Pirates Beach, Rocha, Uruguay

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Having grown up in a beach area in South Carolina, I am always keen on visiting beaches around the world. Uruguay has some famous beach areas like Punta del Este, popular with Argentineans, and also some really nice natural beach areas like in Rocha, where we are horseback riding. When I imagined the gauchos of Uruguay, I didn't imagine that I would see them on the beach. Sure enough, Alexander, whose well-trained horses we were riding today, rode with me and guide Alejandro near the Brazilian border for the EquitrekkingTravel.com Uruguay Beach & Coastal Trail.

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I felt like I was exploring an unchartered territory, as we cantered through the shallow water on the shore. I was on a smooth Criollo horse, the native breed here in Uruguay and much of South America. We had ridden through an area of dunes down to the beach, where there were a variety of birds, besides seagulls for us to watch.

Alejandro pointed to the rocks jutting out of the sea in the distance, to show how dangerous the shores of Rocha have been throughout history. He told stories of shipwrecks and of the locals who have collections of goods taken from the wreckage. A lot of people in the area have pieces of furniture, tiles and other items taken from the wreckage. I guess that makes for an interesting conversation piece. Further down the beach, I could see the black top of a sunken submarine sticking out of the surf.

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We took a break in the inter-dune area to have lunch under the shade of palm trees. On these rides, the outdoor lunches are amazing. Alejandro's friend laid out sandwiches, beef, salad and fresh fruit on tables and a picnic blanket. We ate well, including tasting some delicious lemon pie, before heading to the Santa Teresa Fort (Fortaleza de Santa Teresa), which dates back to Colonial times.

Learn more about Equitrekking on PBS and the Equitrekking episodes on DVD and learn about exceptional equestrian vacations including Uruguay equestrian vacations at EquitrekkingTravel.com. Follow Equitrekking on Facebook and @Equitrekking and @DarleyNewman on Twitter.

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