Only 20 minutes from the jarring, glitzy resort fashioned Punta del Este, expansive golden beaches and low headlands stretch northeast along a single coast road connecting a ribbon of beach settlements.
This is where you will find La Barra, Manantiales and José Ignacio, each emptier and more low-key than the last. Little shops and restaurants sell floaty dresses and Gucci sunglasses, dulce de leche ice cream, the local Chivito sandwich and Japanese sushi.
This area is to Uruguayans as the Hamptons are to New Yorkers; a chic retreat from city life that exudes barefoot elegance with a distinctly South American, bohemian charm.
The native cultures of our country used canoes as a primary means of transport.
These were the Guarani people who, upon navigating the rivers, streams and lagoons, discovered all the geographical features of Uruguay, leaving us a legacy of native names like Aiguá (springs), Batoví (bosom), Cebollatí, Cuareim and, of course, Uruguay, which is also a Guarani name meaning “river of the painted birds.”
As Uruguayans, whether of native or European descent, we carry the native spirit of these lands within us, and since interaction with the water is an integral part of this culture, it’s no surprise that so many people love to go canoeing, whether for exploration or recreation.
You will discover natural reserves, streams and lagoons and you will be able to appreciate the great variety of birds that live in the surroundings;
if you are lucky, you might even spot a capybara, an armadillo or one of the shy deer that live in the native forests of the surrounding area. (Includes specialized guide, necessary equipment for the activity, water and snack), Length of tour: 2 hours.
Enjoy a multi-activity adventure travelling 30 kilometers across lagoons, sand dunes and the protected area of "El Caracol".
Leave behind the last corners of the Province of Maldonado, where the territory becomes Rocha! The challenge is to avoid engines combining kayaks, stand up paddle, bicycles, hiking and horses. The challenge begins in Jose Ignacio where we start biking along roads and trails that will take us to our horses.
We leave the bikes and mount our equine friends who will take us across the “mouth” of the Garzon Lagoon and over 10 kilometers of sand dunes of absolutely virgin and deserted beaches, only accessible by 4X4 SUV or horseback. A hidden trail between the lagoon and the oceanic beach, will take us to the Circular Bridge of Laguna Garzon where we will take our Stand up Paddle boards to paddle across the bay of La Balsa de la Laguna.
Before entering the open lagoon, we leave the boards behind and board our kayaks to cross the lagoon to the east coast of the Protected Area. We finish the last section of the experience, hiking along forest trails that will take us from Costa Bonita to the protected area "El Caracol". We will arrive to a secluded spot of hammocks, fire pits, grills and cocktails! We will enjoy an unforgettable dinner or lunch with the noise of the waves, which reminds us that the sea is only a few meters away. Duration of the walk: Full day
Includes specialized guide, water and snacks during the tour, horses, saddlebags, bicycles, SUP tables and kayaks. Lunch or dinner with flavored waters, wine and welcome drink.
Your tour starts at the lighthouse of the small town of La Paloma from
where you will bike to the lovely Rocha Lagoon, a semi-freshwater lagoon of 72 km2 (28 sq mi).
The lagoon has an outlet to the sea during winter months and constitutes a bird paradise with 220 species which have been recorded like migratory waders, Flamingos, Swans, Herons and ducks among others.
This unique protected natural area is part of what we call the wetlands of the “Eastern Biosphere Reserve” internationally recognized within the framework of the Man and the Biosphere (Man and the Biosphere, MAB) of UNESCO since 1976.
On arrival to the local fishermen´s town, our canoes will be waiting for us. We will paddle along the lagoon where we will be able to see various bird species, local wildlife and native vegetation.
At midday, we will enjoy a typical picnic lunch. Transfer back to Jose Ignacio. (Includes specialized guide, bikes with helmet, canoeing equipment, picnic and transport to Jose Ignacio). Length of tour: 5 hours.
Enjoy a cycling tour from the town of Jose Ignacio to the shores of the “Anastasio” or “Garzon” lagoons.
You will visit the small town with its lighthouse and Main Square and continue along route 10 along the coast towards “La Lengueta”, one of the arms of the Garzón lagoon.
After stopping for some refreshments and to enjoy the beautiful landscape of the area, the tour continues along local trails until you arrive to the shores of the lagoon.. The lagoon landscape unfolds between lakes and countryside. After crossing a picturesque bridge, you will arrive to the forest where we will enjoy a typical picnic lunch. During the afternoon, we will return to Jose Ignacio. Length of tour: 2 hours. Full day tour: 4 hours biking
Tour includes specialized guide, support vehicle throughout the ride (only private groups), snacks and water, bikes with helmet and handle bag and picnic. The average distance ridden is 12 kms but this may be adapted to clients’ skills and interests.
The tour begins with a visit to the amazing Garzon Winery with tasting included. Built atop a rocky outcrop, the winery offers amazing views of the vineyards located within rocky hillsides with mineral-intense, well- draining soils that create high-quality grapes.
After the visit, enjoy a cycling tour along lost trails within the hills of Garzon that will take us to the sleepy town where we will visit the main square, chapel and train station.
Suggested lunch (not included) at “El Garzon” restaurant (owned by the renowned Argentinean chef, Francis Mallman). After lunch, transfer back to the town of Jose Ignacio. Length of tour: 6 hours.
The “Charrúas” were a group of Amerindians who lived in the territories of what is nowadays known as “Uruguay” and surroundings.
They offered tenacious resistance to the Spanish colonization and so over time the word "charrúa" acquired connotations of courage, strength, fierceness, warrior pride and victory in the Uruguayan culture. Whatever we described as “charrúa” means “part of our roots as a country and nation.
Enjoy a full day in the area of the “Garzon” lagoon, the way the “Charrúas” would! Your host will lead you to our “secret day camp”. Uruguayans love to grill their “asados” (barbecues) everywhere – at home, at the beach or in the middle of nature; and we love to do it “our own way”: with wood and sometimes even on the floor, so we carry our “parrillas” to wherever we go and “camp” for the day enjoying what nature has to offer in secret special spots! You will be able to enjoy the lagoon with our canoes or stand up paddle boards, and you will be fascinated by the landscape that surrounds you!
After enjoying a typical lunch, you will have time for a well-deserved “siesta” on one of our hammocks or enjoy a horseback ride along the forest, beach or lagoon. The day finishes with a typical “merienda” (afternoon tea) including a “mate” tasting, typical “bizcochos”, tarts and biscuits.
(Includes specialized guide, necessary equipment for the activities, picnic or bbq lunch and typical Uruguayan “merienda”) Length of tour: 6 hours.
The experience begins at Viña Eden located on the rocky outcrops of Pueblo Eden and the panoramic Route 12, an exceptional place where wines combine the climate of the hills and freshness of the Atlantic ocean.
Enjoy a tasting of the Eden Wines including a Chardonnay, a typical Tannat Reserva and the Cerro Negro wine. Continue onto the area of Pueblo Garzon, a small and picturesque village just 30 minutes from José Ignacio, where time seems to have stopped.
More than 400 hectares of olive trees and vineyards surround the village, making it the "Uruguayan Tuscany", where important mills and wineries have been installed in recent years. Visit Bodega Garzon and enjoy a tasting of their most characteristic wines followed by an unforgettable lunch overlooking the vineyards. Full-day tour.
Join one of our local chefs in a culinary experience coordinated in a private format (by reservation only), for those interested in going beyond mere tasting.
The experience takes place within an informal atmosphere, accompanied by a glass of good wine and soon the class becomes a good excuse to meet new friends and learn about the traditional local products of Uruguay such as the Butia, Dulce de Leche, Olive Oil, the Uruguayan cuts of meat and other typical local ingredients.
Participants will be able to prepare the main course of the proposed menu (the menu is pre selected by our chef taking into consideration the food restrictions and personal taste of the participants ) or the complete menu according to the interest of the group. It includes all the ingredients, equipment and guidance of our local chef! Duration of the activity: 4-6 hours.
Enjoy a horseback riding tour overlooking the shores of the Lagoon or along the Atlantic coast.
Your host will introduce you to our horses and help you choose the one you will ride! The horse is an integral part of nature, and its passage doesn’t disturb the environment around us, so there is a big chance of seeing a great variety of birds, armadillos, capybaras, foxes and even deer that live upon the native forests of the area.
You will ride cross country along private trails which belong to the estancias located nearby, sand dunes along the coast of the ocean or along the local lagoon. (Includes specialized guide, snacks, water, horse and necessary equipment. The average riding time is 2 hours but this may be adapted to clients’ skills and interests). Length of tour: 2 hours.
Enjoy a horseback riding tour along the countryside, ocean and unspoiled coastal lagoons.
The horse is an integral part of nature and its presence does not disturb the environment around us, so we will have many possibilities to see armadillos, foxes, hares, skunks and many different species of birds, such as flamingos, herons, the typical “tero” and “chajá”.
We will ride cross-country along private trails bordering the coastal strip of the lagoon reserve of Laguna Garzón. We will reach the last corner of the Province of Maldonado, where the territory becomes the Province of Rocha and we will cross the sand dunes and gallop to the rhythm of the waves bordering the west arm of Laguna Garzon, known as "La Lengüeta".
On arrival to the protected area "El Caracol", we will enter the forest by a trail of “acacias”, cactus and local native plants before arriving to our destination where the fire pits will be burning under the stars.
Enjoy an unforgettable dinner under the moonlight within the middle of the forest and with the noise of the waves, which reminds us that the sea is only a few meters away. (Includes specialized guide, refreshments, water, horses, saddlebags, dinner with flavored waters and wine.). Duration of the experience: 4 - 6 hours.
The celebration of the full moon means to connect oneself with the harmony of the universe and the cycles of nature.
It has been proved that the moon affects the earth, its climate and tides and therefore, has great influence on people as we are 60% water. The moon symbolizes fertility, birth and wealth. Every full moon, throughout the year, we invite you to join us on a memorable evening that combines food, tastings and horses.
The reflection of the moon on the lagoon or ocean is an amazing spectacle and the sky, full of bright stars, seems within reach. We will light up the fire pits and share the magic and adventure of a very special night always including good and fresh gastronomy according to the season of the moon we are celebrating.
It is an unforgettable night which is held each moon, throughout the year. (Includes host, activity and gastronomy organized for each occasion). Length of tour: 3 hours. Available: Every full moon year round; please ask for dates, program and availability.
Shivani, our yoga instructor, awaits you to experience an intense session of yoga during the morning or afternoon.
However, in Anastasio, the intensity does not rely on the rhythm of the asanas or their difficulty; in Anastasio, the intensity is supplied by nature. Amid the countryside and the lagoon, we built our yoga deck which descends down to the water of the lake, where all your senses will be stimulated to enjoy your yoga practise connected with everything around you.
We warm up, we begin with the first postures and salute the sun; we repeat the seri es several times and then comes the moment of meditation… There’s no need for chanting mantras because, at that very moment (as if on cue), a flock of birds flies overhead and serenades us with the perfect melody.
Our breathing melds with the moment and we’re at peace in the middle of nature. (Includes a one-hour class of Loknath Yoga, a traditional method from India practiced by Mahayogi Shri Shri Baba Loknath Brahmachari who reached Moksha.
The class is given on our wooden deck next to the lake by our registered yoga teacher who studied in India at the Shri Shri Baba Loknath Brahmachari Mahamandal Ashram. Length of Class: 1.5 hours.
Yoga SUP has emerged as an alternative that combines the best of yoga and paddle boarding.
Those who practice it claim to feel a closer connection with nature and an additional challenge to practicing yoga on land. Now we understand why the yoga deck goes down into the water… we’re about to venture some aquatic asanas. SUP Yoga is much more demanding than a regular yoga class.
The board doesn’t lie: it wobbles if you don’t distribute your weight evenly and it’s necessary to focus on your balance point without distractions.
Once you master these aspects, the experience becomes unique: the sky becomes your support, the lagoon becomes your infinite horizon and suddenly you are part of everything around you. Length of Class: 1.5 hours. Includes Yoga instructor and paddle board.
Enjoy a local afternoon art tour starting in the area of Punta Ballena, where we will visit the intriguing Casapueblo, designed by Uruguayan artist Carlos Paez Vilaró on a cliff over the Atlantic.
After visiting the museum located within this spectacularly-designed property on the hillside, we will continue onto the Ralli Museum of Punta del Este, the first of five Ralli museums operating in the world.
Especially designed and planned to house a museum, this building of more than 6.000 square meters, boasts one of the most important collections of Latin American art in the world, as well as works by renowned European artists.
After visiting a local artist´s studio and or art gallery (depending on the guests´ interests) in the area of La Barra , we will continue onto the Atchugarry Foundation, a nonprofit institution created in 2007, by the sculptor Pablo Atchugarry with the intention of encouraging the arts and to create a meeting place for artists of all disciplines, an ideal area for the union between nature and art.
After a local typical “merienda” we will drive back to Jose Ignacio. Tour includes transport, private guide, entrances to all museums and typical merienda. Length of tour: 5 hours.
Enjoy a visit to the Atchugarry Foundation and park of sculptures, a nonprofit institution created in 2007, by the renowned sculptor Pablo Atchugarry with the intention of encouraging the arts and to create a meeting place for artists of all disciplines, an ideal area for the union between nature and art.
After a local typical “picnic” we will drive back to Jose Ignacio.
Tour includes transport, private guide, and picnic. Length of tour: 3 hours.
The tour begins with a visit to the Atchugarry Foundation, a non-profit institution created in 2007 by renowned sculptor Pablo Atchugarry with the intention of promoting the arts and creating a meeting place for artists from all disciplines.
After touring the sculpture park, we will enjoy a picnic and meet a local artist who has been recognized by UNESCO with the Award of Artisan Excellence. Luis Alberto Gutiérrez has dedicated his life to the creation of leather sculptures inspired by local popular elements such as our famous "Tango", our "Murgas" and "Candombe" (both elements of the Uruguayan Carnival) and the figure of Gaucho.
Learn about the art of working with leather and participate in the creation of an emblematic sculpture. With the guidance of Alberto, feel the leather in your hands and witness the birth of a new creation!
Enjoy a visit to the area of Punta del Este.
The tour starts with a visit to the intriguing “Casapueblo”, a spectacular property on the hillside over the Atlantic Ocean which was designed and built by the renowned Uruguayan artist Carlos Paez Vilaró. Visit the “Mansa” beach and discover the pirate tales of the area known as “Las Delicias” located in front of the “Gorritti Island”.
Punta is rapidly becoming a top resort city. Long popular with Argentines and Brazilians, this city is rising in sophistication and is attracting an increasingly international clientele. You will visit the main attractions including the marina and port which is usually frequented by the massive sea lions (lunch suggested in this area).
The tour will then continue onto the undulated crazy bridge of La Barra; this area is famous for its antique shops, local craft shops and charming atmosphere, very similar to its “twin” village “Manantiales which you will visit some kilometers ahead.
The tour ends with a visit to the Atchugarry Foundation and sculpture park where you will enjoy a typical “Uruguayan merienda”. (Tour includes transport, guide, entrances to museums and typical “Uruguayan merienda”). Length of tour: 6 hours.
Enjoy a great day on board a boat that will cruise you along the Punta del
Este Bay known as “Las Delicias” where Pirate ships used to stop to rest or hide from other pirates. If climate allows, you can choose to pay an extra fee to reach the “Sea Lions Island”, a natural reserve located only 6 miles from the Peninsula of Punta del Este and which constitutes one of the largest populations of sea lions in South America.
Disembarkation at this island is not authorized due to preservation issues but you can swim into the water and have the unique opportunity to swim with the sea lions.
If wind does not allow to navigate to the sea lions island (which involves navigating into open ocean, we will stay in the bay area).
The tour includes paddle boards to go to the Gorritti island. After a stop for a picnic and swim, we will head back to the port. (Tour includes yacht, English guide, sailors and picnic) Length of tour: 3 hours.
Morning drive to the small Village of Valizas (1.5 hour drive) where your trekking to Cabo Polonio will start!
Trek across the amazing sand dunes, to this small Village where one of the largest colonies of sea lions of South America can be found. Completely isolated from the nearby towns by a big strip of Sand dunes, Cabo Polonio remains loyal to its charm and spirit!
This marvelous 4-hour trekking will take you from the middle of the dessert to experiencing breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean. A life time experience that you cannot miss! Length of tour: 9 hours.
Tour includes transport to Valizas, specialized guide, snacks and water, boat crossing at the Valizas Stream and 4x4 SUV monster trucks ride out of the town. Visit to the lighthouse and sea lions reserve. Lunch not included.