A stay on a traditional Uruguayan working farm is a unique highlight of any visit to Uruguay. Estancias are a quintessential part of Uruguay’s character and identity.
Gauchos – a symbol of Uruguay
Despite its relatively small contribution in terms of GDP and employment, agriculture forms a large part of Uruguay’s exporting economy. Tiny Uruguay exports more beef than Argentina, a market now worth about US$1.5bn year. Meat and sheep farming occupies 60% of its land.
And with four times as many cattle as humans, the continued need for professional Gauchos – Uruguay’s cowboys – is obvious. Historically, a gaucho represented skill and bravery, with a reputation of being both noble and unruly. Although nowadays simply translated as a ‘countryman experienced in livestock farming’, the gaucho in its traditional sense remains a symbol of Uruguay.
Visiting a Uruguayan Estancia
A stay on a traditional estancia is an experience popular among foreign tourists. There are different options to choose from, ranging from large working farms to family-friendly tourist ranches.
Many estancias allow (and welcome) visitors to get stuck in with their daily work and experience life as a farmer or gaucho first hand. Others are places where you can relax, soak up the countryside and simply enjoy rural life. Some are more geared towards adventurous folk, whereas others are particularly welcoming to families with children.
Find an estancia to suit your needs
Estancias that are open to visitors can be found all over Uruguay. Many are dotted around the central part of the country, but there are also several estancias around Rocha, close to the popular tourist destination of Punta del Este.
What’s included in your stay also depends on each estancia, and often you can choose from different options. Some offer bed & breakfast, others full board meal options. Many farms offer optional activities like horse riding, tractor riding or canoeing.