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    Wild and Exotic exclusive Rocha Province mobile ride summary

    This unique and exclusive itinerary in the beautiful Uruguayan province of Rocha has been devised by Wild and Exotic and our partners in Uruguay following a research trip in early 2011. The concept has been to provide a genuine 9 day riding safari covering some 300 kilometres of varied landscape. Along the way guests will experience sweeping grassy estancias, expansive groves of ancient palm trees, clean fresh water lagoons combined with a rural hospitality and way of life that is second to none. The holiday finishes with two days of fun and relaxation at the  exquisite estancia El Charabon and a ride or transfer to the ocean for those who wish. This ride is unique to Wild and Exotic and is not offered by any other tour operator in the world.

    Wild and Exotic exclusive Rocha Province Mobile ride itinerary

    This unique and exclusive itinerary in the beautiful Uruguayan province of Rocha has been devised by Wild and Exotic and our partners in Uruguay following a research trip in early 2011. The concept has been to provide a genuine 9 day riding safari covering some 300 kilometres of varied landscape. Along the way guests will experience sweeping grassy estancias, expansive groves of ancient palm trees, clean fresh water lagoons combined with a rural hospitality and way of life that is second to none. The holiday finishes with two days of fun and relaxation at the exquisite estancia El Charabon and a ride or transfer to the ocean for those who wish. This ride is unique to Wild and Exotic and is not offered by any other tour operator in the world.

    Day 1: British Airways flight BA0245 departs London Heathrow at 21:55hrs.

    Day 2: British Airways flight arrives into Buenos Aires at 07:35hrs. On arrival you will be met and transferred to the Loi Suites hotel, in the beautiful district of Recoleta for an overnight stay.

    Day 3: This morning you will be transferred to the domestic airport in time to check in to your Aerolineas Argentinas flight to Montevideo.  On arrival into Montevideo you will be met and transferred to the down town hotel. You can explore the downtown streets and experience the typical Rio de la Plata music, the Tango or Candombe with the rhythms and coloured costumes. This afternoon we will have a luxury barbecue at the Mercado del Puerto and city tour to discover Montevideo, a very quiet and safe city that combines museums, street markets, nice restaurants and very friendly people. Overnight at a nice centrally located 3 to 4 star hotel. (L)

    Day 4: This morning we will be driven (4hrs) to the Brazilian border and into Rocha the most beautiful province in Uruguay with pristine beaches, emerald shores and network of lagoons, native forest and palm trees, and wetlands for bird watching. Before arriving at Fortin San Miguel hotel, we will pass through the town of Chuy where the official boundary runs between Uruguay and Brazil down the middle of the main street. The locals speak a strange mix of Spanish and Portuguese!  After a visit to a shop that sells wonderful leatherwear (including tack and boots), we will arrive at Fortin San Miguel. The hotel is built from the same stone as the nearby Portuguese fortress and from here we can admire views out across a huge stretch of water (one of the largest fresh water reserves of South America, the Merin Lagoon). We will arrive at Fortin San Miguel in time for a swim before lunch, after which there will be an afternoon ride to get to know the horses and tack. Dinner and night at Fortin San Miguel.

    Day 5: We will leave early this morning on a 48km ride to Estancia El Sauce, riding through rolling hills and stopping for a picnic lunch in the native forest near the river San Miguel. After lunch there will be the opportunity for riders to be transferred for the remainder of the journey by vehicle; for those wishing to continue on horseback we will cross an irrigation canal onto Estancia Campo Alto, and continue to the open grassland of Estancia La Doma, where there will be the opportunity for some fast riding before we arrive a the charming Estancia El Sauce. This property was built in 1920 and we stay here as guests of the owners. In addition to grassland the estancia has a large area of marshlands and rice, teeming with bird life (more than 400 species in this area) including the graceful black-necked swan (the largest populations in the world are to be found here), rare white goose, flamingoes and the ostrich-like rhea. Otters, coypus and capybaras also inhabit the marshlands and streams. We hope to reach El Sauce before sunset and enjoy a home prepared dinner after this long riding day. Dinner and the night Estancia El Sauce.

    Day 6: Today we will ride the pure Criollo horses belonging to El Sauce, which are also used to work cattle on the farm. There will be the opportunity to work alongside the gauchos this morning – the mounted stockmen wear traditional berets, bombachas, (South America riding breeches) and carry facones (large knives) tucked into their colourful belts. The 4 hour long ride takes us through eucalyptus forest and across the neighbouring estancia to the historical “Cerritos de Indios”, near a lagoon, which is a cemetery of aborigines that lived 4000 years ago. After an al fresco picnic lunch at the native forest there will be some long canters beneath glorious blue skies before we ride back to the estancia to relax and sunbathe and try out the property’s unique swimming pool before dinner.

    Day 7: After a traditional breakfast of homemade bread, jam and traditional cakes, we set off for the neighboring Estancia Cerco De Piedra, which belong to cousins of the owners of El Sauce. After an hour’s ride, we will breast a hill offering commanding views of the beautiful Rocha province and the stone walls from which this property takes its name. At midday, we will have a picnic lunch and a siesta, where riders discover that gauchos saddles are as just as comfortable to sleep on as ride in. Afterwards we will visit Estancia Bella Vista and we will ride through groves of 300 year old palm trees – these are not native to Uruguay, yet no one knows how they arrived here three centuries ago. Many species of wildlife that inhabit these surroundings, including the ostrich-like Rhea, wild boar (known as Jabalí) and capybaras in the rivers.  We will reach Estancia Bella Vista after 3 or 4 hour’s ride and our campsite near a fresh water stream.

    Day 8: There is an early start as today we will be riding nearly 50kms to estancia Guardia del Monte. After a couple of hours we reach the  hills of La Carbonera where gaucho used to hide stolen cattle in years gone by – we will visit the remote farmhouse of Tres Lunas here before continuing downhill through a shady eucalyptus forest. After 3 hours we will reach the Castillos lagoon, and the Ombú Forest reserve where we will break for lunch at a cottage made from natural materials called Barra Grande. The Ombú tree rarely grows in groups of more than 2 or 3, and this forest is considered to be the only one of its kind in the world. Each tree has a unique shape and some are over 500 years old with a 6 foot diameter. On reaching the lagoon we may see black-necked swans, spoonbills, ibis, herons, egret, storks and a legion of other birds (migratory birds arrive here from as far as Alaska and the Falkland Islands). There is the opportunity for long canters along the shore of the lagoon, before reaching Guardia del Monte, which is a lovely working estancia perched on a buff overlooking the lagoon and surrounded by glorious countryside that  has been a reserve since 1996. Home produced food and Alicia’s hospitality will provide a magical evening here, possibly enhanced by the lights of fishermen catching a native fish called pejerrey by night in the lake.  Overnight Estancia Guardia del Monte, where it will be necessary for some guests to sleep in tents should the group number more than 8.

    Day 9: The day starts with breakfast at our campsite in the Ombú forest. During the morning, we will ride along the shores of Castillos lagoon to the Valizas Stream, which runs into the ocean a few miles south of Cabo Polonio. We will have lunch beside the lagoon and afterwards ride through the UNESCO Biosphere Natural Reserve, characterized by miles of shifting sand dunes. We will dismount to climb to the summit of the Cerro De La Buena vista, a natural vantage point with stunning views both inland and to the ocean. We will spend the night at a specially prepared campsite in this lovely landscape at the end of a 30km ride.

    Day 10: With the bulk of the ride now behind us there will be time to sleep in and enjoy a leisurely breakfast this morning, after which we will ride through reserve to Cabo Polonio, a charming fishing village which can only be reached by horse or four wheel drive vehicle. This picturesque village lies between rolling sand dunes and miles of unspoilt pristine beach, and after a refreshing swim in the ocean, we will have lunch at a local beachside restaurant just yards from breaking waves. Afterwards we will visit the seals and sea lions that like to sunbathe on warm rocks beneath the lighthouse and if we are very lucky may spot a migrating whale. There will also be the chance for some more swimming before we bid goodbye to this enchanting place and ride out of the sand dunes to meet the vehicle that will transfer us to El Charabon 30 kms away, a beautiful and very comfortable estancia offering superior accommodation within a short drive of the coast. Facilities include swimming pool, terrace and gardens and whilst staying here guests will enjoy the finest of Uruguayan cuisine.

    Day 11: Today we will ride to the coast across pasturelands with plenty of opportunities for fast paced riding on traditional Uruguayan horses. After a picnic lunch on the beach you may choose between riding back to the estancia or staying beside the ocean and returning later by vehicle (a 30 minute drive). Guests can also opt not to ride at all today and transfer to and from the beach by car – or simply stay behind and relax in the grounds and gardens of the lovely estancia Charabon.

    Day 12: Today can be spent relaxing at the estancia, riding and playing mounted games such as the traditional “prueba de reinda” before a late lunch on the terrace overlooking the swimming pool. After lunch and a refreshing swim and siesta, you will be transferred back to the airport in time to check into your Aerolineas Argentinas flight back to Buenos Aires. On arrival into Buenos Aires you will be met and transferred to the Loi Suites hotel for an overnight stay. AB, L.

    Day 13: Today under your own arrangements you will transfer to Ezeiza international airport in time to check in to your flight home. British Airways flight BA0244 departs Buenos Aires international airport (EZE) at13:25hrs.

    Day 14: British Airways flight arrives back into London Heathrow at 06:40hrs. End of Wild and Exotic services.


    The price of this itinerary is inclusive of all activities described, together with full board and lodging, based on two people sharing twin or double accommodation, except in Montevideo, where the rate is bed and breakfast only. The price does not include items of a personal nature, gratuities, and visa fees. Beer, wine and local spirits are provided when nights are spent under canvas and at picnic lunches but alcohol at estancias, lodges and hotels must be paid for prior to departure.

    The single supplement is waived if guests are prepared share accommodation.
    There is a maximum rider weight of 95kg. Guests weighing more than this can be accommodated by prior agreement and with a supplement charge for extra horses.

    As ATOL license holders (#6445) we can book seats on most major airlines at competitive prices. We are able to make the booking (and fix the best price, less taxes and fuel charges) up to a year in advance with payment not normally due until 8 weeks before departure – this means that we can release your seats at anytime up until payment is due without penalty.

    Our recommendation is that guests fly with British Airways direct to Buenos Aires in Argentina and overnight at our specially selected hotel in the beautiful district of Recoleta both before and after the ride, with short connecting flights between Buenos Aires and Montevideo. The direct international flights to Buenos Aires are easier and less expensive than flying to Montevideo via Sao Paulo.

    If guests would prefer to miss out overnight stays in Buenos Aires, they can fly from London Heathrow to Montevideo.

    This itinerary is designed for experienced riders who are fit and able to ride up to 50 kilometers per day. Enjoyment of the ride will be vastly improved for those ‘riding fit’ and for those that have mastered the art of the sitting trot (necessary for the local saddles). Please note that this is a new and challenging itinerary that will be subject to changes and refinements between now and departure date.

    The quality of rooms varies between lodgings, which vary from tents to working estancias. Guests should not expect to be in identical or even similar rooms.

    Please note that it is the responsibility of the client to ensure they obtain the correct visa prior to travel. Wild and Exotic will assist with visa applications if instructed but cannot be held responsible for a client’s failure to obtain a visa for whatever reason. UK and US citizens currently do not require a visa to visit Uruguay for a stay of up to 90 days.

    Neither Wild and Exotic nor the operators or suppliers can accept any responsibility for changes to itineraries or dates that may arise due to weather or unforeseen circumstances such as changes, disruptions or delays to airline flights for whatever reason. This holiday is subject to Wild and Exotic’s terms and conditions, a copy of which is available on this website under the general info tab.

    Wild and Exotic fact sheet for exclusive Rocha Province mobile ride

    Accommodation: Accommodation on this ride varies from simple and rustic estancias where we are welcomed by the owners or their representatives to a smart Montevideo hotel at the beginning of the holiday and the exquisite estancia El Charabon for the final two nights of our stay in Uruguay. We also spend nights under canvas, during which guests sleep on superior inflatable mattresses.

    Activities: As well as riding there are plenty of opportunities for swimming in the ocean and in pools at some of our overnight stops, as well as some opportunities for shopping.

    Children: Are welcome to join private groups provided they are competent riders. Children under 16 years of age will only be permitted to join set departure rides in exceptional circumstances.

    Clothing List: Will be sent with all booking forms.

    Communications: The international telephone service is efficient, though subject to delays (there are very few nights on this tour that guests can make international calls from hotels/estancias). One can now use many U.S. telecommunications companies for direct service calls to the United States. Mobile telephones tend to have a limited and varied success, please do not rely on your mobile working – whatever your mobile phone provider promises you! The guide will have a mobile phone available for emergencies, the mobile telephone coverage is good but not 100% coverage in the riding area. Uruguay is two time zones ahead of Eastern Standard Time (USA) and four hours behind the UK during British summertime (only 3 hours end October to March). There are many internet cafes with email facilities and telephones for cheap international calls in both Montevideo and Buenos Aires. NONE of the places you stay at on this tour has internet facilities for guests.

    Departure tax: Departure taxes are levied when leaving both Uruguay and Argentina (subject to change without notice) which are usually payable by credit card, but best to have the cash ready.  Very few flight tickets include the airport tax and it is very difficult to know if or not this tax has been included in your ticket. On leaving Uruguay the tax is currently US$31, even if it is just to Ezeiza (Buenos Aires main airport). The tax is currently US$17 if you are flying into Buenos Aires city airport (‘Aeroparque’).

    Drinks: Beer, local wines and spirits are included wherever nights are spent at campsites; guests run a tab at other lodgings and the bill for drinks must be settled before departure. Please note the only spirit available at campsite is the local brew – guests are advised to purchase a bottle of their favourite spirits in duty free.

    Electricity: Electricity in Uruguay is 220 volts, 50 cycle, single phase. U.S. appliances can be used with step down transformers, which are available in Montevideo. Sockets are for 2 or 3 round pins, or rectangular pins -an international adaptor is very useful.

    How to Get There: The easiest way is to fly direct to Montevideo. Alternatively Uruguay can be combined with a visit to Argentina, in which case a ferry can be taken from Buenos Aires to either Colonia (45 mins) or Montevideo (3 hours) on the north side of the Rio del Plata. There are also short connecting flights from Buenos Aires to Montevideo.

    Insurance: Insurance is mandatory for all Wild and Exotic holidays.

    Length of Rides: Guests ride nearly 50kms on the longest day, which is up to 8 hours in the saddle. On shorter days guests may ride for 3 or 4 hours only.

    Luggage: Guests are required to bring the minimum of belongings and we suggest that you pack your belongings for the ride in one bag. Checked in bags, hand luggage – size and weight: please check very carefully, the airlines are now very strict. You will be charged if your luggage is overweight.

    Medical and safety: Medical kits are carried on every ride and every effort is made to ensure the safety of guests.  In Uruguay there are English speaking doctors and dentists. Appropriate travel health insurance is the responsibility of each guest and is obligatory. It is each guests’ responsibility to ensure that they have all the necessary health/vaccination certificates to enter the country. To our knowledge, at this time, no specific inoculations are required to enter Uruguay, but you must consult with a travel health clinic and it is recommended that all standard immunizations be kept current (please always consult with your Doctor/travel health clinic). Sanitation and food-handling standards in Uruguay are high, and the water supply is well maintained. General advice: avoid food from street vendors. Insect repellent is needed as there are mosquitoes (to our knowledge, not malaria carrying). The guide will talk to you in detail about snakes as there are dangerous snakes in Uruguay.

    Meals: The emphasis is on fresh local produce, beginning with home baked bread at many of the estancias and ending up with delicious home cooked dinners that might include local lamb and beef. Picnic lunches usually arrive with the support vehicle but are occasionally carried in saddlebags.

    Medical and safety: The guides carry mobile telephones and first aid kits. The ambulance service and network of hospitals is excellent in Rocha and hospitals excellent in Montevideo. Please note that all guests on this ride must be adequately insured for medical expenses.

    Money: Depending on the time of arrival, there are opportunities to exchange money in both Montevideo and Buenos Aires – If possible/time it is better to exchange money in the cities at exchange houses near the hotels as the rate is usually much better than the airport. During the ride there will not be any opportunities to exchange money – we hope that on day 1 we can give you the chance to change money.  Guests should always change money at the official, designated places and the current exchange rate will be posted. The hotel/your guide will give you the latest rate and advise where to go.

    Travellers cheques have to be signed very carefully when exchanging them and guests are finding it increasingly difficult to cash travellers’ cheques. We suggest you bring an amount of US dollars (Euros can also be exchanged & Sterling in Montevideo) in cash as US Dollars are increasingly the most convenient way of obtaining Uruguayan pesos and use your credit card to withdraw cash in Montevideo/at the airport.   N.B. Foreign currency must be in perfect condition, otherwise it may not be accepted). Many hotels and restaurants accept US Dollars but the exchange rate is sometimes not favourable. When changing money/accepting change, please be careful of false notes, although this is not a big problem in Uruguay. Credit cards (particularly Visa & Amex, Mastercard is more difficult) are accepted in large hotels, shops and restaurants in Montevideo but it is unwise to rely on this. Do not forget to let your credit card company know that you are going abroad and where, otherwise your card could be blocked.

    Guests will need to bring money for -drinks (alcoholic beverages in the evening) although water is provided while riding and mineral water with dinner, the Uruguayan water supply is also usually safe to drink (please ask your guide at each lodgings),  personal expenses such as telephone calls and laundry bills, discretionary tips, souvenirs (leatherwork, tack and crafts).

    Non-Riders: This ride is not really suitable for non-riders, although they could be transferred between lodgings by special arrangement. For non-riding partners or spouses we recommend a tailor made itinerary in Rocha Province, with some nights being spent with the rest of the riding group but with different activities and interests during the day.

    Power supplies: Except when camping, guests will be able to recharge cameras and electronic equipment at estancias and hotels. etc. Except for camping, each evening there is a regular power supply.

    Riding Ability: This itinerary is designed for experienced riders who are fit and able to ride up to 50 kilometers per day on the longest stretches. Enjoyment of the ride will be much improved for guests whom are ‘riding fit’ and for those who have mastered the art of the sitting trot, which is the best way to ride using the local saddles.

    Single Supplement: A single supplement of $US250 or £160 applies for anyone wishing to reserve singe accommodation. As we are using old an historical estancias too many requests for single supplements will reduce the size of the party.

    Size of the Rides: This ride is for a maximum of 12 guests, based on shared (twin or double) accommodation. Single supplements may reduce the maximum size of the ride.
    At one estancia (for one night only) some of the group will be required to sleep in tents if the party exceeds 8 guests in double or twin accommodation.

    Tack: Traditional South American gaucho saddles are used with think sheepskins on top of the saddles and western style bridles requiring neck reining. As the stirrups are narrow it is not advisable to ride on anything other than smooth soled riding/jodhpur boots. Boots with grips/treads are not recommended.

    Terrain: One of the delights of this ride is the diverse nature of the landscape through which we ride. We will cross open grassy estancias, low lying marshland where we must ford fresh water channels and rivers, extraordinary forests of wild palm trees and spectacular sand dunes that run into the Atlantic Ocean.

    Time zones: Montevideo is 2 or 3 hours behind GMT (daylight saving in operation).

    Tipping: Tipping is at your discretion. Airport and hotel porters: $US1.  Taxi drivers do not expect tips. Guests often leave an envelope with the guide at the end of the ride to give to local guides/grooms/drivers etc. This is entirely discretionary, as a guideline US$150 per guest for the 10 day itinerary.

    Type of Horses: The horses used are the pure local Uruguayan ‘Criollo’ breed or the Criollo crossed with a variety of other breeds such as the English Thoroughbred.

    Valuables: Although Uruguay has one of the best records in Latin America for safety we advise that you please take the minimum valuables and avoid wearing expensive watches/jewellery in public, use the hotel/estancia safety deposit box,  use money belts and do not leave valuables ‘on show’ or in back/outside pockets, whilst riding your , valuables should be locked in one of your bags, please make sure you have a lock. In Montevideo/Buenos Aires, taxis should always be taken at night (i.e do not walk). Ask the hotel/shop or restaurant to call you a taxi, particularly in Buenos Aires, do not ‘flag down’ a taxi in the street.

    Visas: It is the responsibility of each individual guest to check that their passport and necessary papers are in order.  Passports must be valid for at least six months after the date of departure from Uruguay. Please leave a photocopy of your passport at home and bring an additional copy with you to Uruguay.

    Weather: Between October to April the weather can be hot – above 30 centigrade (late December to mid February near 40C), the evenings do cool down especially in October/November as it is spring. In October, November and April the evenings and early mornings are cooler, but the middle of the day can still be hot. Mid February to March (late summer/early Autumn) the evenings do not cool down so much but it is pleasant too sleep (not too hot). Guests must be prepared for rain storms during the rides and an occasional cold onshore wind on the beaches as well as a very strong sun. The sea is usually warm enough to swim in, especially in March and April and guests tend to use the outdoor pools from late October to late March.

    When to go: This ride can be run from mid October to mid December (spring) and again from mid February to the end of April (autumn).

    Weight Limit: A second horse will be provided for riders of over 90kg, for which there is a surcharge of £20 or $30 per day payable in advance of the ride. Riders over 90kg are only accepted with prior agreement.

    Wildlife: Rocha province is home to more than 400 species of birdlife including the ostrich-like rhea, the graceful black-necked swan (the largest populations in the world are to be found here), the rare white goose and numerous species of waterfowl such as spoonbills, ibis, heron, egret and storks. Otters, coypus and capybara inhabit the marshlands, whilst the open county is home to armadillos and wild boar known as Jabali. On the coast you are likely to see Cabo Polonio’s resident sea lions and may also spot dolphins feeding in the bay. The best time of year for seeing whales is from mid November to mid December.

    Uruguay general information and map

    Capital: Montevideo

    Getting there: The easiest way is to fly direct to Montevideo. Alternatively Uruguay can be combined with a visit to Argentina, in which case a ferry can be taken from Buenos Aires to either Colonia (45 mins) or Montevideo (3 hours) on the north side of the Rio del Plata. There are also short connecting flight from Buenos Aires to Montevideo.

    Time: GMT minus 4 hours.

    Try not to miss: The old Portuguese town at Colonia and the fabulous Juanico vineyard north east of Montevideo. Afterwards head east along the coast to Rocha province, an unspoilt landscape of grassy estancias, groves of wild palm trees and beautiful freshwater lagoons. We have hand picked a selection of special estancias and posadas in this lovely province that offer ideal retreats from which to explore the surrounding countryside on foot or horseback whilst enjoying exemplary cuisine and staying in great comfort. The Rocha coastline is also wilder and less crowded here, and includes the enchanting fishing village of Cabo Polonio, which is only accessible on foot, horse or by 4 wheel drive vehicle. We offer a selection of diverse and exciting mobile riding holidays in this region, please select the riding tab for further infomation. Away from the bright lights and glitz of Punta del Este, Jose Ignacio is another of our favourite destinations and the perfect place to relax overlooking the ocean at the end of your holiday.

    Visas: No visa is required for visits of up to 90 days for UK citizens.

    Why Uruguay: For the unspolit and tranquil Rocha province, our amazing autumn and spring rides, and miles of glorious beaches dotted with discreet and charming getaways.


    “Great trip thank you. Where and when is the next one?”
    John and Betsy Spence, Rocha Province ride, Uruguay, March 2012


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