Excitement is a rule: we got on a truck and shook all the way till we were left off in the center of the village. While on the back of the truck, you can spot the tip, a few houses and the light house getting closer as we reach the beach. Near the light house we heard screams and what seemed to be a celebration. Curious, we headed for the noise and, to our surprise it was sea lions having a party. This is the place where they form harems, up to 13 females for each male. Contrary to what I thought, there is no lack of males, but many singles instead, for only the brave ones are allowed to have harems.
Frozen in time, the village has neither electric energy nor sanitation. It has become an environmental reserve where it is forbidden to build new houses; the few existing ones can only be reformed under local military authorization. The power cables we see along the way are designated for the military houses and the light house, all the others use kerosene, candles, solar panels or windmill. Only 65 people live there, but this number increases up to 2 thousand over the summer, and has reached 3 thousand with tourists who come to spend the day.
Sea lions, turtles, dolphins and whales, all gathered in the same place. In the summer, the reserve welcomes around 100 thousand sea lions. The franca whales show up between September and October, and you should stay at least 4 days if you want to see them. The village is also home to a variety of animals and vegetables, including the tiny Darwin’s frog, which only exists here.
The rock formations across from the light house form a few islands, and were responsible for several shipwrecks. Cabo Polonio has its name thanks to Captain Joseph Polloni, who was in the first shipwreck, back in 1735. Some of the boats can be seen buried in sand, according to the tides. The village was founded in 1870, and the light house dates from 1881.
Besides enjoying the beach, climb the light house and enjoy something different, there are also TRAILS for the green walkers: a group of local people take you to 4 circuits, which can last between 90 minutes and 6 hours. To see the dunes, which can be 230 feet high, a tour guide is not necessary – you just have to go to Valizas and walk 1.2 miles towards Cabo Polonio. For the sea lions, which is the shortest circuit, follow the signs next to the light house.
.I have always wanted to spend a couple of days there, but all I got was a one-day visit. Some say the thrill in a dark night is a fantastic experience; there are awesome parties and night trails in the full moon. Foreigners from all over fill the place, and even with a poor infrastructure, you can find good restaurants with trendy décor. I found out that Jorge Drexler, one of my favorite singers, wrote a song for Cabo Polonio – Segundos de Oscuridad. It is indeed a required tour if you go to the Uruguayan coast.
How to get there: from Chuy, take route 9 to Castillos, turn left on route 16 up to the crossroad with Aguas Dulces, drive straight ahead on route 10 until you see 4×4 vehicles. Park the car in a shady spot, buy the round-trip ticket for 150 pesos and get on the transportation for another 4.3 miles. There are cars every hour, until 8pm. In the summer there are more departures. It is 162 miles from Montevideo and 404 miles from Porto Alegre.
There are expensive restaurants and diners, if you plan to stay a few days it is better to pack up some food.
March is the best month, when the water is warm, the prices get lower and there are fewer tourists.
Camping is not allowed, there are inns and fishermen houses to rent. You can also stay more comfortably in Valizas, a neighbor city. Cabo Polonio is only a 2-hour walk through the dunes.
Translated by Lúcia Maciel
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