The coastal-marine area Cerro Verde and Coronilla islands is located in the oceanic strip of the department of Rocha (next to the Santa Teresa National Park and very close to the town of La Coronilla), it is the first protected area of this category in Uruguay, declared as such in 2011. It includes Punta Coronilla, Cerro Verde (Punta Loberos) and the adjacent marine territory (up to 5 nautical miles from the coast), which includes the complex of oceanic islands. At the same time, it is part of the Bañados del Este (East Marshes) Biosphere Reserve (UNESCO).
The land portion covers almost 1,700 hectares and includes hillocks and plains associated with coastal dunes, gullies, rocky points, sandy beaches and different types of plant formations. The marine portion covers more than 7,000 hectares, including Isla Verde (the largest and closest to the coast) and La Coronilla.
How to get there?
One way to arrive at Cerro Verde is from La Coronilla resort, crossing the suspension bridge over the Andreoni canal, and then walking along the beach towards Santa Teresa 2 km until you reach Punta Coronilla, also known as "Las Piedritas". Once you cross that rocky point you walk 2 km more through a desert and paradisiacal beach of fine white sand until you reach the hill.
Flora and fauna
On Cerro Verde, with an elevation of 10 to 15 meters, you will find two ideal viewpoints to observe the flora and fauna of the environment, as well as the Islands of La Coronilla. From the Cerro you can enjoy turtles, whales, sea lions and coastal birds, mostly threatened species and priority for conservation.
Between the months of December and April it is easier to observe the green turtle (Chelonia mydas) when it comes to breathe to the surface. They are young individuals that feed on algae in the rocks of Cerro Verde and La Coronilla islands.
Southern Right Whale
The Southern Right Whale (Eubalaena australis) can be observed between July and November on the coast of Rocha. You will be able to identify them by their blowing in the form of "V" and their calluses in the head. They use this area for social interaction and mating. Currently about 256 individuals have been identified by the pattern of calluses.
Bottle nose dolphins
It is the coastal area of Uruguay with the largest number of bottle nose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Here you can see them feeding, socializing, moving. There are at least 40 individuals identified through photographs of the natural marks they have on the dorsal fin.
South American sea lion colony (Otaria flavescens) in La Coronilla Islands. Between 200 and 500 individuals inhabit there throughout the year, with summer being the season with more animals.
History and archeology
Places like Cerro Verde and El Pesquero La Coronilla are points of confluence to which human groups have come over time, either to take advantage of the available resources or to establish temporary settlements. Numerous archaeological sites are the testimony of human occupation in the area.
The materials recovered in excavated sites allow us to know some of the marine and terrestrial species that were employed for different uses. Marine mammals such as bottle nose dolphins and sea lions, fish such as black and blonde croaker and mollusks such as purple clam, and other terrestrial species such as tucu-tucu, appear along with remains of lithic and ceramic instruments giving an example of the populations that lived at least 2900 years ago in the area.
These rocky points are landmarks in the landscape, due to their prominent topography, visibility, character and presence. They are places that help to organize the space. The Cerro Verde is the terminal end of a great regional circulation road that connected the Atlantic coast with the continent: "the Camino del Indio"(the road of the native people).