The blue of the ocean, the green of the hills and the white of the sands mix in a colorful and wild landscape that characterizes the protected area of Cerro Verde and Islas de la Coronilla, natural jewels that the eastern Uruguayan province of Rocha is seeking to make available for tourism, albeit in a responsible way.
The coastal zone located some 300 kilometers (about 186 miles) from Montevideo and almost 30 km (19 mi.) from the border with Brazil has almost 1,700 hectares (about 4,250 acres) of land including hills and other areas consisting of seaside dunes, streams, rocky points, sandy beaches and local flora, such as the coastal scrubland of Cerro Verde.
It’s not easy to get there, thanks to the “heightened natural level” of the site, and it’s necessary to take a winding route through the hilly zone, along dirt and sandy pathways on all-terrain vehicles, to reach the area where several paths branch off to the inland hills and the coastal beaches.
“From the top of the hill, beyond the landscape and the Coronilla islands, one can also see the flora and fauna of the site, which is really marvelous,” Rocha provincial tourism director Ana Caram told EFE.
Cerro Verde includes portions of Uruguay’s Atlantic scrubland and it’s also one of the main habitats for the green sea turtles, a species in danger of extinction, particularly the younger animals, and there are also 10 nesting areas along the Atlantic Ocean, where the specialized Karumbe NGO has been doing intensive conservation work.
In addition, the area, which was made part of the National System of Protected Areas in 2011, has a marine zone covering more than 7,000 hectares (17,500 acres) that includes a complex of ocean islands like Isla Verde - the largest and closest to the coast - and Isla Coronilla.
“This protected zone has two emblematic areas: one of them is Las Piedritas, which is Rocha’s best fishing area and was the fifth best in the world at one time. It’s a place where you can even fish for big sea bass but which, at the same time, has incredible beaches,” Caram said.