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“Unforgettable experience”

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Estancia Guardia del Monte
Reviewed 17 February 2013

Staying at Guardia del Monte was one of the most amazing travel experiences my husband and I have ever had because we felt we were experiencing authentic Uruguay life in amazingly beautiful surroundings. The ranch house, dating from the mid-1700's, is set on a knoll surrounded by gently rolling cattle fields on three sides and the Castillos lagoon on the west side. Sitting on the porch watching the sun set over the lagoon was an unforgettable experience.

Alicia, the estancia owner, exudes warmth. She gently helped us structure our two days and nights at the ranch, first welcoming us with torta frita upon our arrival and then setting up a horseback ride with Carlos, the gaucho. The gentle horses took us near the lagoon where we saw roseate spoonbills, through an open field where the resident young cattle and horses greeted us, and through the ombue forest. On the second day Alicia took us for a walking tour through the ombue woods, explaining their unique features and how she is trying to foster the growth of more of these young and rare trees.

Dinners and breakfasts were superb, cooked using local ingredients and techniques. Cooking is done on a large wood-burning stove that was salvaged from a shipwreck off the coast in the 1800's. The second night we shared the dinner table with two other couples and conversation was lively thanks to a combination of the other guests' good English and a little of our Spanish.

Our comfortable room had a beautiful view over the rolling cattle fields, tiled floors and nice sized-bathroom. The silence in the middle of that ranch was wonderful.

This was Uruguayan hospitality at its best, and I highly recommended it.

  • Stayed: February 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank trehugr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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18 - 24 of 38 reviews

Reviewed 20 January 2013

Love this place, the estancia is beautifull, there is a lot of personal attencion, everybody is verry friendly. The horseriding was great, went 2 times for a long ride. The guide was verry willing to explain things. The surroundings is very special, the lagoon, forrest and wetlands. The room i stayed in was lovely. The value of wat you get for the money is good, it is worth every penny, lodging with full board and all the activity s including horseriding is 160 dollars per peron per day.

Cleo Dubbelaar
The Netherlands

  • Stayed: January 2013, travelled solo
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1  Thank Cleo D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 January 2013

The landscape was beautiful, the host has great knowledge about the local fauna and flora, unfortunately the cost of USA $250 per person a day did not match the experience of walking through the forest, accommodation and food. Also prices changed for the bottle of wine depending on the hosts flippancy and we were charged the same as other couples that went horse riding, which we did not get offered. Also no credit card facilities, the local bank does not take international cards and the property has no wi fi. Overall too expensive.

  • Stayed: January 2013
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2  Thank Lorijea
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 December 2012

Senora Alicia is the lovely resident-owner-hostess, of this historic hacienda nestled alongside an estuary filled with exotic waterfowl and a forest of Ombu trees that look as if they are from Tolkien's Middle Earth. I have been there on two separate occasions. My first trip there was part of a horse back tour of Uruguay. The interior and exterior ambiance combined with the charm and hospitality made it a place I just had to revisit with my wife. We celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary with a trip to South America which included this stop. My wife is not keen on riding horses, but she was willing to try so that she could get a better look at the wildlife and the flora. She was given a great horse for her skill level and she rode for more time on each of the 3 days that we stayed there. This location will seem as if you are visiting another world. You only live once...go stay with Senora Alicia while there is still time!

  • Stayed: February 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Rick L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 November 2012

I read good reviews of Estancia Guardia del Monte and wanted to fit it into my trip although I only had one day. I would recommend at least two days, but you can get a pretty full experience in just an overnight visit. I took the bus up from Punta del Este to Castillos where it was a 15 minute cab ride to the estancia. The ranch building has a lot of history and interesting period decorations and furniture. The rooms are basic but spacious and comfortable. You won't find any televisions, or hotel type amenities, this is a authentic country living with fresh air and sounds of the farm. There was no wifi, but they are installing a system so there may be in the future. Alicia and her staff are great and I enjoyed practicing my spanish in conversation about the history the estancia and the area, and the details of ranching in Uruguay. It is a working ranch raising primarily cattle and sheep. The horses are provided by local gauchos who bring in fresh rides each day. They will show how to saddle up the horse if you want to learn how to set up the unique gaucho style tack. I noticed the horses didn't have shoes, but the ground is so soft I guess they don't need them. The gauchos come long on the rides along with a guide. The guides were excellent in explaining the animal and plant life. The area is a wetlands so there are lot of birds. The horses are very easy to ride and well trained and taken care of. Generally they just walk along and sometimes trot, but you can get them to gallop a bit with a firm kick and shout. The guides explained to us how the gauchos work as a team with their dogs to drive the cows and we even had the chance to help herd and count the cows on the way home in the evening. That was a lot of fun and the horses really perked up when it was time to "go to work" they knew what to do! Although I was only there overnight I did a long ride in the afternoon/evening with the other guests till sunset and then a couple hour ride in the morning. If you are exploring the coast of Uruguay between Punta del Este and Punta del Diablo, this place is along the way and well worth the stop.

  • Stayed: November 2012, travelled solo
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1  Thank TripsterGuy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 March 2012

My friend and I loved our stay in this old beautiful estancia. We are not experienced horseback riders, so the goucho picked out gentle horses and took us on a 2 hour ride around the ranch, where we mixed with wild horses, cattle, sheep, and ostriches. A memorable experience. And the food was spectacular. Alicia gave us a long and very interesting tour of both the estancia and the grounds. This included the Ombu Forest, for which she is a caretaker, hence the name of the estancia, Guardian of the Forest. Her dedication to maintaining this place and the forest are truly remarkable. See the comcox review for everything else you need to know about this wonderful secluded spot.

  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled with friends
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2  Thank jillj29556
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 December 2011

We could not possibly say enough wonderful things about Senora Alicia Fernandez de Servietto's gracious sharing of her family's historical home in its remarkable natural setting on the Castillos lagoon along the rural coast of Uruguay. You truly are made to feel like a privileged guest here from your first welcome on the front porch with cold drinks after your long drive to your farewell from someone who, by the end of your stay, now feels like a family friend.

The oldest part of the building which dates from 1720 serves as the dining room, which opens out onto the front porch area with its comfortable sitting area and small tables. From the dining room you can enter the courtyard shaded by grape vines off of which are the doors to the few rooms offered to guests here at the Estancia. During our two-day stay we were the only overnight guests so we were assigned a double room to give us some extra space. One room contained a double bed and the other three narrow single beds. The bathroom was small with only a shower. We had plenty of hot water although not a lot of water pressure.

On the far side of the courtyard are the lounge areas which provide places to sit and read indoors as well as a display area with lots of books for this living museum. No matter how short your stay do not pass up the opportunity to have Alicia give you the history tour here. There are wonderfully reproduced maps of the area showing the history of the European conquest as well as other material detailing the story of this old "frontier guard post" and the abundance of nature, past and present. Alicia also took the time out to drive us to the protected Ombue Forest area on her land; it's the only surviving such original forest in the world. She also spoke about steps they are taking to preserve this unusual "tree" that is really a giant herb plant.

And now for the food which was as abundant as the nature around us. Indeed, we had to resort to beg for smaller helpings as there was so much at each meal. Our first meal was an authentic Uruguayan barbeque shared with three day visitors from Europe who had come to go horseback riding for the day. Even breakfast consisted of several dishes, many of which were cooked traditionally such as our morning "scones" baked on fig leaves and stone. Everything we ate was wonderful.

The Estancia Guardia del Monte offers so much to do. My husband is an avid bird watcher and he was thrilled with the variety of birds he saw here. We took several walks around the property (they have, I think, 600 hectares of land) and he also took a horseback ride out to the lagoon shore with the resident gaucho to see water birds including flamingoes, black swans and many others. They also offer canoeing and buggy rides as well. One warm morning I made good use of the hammock outside on the porch to read while being entertained by the resident puppy Peri who has a thing for attacking shoe laces.

The Estancia is a three and half hour drive from Montevideo but well worth every minute of that drive. It is truly a welcome refuge as well as a place for active exploration. Thank you Alicia for making our visit so memorable.

  • Stayed: November 2011, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank comcox
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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Additional Information about Estancia Guardia del Monte

Address: Ruta 9 | Palmar de Castillos, Castillos 27200, Uruguay
Region: Uruguay > Rocha Department > Castillos
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 3 Speciality Lodging in Castillos
Number of rooms: 10
Also Known As:
Estancia Guardia Del Monte Uruguay/Castillos

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