (intermediate) you are expected to have a firm and balanced seat, had formal riding lessons to master the basic horse riding aids and skills, be confident and capable to control a fit and forward going horse in all paces (including long stretches of posting/rising trot and gallops) in open, varied, sometimes challenging country and to be able to mount and dismount unassisted. It is a great advantage if you are a fit and proficient rider. Wearing a riding hat is compulsory and you must bring your own as these are not available to borrow at the ranch.

Beginner, novice riders and children are not suitable for these rides which go into remote and isolated areas, with limited mobile phone reception and assistance from third parties not immediately available. The maximum weight is 85 kilos. Advanced riders weighing up to 90 kilos will be considered depending on their height. For the horses sake: It is important that you give us your accurate weight (even if you are not close to the weight limit) because of the size and light frame of the Arabian horses, the pace of the rides, the hot weather in summer and the partly steep terrain. Groups are planned carefully according to the rider abilities and weight so that is it suitable for the horses and more enjoyable for you! Guests can offer to help with the horses and get their horse ready in the morning, saddle/unsaddle and wash & clean up the horse and tack, if they want (always supervised), but this is by no means compulsory or expected.

Weight Limit

The weight limit for this ride is 187 lb/85 kg, please enquire if you are an experienced rider exceeding this weight.

The Haras Las Tordillas ranch (first 3 nights) is a 30 acre property. The main residence has a large communal dining/living room and wide veranda, which overlooks the horses grazing in the field and the pool and the garden is complete with native plants and trees. There are 4 separate studio-style cabins for single/double/twin occupancy. Rooms are warm and comfortably furnished. All cabins have their own bathroom with shower and toilet and towels are provided.

The emphasis here is on fresh home-cooked meals and light salad lunches. The continental style breakfast is generally served as toast, condiments, cereals, yogurt and eggs (any style). For lunch out on the trail you can expect light picnic lunches such as salads and sandwiches. Dinner is the main meal of the day and you'll be served international and Uruguayan specialities: beef, pasta, chicken, roast dinner, barbecue. Vegetarian diets can be catered for with advance notice. While at the ranch (first 3 nights) soft drinks (coke and diet coke), water, tea and coffee are freely available on a self-serve basis. Local red or white wine is served with dinner.

On Day 4 you will be transferred to your next destination; the Lo de Ro Guesthouse in Valizas. Lo De Ro is a sustainable mud-made house, made with local natural materials and designed by Latin American architects specialising in bio-construction. You'll be able to enjoy views of the sea, the garden, bedrooms and terraces with panoramic views of the surroundings. There is also free WiFi throughout the property and the guesthouse is a short 10 minute walk from the stables of your second host. The menu for the second part of the trip is varied. You can expect a range of fresh fish, beef and homemade pasta. Meals usually feature a starter, main course and dessert with mineral water included (no alcoholic drinks are included while in Valizas.


Vegetarian or other dietary requirements can be accommodated with advanced notice. Please contact Unicorn Trails with requests.

Documents - Visa and Consulate Info

Please note that it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documentation in place for your trip. If visas are required the requirements can change from year to year depending on diplomatic relations. Please request information from the appropriate consulate in your home country. Unicorn Trails will assist with any questions you have or supply any necessary supporting documents as required by the consulate on request.

General information:

British passport holders do not require visas for entry into Uruguay and can usually stay for up to three months. You can apply to extend your stay for a further three months if necessary to the Dirección Nacional de Migración. You may wish to obtain further information from their official website page: www.minterior.gub.uy/webs/migracion/.

The Uruguayan Embassy in the U.K can be found at 2nd Floor, 140 Brompton Road, London, SW3 1HY. Telephone: (020) 7589 8835. Email: emb@urubri.demon.co.uk.

The British Embassy in Uruguay can be found at Calle Marco Bruto 1073, 11300 Montevideo, P O Box 16024. Telephone: (598) (2) 622 3630. Email: bemonte@internet.com.uy.

The Foreign and commonwealth office gives travel advice on www.fco.gov.uk or on 0207 008 0232/0233.

Climate Summary

The climate of Uruguay is similar to that of the Pampas region of Argentina and because of the level nature of the country there is little variation of weather and climate within Uruguay. The table for Montevideo (below) is representative of the coastal districts and there are only slight differences between these and the areas farther inland. 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 too. The average temperature at this time of year is 65 F, average lows are 54 F, and average highs are 74 F.

Most of Uruguay has a moderate annual rainfall of about 1,000 mm/40 in; this is well distributed throughout the year but the autumn months tend to be slightly wetter. Rain falls on a comparatively small number of days; about one day in five in all seasons. Thus the rainfall when it occurs is often moderate to heavy.

The summers are warm but not as hot as in some other countries in similar latitudes, such as the southern Atlantic coastlands of the USA or parts of southeast Australia. Winters are mild and frost and snow are very rare. Southerly winds can bring occasional spells of colder weather, which may be associated with squally winds or gales in the estuary of the river Plate. However, such outbreaks of colder polar air from Antarctica are much modified after they have crossed some thousands of miles of warmer water in the South Atlantic.

Inland the summer temperatures are a little higher than those found on the coast. Sunshine hours are high in Uruguay, ranging from five to six hours a day in winter to as much as nine to ten in summer. The climate of Uruguay is rarely uncomfortable or unpleasant and can be described as healthy for most of the year.

Climate Chart

Health

There are no specific health requirements in place for visitors to Uruguay. Ask your GP for advice before travelling.

For up to date information on specific health concerns please contact the Medical Advisors For Travellers Abroad. Their website is www.masta.org. You can also check the Department of Healths website at www.dh.gov.uk.

Health (ride specific)

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.

Electricity

The voltage in Uruguay runs at 220V (the U.K is 230V) and 50Hz frequency. Most appliances such as battery chargers for videos, hair dryers etc. can be plugged in with appropriate adapters. These are available for purchase at most airports and travel shops.

Film and Camera Equipment

Free WiFi internet access is available at both your accommodations on this ride. Cameras and batteries can be charged overnight.

Packing List

Riding hat (compulsory and not available to borrow so you must bring your own)
Suitable riding boots or shoes (with a small heel to prevent slipping through stirrups)
Jodhpurs or riding trousers
Lightweight rain / wind jacket that fits into the (provided) saddlebags
Sunscreen
Sunglasses
Compact camera
Riding gloves
Long sleeved shirts (protection from sun and branches)
Warm slippers for winter evenings
Towel
Swimwear

Programmes

This is a 7 day/6 night programme with 6 days riding available on set dates.

Departure Dates

2020: 2 Apr (FULL); 14 May; 27 Aug; 17 Sep; 1 Nov; 1 Oct; 10 Dec.

Pricing
No single supplement is charged if the rider is willing to share with someone of the same sex, and a sharer can be found.
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description £
2020 - 6 nights7d/6n7double pp2,019
2020 - 6 nights7d/6n7single supplement325
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description
2020 - 6 nights7d/6n7double pp2,289
2020 - 6 nights7d/6n7single supplement369
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description $
2020 - 6 nights7d/6n7double pp2,525
2020 - 6 nights7d/6n7single supplement409
No of   
days/nights
Riding days Product item description SEK
2020 - 6 nights7d/6n7double pp25,079
2020 - 6 nights7d/6n7single supplement4,035
Additional Night Pricing
  No of days/nights Product item description £
2020 - additional night including breakfast per nightdouble pp105
  No of days/nights Product item description
2020 - additional night including breakfast per nightdouble pp119
  No of days/nights Product item description $
2020 - additional night including breakfast per nightdouble pp129
  No of days/nights Product item description SEK
2020 - additional night including breakfast per nightdouble pp1,279
Recommended Reading

A write-up of the region visited: https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/americas/rocha-uruguay-mission-to-find-a-mythical-beach-10112855.html


Other Activities

Non-riders are accepted but we recommend that they have a rental car to explore the area. The non-riders can sometimes travel with the support vehicle to the lunch spot and can join the riders at the Vina Eden winery on Day 3 to enjoy some wine-tasting where local vineyards sit on Pueblo Eden's stony mountains slopes. The mineral character of the soil create the ideal conditions for the sustainable production of unique wines. This vineyard is minutes away from Punta del Este, on the panoramic Route 12, which is begins on the Atlantic coast and makes its way across the mountains, you will find Viña Eden one of Uruguay's most picturesque spots.

Other Information

Uruguay is a little smaller than the United Kingdom and about the same size as the state of Washington. It lies on the east coast of South America between 30° and 35°S. It is bordered on the north by Brazil and on the west by the river Uruguay, which forms the border with Argentina. Most of the country is low-lying and rather flat, with the highest hills rising to about 450 m/1,500 ft.

Other Country Information

Uruguay's original inhabitants were the Charrúa Indians, a hunter-gatherer people. They killed the explorer Juan Diaz de Solís and most of his party when the Spaniards encountered them in 1516. But by the 17th century, the Charrúas had prospered, abandoned hostilities, and begun trading with the Spanish. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the territory changed hands between the Spanish and Portuguese several times. By 1832 virtually all Charrúas had been killed or forced to leave, leaving Uruguay with no indigenous people (the only such country in Latin America). Uruguayans are virtually all of European descent, mostly of Spanish and Italian stock. Uruguay gained independance in 1828.

The second smallest country in South America, Uruguay borders two giants, Brazil and Argentina. Just under half the population lives in Greater Montevideo, one of South America's most interesting capitals, charming colonial towns, the hilly interior (true gaucho country) and a cluster of internationally renowned beach resorts.

Uruguay is three hours behind GMT and they use the metric weights and measures system, so kilometres and kilograms instead of miles and pounds. There is approximately 1.6 kilometres in a mile and 2.2 pounds in a kilogram.

The international dialling code is +598.

Travel Summary

Meeting-point (getting there):
Montevideo Airport (MVD), Uruguay
Transfer:
2020: included from/to Montevideo (MVD) airport. The return transfer back to the airport is via public bus (private transfer also available for additional cost of $377 for 8 people, payable on-site).
Flight Guide:
London - Montevideo (MVD) return £650 - £975
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