Uruguay: The Atlantic: Punta and La Barra
With a year-round population of about 7,000 that climbs to over 500,000 during the summer months, Punta del Este is the epitome of exotic sophistication. An hour-and-a-half by car from Montevideo, Punta del Este is famed for its scenic coasts and beautiful beaches, and La Barra for its hip summer crowd.
Check into a beautiful, antique-filled posada, located along a quiet side road in La Barra. The innkeeper is an antique shop owner as well, and the posada boasts stylish design, large, comfortable rooms, a communal table for meals, a library jam-packed with books, and a tranquil outdoor area.
This afternoon, you will be driven around the Harbor Marina, where you will board a fine sailboat. Navigate around Maldonado Bay, enjoying fabulous views of Punta del Este. Next, sail up to Isla de Lobos, a natural reserve five miles off the coast with the largest colony of sea lions in the western hemisphere. Depending on the weather, water clearance, and temperature, you may scuba dive and snorkel in the surrounding waters. Sail to Gorriti Island with its fabulous white sand beaches, before enjoying a Uruguayan barbeque and drinks on board. Return to the harbor after a breathtaking sunset at sea.
After a breakfast of fresh breads and croissants, you will be picked up at the hotel and driven to the Sierras, arriving at one of the most wonderful trekking sites in the country, Sierra de Las Animas. The second highest peak in the country at only three miles high (Uruguay is a largely flat country), the hike to the top is easy enough for beginners yet interesting enough for experts, with fabulous views that look over unique wildlife and vegetation.
You’ll have a picnic lunch at the top and continue on to the other side of the Sierra to visit the Pozos Azules (Blue Lagoons). Return to the hotel this afternoon with ample time left to rest before dinner.
This morning, you’ll discover Punta del Este on a mountain bike as you ride the area’s hidden trails. You’ll spend the afternoon horseback riding the tranquil beaches of Jose Ignacio. At the time of a full moon, your ride will be arranged at night to show you the views of the incredibly large moon reflected in the sea.
This morning, you will be picked up at your hotel and driven to a small village and protected natural area within which no cars are allowed. The final outpost on the edge of a rugged frontier, the village is famed for its beaches and scenic sand dunes that surround the area. Without electricity or running water in the few hundred houses of the town, residents are essentially cut off from the outside world, retaining a slow and laid back pace of life. Enjoy your tranquil surroundings and the distant howling of the sea lions sprawled across the rocks that line the coast before heading back to your hotel for the evening.
Transfer to the airport in Montevideo.
This is just the beginning.
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