Uruguay travel itinerary: Gold, amethysts, hiking, horse riding, wine

Looking for things to do in Northern Uruguay? This travel itinerary will take you to places that no one else you know has been.
By Karen A Higgs
Uruguay travel itinerary: Gold, amethysts, hiking, horse riding, wine
Last updated on March 4, 2024
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Are you the kind of person who loves going to places that no one else you know has been? In that case, I’ve got to recommend this travel itinerary in northern Uruguay. Close to the border with Brazil, there’s amazing wildlife, hiking, horse riding and gold and amethyst mines.

Here’s a Uruguay travel itinerary in the North. The starting point is the Lunarejo Valley. It’s a six hour drive from Montevideo. Lunarejo Valley is one of Uruguay’s most outstanding protected areas. You can hike to waterfalls, horseride and spot over 200 types of birds and mammals. A great place to stay is under the stars at Villa Pancha. The reserve is private and you must go with a guide. Everyone loves El Gavilán—they offer treks, riding, and their guides are super knowledgeable.

You’re just an hour from Lunarejo to the Brazilian border. Day trip to the town of Rivera, which straddles the border, and don’t miss the Cerro Chapeu winery. It looks a bit like a spaceship and the winemaker Francisco Carrau has been named international Wine Legend by a British Master of Wine.

A couple of hours drive west also on the border lies Uruguay’s most norther department, Artigas—famous for sugarcane and amethysts. The amethyst mine safari is brilliant. Uruguayan amethyst is of the best in the world. One giant one was exported to Australia as a meditation chamber.

It’s very cool to pair the amethyst mine with visiting the site of Uruguay’s gold rush which started in 1820. Drive south east just two hours to Minas de Corrales. You can still see the ruins and try panning for gold. Stay at the Miner’s Inn which is well worth a visit in its own rights—it’s got a pool too for a bit of relaxation.

Finish your itinerary with a truly authentic Uruguay countryside experience you’ll remember forever. Just under two hours drive from Minas de Corrales lies a small farm run by a lovely woman. Stay for a few nights. The food is incredible, super regional. The sunsets over the sierras, the animals (kids love it), horse riding and walking… It lives up to its name Finca Paraíso Escondido, Hidden Paradise farm.

Whetted your appetite for adventure? 😄 Check out our Discover Uruguay page with suggestions for where to stay, food and drink, wine and wineries and things to do. And for way more information, way better organised, The Guru’Guay Guide to Uruguay 📖

Cover photo: Hiking in northern Uruguay

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