RTW #94, Valizas & Cabo Polonia, Uruguay
[06/05/2015] After a quick stop in Uruguay’s capital of Montevideo, I made my way to Barra de Valizas and hiked about 9km along a beautiful empty beach towards isolated Cabo Polonio, only accessible by walking or taking a 4×4 beach over an offroad track.
Cabo Polonio was an absolute must on my short Uruguay trip. The pictures that you see online do not impress much, but luckily I have heard some really good stories from fellow travelers and was very happy to have made the journey myself in the end. It all started in Barra de Valizas, a small sleepy town about 4km east of Montevideo and perfectly situated on the road leading towards Brazil. I checked in to a pretty weird AirBnb place and woke up early for an absolutely breathtaking sunrise the next day.
With the sky turning orange and buildings partly buried in the ever changing sand dunes, the stage was set for something so beautiful that it is hard to put in words. My pictures can’t show how magical it felt to walk out on the sand towards the ocean with the most amazing colors turning the little village and sand into a scene straight out of a dream. Soon after the sun popped up perfectly over the ocean and I was finally good to grab some breakfast before my long hiking day would start.
With my tummy filled and some snacks packed up, I was ready to head off to 9km distant Cabo Polonio. The trek is pretty easy to follow: Just stay at the beach and follow it until you eventually see a lighthouse popping up in the distance. First though, I had to cross that huge river right at the beginning and the only way to get through is to wade it when the tide is not too high. I got pretty wet in the process but quickly dried out again when I decided to jog the first km of the hike.
Running along the beach, I wanted to make things a bit more interesting and decided to head onto the sand dunes which basically start right from the beach. Walk in for a few minutes and you won’t see the ocean anymore, making you feel as walking through a big desert! I loved how quickly you can get in a new environment here and started to run up and down the dunes, eventually running out of breath. Fortunately, I arrived at some interesting rock formations coming out of the sand which provided a nice motive for some pictures during my break.
I was headed back towards the ocean again afterwards to look out for the first signs of Cabo Polonio and it didn’t take long to see the little settlement and it’s unmistakable lighthouse in the distance. Even though I could see my target, I was still miles away from it and enjoyed the long walk along the beach, slowly getting closer and closer. Eventually, I made it to little backpacker & hippies haven, full of hostels and coffee shops and very relaxing vibes. Most of the crowd here just drives in with the expensive 4×4’s you can hire and then just chill out.
I spent a good amount of time checking out every corner of Cabo Polonio and saw endless graffiti covered walls, lovely decorated houses and inviting hostels. Not too many people were actually walking around here and I am assuming that most are recovering during the day and come out at night to socialize. My home for tonight was Barra de Valizas though as I wanted to hitchhike towards Punta del Diablo in the afternoon, so I started to walk back the same 9km along the beach and made it back just in time for sunset. It was already completely dark by the time I walked out to the mainroad and I had to hitch a ride in darkness, which luckily worked pretty easily thanks to the flash light I could point in my face on the absolutely dark road. I arrived in Punta del Diablo at 21:00 and was ready for my last Uruguay chapter to begin…
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