The Sea Lions of Cabo Polonia
Cabo Polonia a little village located on a rocky point on the Atlantic coast of Uruguay is famous for its sea lions and for the fact that all the houses were built on Government owned land – by people who just decided to build there and enjoy the place (In Australia they are called “squatters”). The Government realised what was happening a few years ago and decided to put a stop to the rampant destruction of the beautiful landscape and banned any further building – although they allowed the existing houses to remain.
The result is a hodge podge of buildings dotted throughout the ‘town’ and a very relaxed and environmentally friendly group of people living there and maintaining the place. Sea lions and humans coexist very happily.
One of the reasons that Cabo Polonia is such a special place is because of it’s location. It is separated from the neighbouring town of Valizas by huge sand dunes and the only vehicular access is on an almost impassable 4 WD track through the national forrest and along the beach.
We based ourselves in La Paloma and were staying at a little pousada/hostel owned by a lovely young couple – Santiago & Letitia with 2 little kids and their Dad, Juan Carlos around to make sure all is well – and we met up with some fellow travellers who were keen to visit Cabo Polonia.
So, with the help of Santiago we made a plan to catch the local bus to the village of Valizas and walk to Cabo Polonia over the sand dunes, spend a few hours watching the sea lions do their thing and then catch the 4WD truck back to the highway where a friend of Santiago’s would pick us up and bring us back to La Paloma. Perfect!
Off we set – got the bus no problem – only that it stopped about fifty times along the 40 km journey to drop people off at their required destinations along the way and when it arrived at the entrance to the track leading to Cabo Polonia most of the remaining passengers got off to catch the 4WD truck the rest of the way.
We got to Valizas much later than we’d anticipated – but undaunted we set off towards the huge sand dunes…across the mouth of a river and upwards towards Cabo Polonia. It was stunning – the sand dunes are huge and beautiful with granite outcrops sticking out here and there and no one else in site. Our little group of intrepid travellers set out in the beautiful early afternoon sunshine and clear blue skies on our easy hour and a half walk to see the sea lions and the quaint little village.
After about 20 minutes we noticed some very black clouds building up in the distance and Ray – being the farmer’s son that he is, encouraged us to walk quickly because a storm was coming our way….Of course we ignored him and spent a long time taking photos and enjoying the natural beauty of the place. It is stunning – standing atop the sand dunes looking across the horizon or back towards Montevideo with a river snaking it’s way through the landscape – just gorgeous!
Anyway, we reluctantly left the top of the dune and made our way towards the Lighthouse we could see in the distance when it started to rain…lightly at first but after a few minutes it was bucketing down! We kept our heads down and continued walking towards our goal and after almost 3 hours trudging through the slush and the mush along the beach we finally made it to the outskirts of Cabo Polonia……….but where were the sea lions….. This is our reaction when we realised we were not going to get up close to a sea lion – as we thought we might
Even though our adventure did not quite turn out as we’d planned – we had a fantastic time. Our companions – Louise and Henrick from Sweden and Jannis and Kristina from Germany were great company and we laughed our way through it all! We caught a ride back to the main road in an open roofed truck – that had a piece of tarpaulin draped over the top to protect us from the pouring rain and howling winds…..it wasn’t very effective but we chatted and laughed with the other passengers all the way.
Adventures like this one are what makes travelling so much fun! We arrived back at the hostel cold and wet and we were all incredibly grateful for the lovely hot showers and dry clothes that awaited us.
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