Located in northern Uruguay, the protected nature area of Lunarejo Valley looks like nowhere else in Uruguay. And it’s the perfect place for hiking in Uruguay, in part thanks to its proximity to southern Brazil and mild microclimate. Hiking in Lunarejo is all about rolling hills, narrow rocky valleys, gorges, rock caves, waterfalls, and lush vegetation.
The Valle del Lunarejo (in Spanish) is home to a wide diversity of plants (including a natural “viagra” 🤓) and animals found nowhere else in Uruguay. You can spot over 150 species of birds, including some unique to the area. Other wildlife includes amphibians, reptiles, and mammals such as coatis, wild boars, and wild cats.
Villa Pancha Lunarejo is the closest accommodation to the entrance to the valley, literally 5 minutes by car. Choose a self-contained “lodge” or cabin—and see a billion of stars from your bed—with private kitchen and bathroom. Or tipis which share a large kitchen and bathroom unit. There’s a central dome for socialising with an open fireplace and games. Every cabin or tipi has a private deck and firepit for grilling or just to watch the flames at night.
The owner of Villa Pancha is a local boy from nearby Tranqueras. Juan moved to Montevideo and founded a successful software company. Every time he drove home along the red roads he was filled with the desire to buy some land and turn it into a place where people from out of town could enjoy one of Uruguay’s most remarkable landscapes—and savour local services and products. Villa Pancha, which prides itself on providing employment opportunities for locals in this very far-flung part of Uruguay, came to life in honour of his father.
What you should know
Lunarejo is one of the best places to go hiking in Uruguay Uruguay does not have many trails in the interior so take advantage and do several hikes over a few days. You must go with a guide as Lunarejo is private land. Book your trails on their website (see below).
For independent travellers There is no reception or onsite staff though they can be reached by WhatsApp. Everything is digitalised from the booking system to your code to enter your lodge or tipi.
Choose weekdays for cheaper rates and the likelihood of being the only guests.
Accommodation is simple but well-equipped and pristine. The lodges have kitchens and bathrooms. The tipis and motorhomes share bathroom and cooking facilities.
No need to stock up in advance Villa Pancha says that you can come with just a toothbrush. All linens and towels are provided. You can order breakfast, lunch and dinner in advance. A home-cooked meal—choose lunch and dinner from four country classics including one vegetarian option—can be popped into the fridge for you to heat up and enjoy on the deck. Plan to cook for yourself? Vacuum-packed local produce is available for grilling. Essentials can be found at two small country grocery stores five minutes walk away. A B&B also five minutes walk away has a restaurant (see VP website). But do stock up on wine!
Very helpful website The Villa Pancha website is a mine of information. Use it to order onsite meals for the next day, book hikes and horse-rides, find other eating options close by including the address of the closest pub (12 km away). There’s even a Villa Pancha playlist.
Good internet Juan has prioritised this (as you might expect) to ensure that Villa Pancha works for digital nomads.
Facilities for motorhomes including provision of potable water, electricity and access to the shared kitchen and bathroom.
How to get to Valle del Lunarejo
By car It’s an easy drive from Montevideo along Ruta 5 taking just over six hours.
Train There are few trains in Uruguay nowadays however there is a daily train weekdays between Rivera and Tacuarembó which stops at Tranqueras, the closest town to Villa Pancha (12 km away). Check in with Villa Pancha for their advice.
Bus The Villa Pancha homepage names all the buses that descend on Villa Pancha from different towns across Uruguay.
Click to enlarge gallery
Things to do at or near Villa Pancha Lunarejo
Hiking, horseriding and bird watching in Lunarejo Valley Book up to five hikes between 2-6 hours each with local guides
Visit the Brazilian border and the cities of Rivera (in Uruguay) and Santana do Livramento (walk into Brazil)
Experience Uruguay’s Gold Rush at Minas de Corrales (1 hour drive)
Experience life on a Uruguay farm at Finca Paraíso Escondido (2 hours drive).
Valle del Lunarejo, Rivera Department, Uruguay
Phone and WhatsApp +598 92 8947 88
Lodges Mon-Thu 90 USD | Fri-Sun 130 USD
Tipis Mon-Thu 40 USD | Fri-Sun 50 USD
RVs 30 USD per day
Prices per night based on double occupancy. Consult for discounts on weekend stays.
Photos: Villa Pancha Lunarejo