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Undiscovered Uruguay

Carmelo, Uruguay
(4 Days / 3 Nights)

Day 1
Catch your morning ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia, Uruguay. Wave goodbye to the city skyline and head out to “sea” on the placid Rio de la Plata. After a one-hour journey, disembark in Colonia del Sacramento, a 17th-century Portuguese stronghold. Meet your host to immerse yourself in the twisting series of narrow, cobblestone streets and hear the fascinating history behind this region of Uruguay. Wander along the gentle river where ships bob in the soft tidal waves. Break for lunch at a favorite local spot off the Plaza de Armas with eclectically decorated walls, an open kitchen, fridges painted with elephants, and a vintage car. Savor some of their delicious tapas or Mediterranean style cuisine with local wines.

Drive an hour up the coast to the quiet country town of Carmelo. Tucked away in an unknown corner of Uruguay on the shores of the Río de la Plata, check into your riverside paradise with spacious bi-level suites and bungalows surrounded by the sweet-smelling pine and eucalyptus forest. Upon arrival, sip the sweet cinnamon and apple tea by a roaring fire in the main lodge. Sunset on the Colonia coast is not to be missed as the sinking, orange sun melts into the horizon in a myriad of purple and pink hues. Luckily, you’ve got front row seats for the show. (Four Seasons Carmelo)

Day 2
Today is yours to unwind and let modern life be far, far away. The house rules are kicking back and taking time for yourself. Tee off on their golf course, one of the finest in Uruguay. Go for a horseback with the gauchos in the verdant hills. Set off on a sunset cruise to explore the River delta. Destress and detox in the Balinese-style spa. (Four Seasons Carmelo)

Day 3
This morning, travel just up the road to visit a “recycled” estancia and working farm making artisan foods. Start by visiting the tambo, dairy farm, to learn how they make their delicious Parmesan-style aged cheese. After, visit their new winery project, housed in the estancia’s restored wine cellar from 1909. Now consulting with a well-known French winemaker, understand the nuances of growing wine in Carmelo and taste some typical wines with their winemaker like the sweet bubbyly called medio medio. Lunch in the estancia’s brick-walled rural restaurant with brick walls, tall wooden shelves and a homey yet sophisticated feel. Sink your teeth into the house specialty, tender homemade pastas, handmade every day with some of the finca’s juicy wines. (Four Seasons Carmelo)

Day 4
This morning, check out of the hotel and meet your guide. Drive through the pastures towards the area where many Swiss and Italian immigrants settled to start small-scale dairy farms. First, stop to meet a passionate couple that makes Uruguay’s finest blue cheese. Walk through the process of making the cheese from milk, inoculating the bacteria, to aging and finally, sample the fruits of their labor.

Next, get to know another local artisan where she tends to her own grass-fed cows for the best milk. Watch as she demonstrates how the milk is transformed into the soft sardo, Colonia, and danbo cheeses followed by a tasting on her chirpy terrace. After, catch up with a friend whose focus is on goats and their creamy milk. This lone cheesemaker makes her own quark, a tangy spreadable cheese; feta-style cheese; and firm cheese. Utterly delicious.

Last stop is an organic farm making nutty sheep’s milk cheese that is aged like Manchego. See their tambo to learn how sheep’s milk cheese is made and aged in their cellar. After, sit down to full tasting of the cheeses and cured meats for a light lunch in the restored farm house built in 1880.In the mid-afternoon transfer back to Colonia and take the ferry back to Buenos Aires. Buen viaje.