Tours and Activities:
A Ride Around Fray BentosMarcelo SolaMarcelo Sola
We discovered the coast landscape of this beautiful region on a sailing boat. We sailed along the Gualeguaychú and Uruguay Rivers up to the district of Fray Bentos, located in charrúa lands.
“A very good way to get to know the natural environment is by navigating the calm waters of the Gualeguaychú and Uruguay Rivers on a sailing boat to see Libertad Island and the spectacular landscape of the coast, until we reach Fray Bentos in Uruguay” ― said Verónica, the owner of Ahoniken Turismo. The invitation was quite tempting, so we accepted it.
Verónica made all the necessary arrangements by phone and we headed for the local pier in order to start the ride. The clear sky, the bright sunshine and the calm waters announced a quiet day out in the river.
Felipe Tommasi, coordinator of the voyage, and a group of enthusiasts who, just like us, did not want to miss the opportunity of going on the excursion were waiting for us at the pier. We were introduced to Nicolás, Pedro, Daniel and Pablo, with whom we would share one day on board the sailing boat called Warrior.
Fortunately for us, Felipe had more than 30,000 sailing miles and had taught sport sailing for several years and worked in the rendering of nautical services in Argentina and Brasil. Some of the expeditions made by these 33-year-old man are recorded in important navigation books, such as the route from Comodoro Rivadavia to Spain and back and the “Southern Route Expedition”, during which he sailed more than 4,500 miles in a 21-foot hobiecat across the southern waters of the Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia, crossing Cape Horn and ending the tour in Rio de Janeiro, to mention some of his most outstanding exploits.
Discovering the Gualeguaychú
We set sail. With the digital camera ready to capture the most attractive images of the Argentinian and Uruguayan littoral, I let myself be captivated by the magic of the ride.
The sailing boat on which we were traveling was 6 meters long and its keel and rudder could be lifted out of the water, something quite unusual in this kind of craft. The Warrior had a cabin with a bunker bed and a bathroom and offered sailors lunch with drinks included.
After a few kilometers, we said good-bye to the city and began to discover the Gualeguaychú little by little.
We passed off the northern waterfront and came across Libertad Island. Picturesque private residences, a nautical sports center and an excellent bathing resort give shape to this beautiful spot. General Urquiza would meet the representatives from Brazil and Uruguay here while he was organizing his campaign against Juan Manuel de Rosas.
Ahead, the river opened up and we saw the horizon in the very place where its waters merge with the Uruguay River, after 16 kilometers.
Before reaching the Naval Prefecture post, where we carried out the migration proceedings, we were joined by the sailing boat called “Soli”, which was larger and had a more powerful engine. I witnessed to the comradeship among the people who enjoy this kind of hobbies; polite greetings and questions did not take long to be pronounced.
The excursion itself is an adventure. This kind of ride is ideal to get away from the city and listening to the sound made by the herons that flutter around the area after sailing for only 15 minutes.
A Red Sunset
Felipe, who is a specialist, let us take shifts to lead the helm. Afterwards, he gave us a lecture about tying sailors' knots and by then we ralized we were passing by the international bridge.
To port, a dredger that had run aground caught our attention. “A rough storm made it capsize”, Felipe told us. He knows everything that happened in the area when it comes to sailing and shipwrecks.
The sun was setting and I could spot the first lights of Fray Bentos in the distance. A soft breeze stroked the banner at the Gualeguaychú Nautical Club and made it flutter gently. The waters of the Uruguay were dyed in pink and the first stars began to pop up in the sky.
Those were the same stars that long ago pointed the route to the first explorers who searched for the precious entrance to El Dorado on their tiny ships.
The entrance to the Fray Bentos harbor was as quiet as the rest of the voyage. We moored the boat and touched solid ground. We went for a walk with all the group and, with a curious look, we watched the thousand things this city has to offer.