The Laguna de Castillos is 15 kilometers south of the city of Castillos, east of Uruguay. It is part of the Bañados del Este (East Marshes) Biosphere Reserve, declared by UNESCO. It also integrates the Bañados del Este Ramsar site. It has been designated as an Important Area for Bird Conservation due to its ornithological importance.
Wetlands, ocean, stream, forests and palm groves
The Laguna de Castillos is one of the most dazzling lagoons of Rocha; 8 thousand hectares make up this water mirror, whose maximum depth does not exceed 5 meters. It connects with the Atlantic Ocean through the Arroyo de Valizas. This stream has an open and closed regime of its sandy bar at its mouth, allowing periodically the entry of sea water into the lagoon, which produces changes in the salinity and transparency of its waters, allowing the development of a wide biological diversity.
The zone of the lagoon has different wetlands, and next to it you will find the greater Monte de ombúes of del Plata region, as well as palm groves.
Ecotourism on the shores of Castillos Lagoon
To the north of the lagoon, and within the protected area, we can find Barra Grande, a tourist establishment traditionally dedicated to extensive livestock farming. This property receives the contribution of all the waters of the North of the lagoon basin, so in a short journey you can see a variety of ecosystems: meadows, ceibal trees, albardón forest and marshes.
On the shores of the lagoon is the estancia Guardia del Monte, declared a historical heritage, bordered by the Monte de ombúes, where its historic main house is located. There are many attractions and activities that can be done, such as bird watching, guided tours of the indigenous forest, canoeing, sport fishing, horseback riding and car rides.
Recommendations for a better panoramic view
At km 246 along route 9 you can see one of the best postcards of the Laguna de Castillos and the Atlantic Ocean in the background. A little further on, at km 251, a 6-kilometer road takes you to the top of Cerro Agapito (Agapito Hill), which offers a panoramic view of the lagoon and the Cuchilla Carbonera. In km 256 extends a wide ceibal tree area, where the Uruguayan national flower grows, the ceibo, ideal to go when these trees are in flower, in spring and summer. One of the several palm corrals can be seen on km 257.
Activities in the lagoon
Habitat of 256 species of registered birds, being the sighting one of the most practiced activities there. Among the birds we can see: southern flamingo, dragon, big white widow, stork, black-necked swan, ñandu/rhea, black heron, chajá, eagle, snail hawk. A viewpoint, located at the union of the lagoon with the Arroyo de Valizas, offers a perfect space where to calmly spot the species. To this activity is added the observation of native animals, which is why this place was given the category of "Wildlife Refuge". Foxes, skunks, weasels, wild cats, capybaras, otters, among others.
In addition you can tour the Monte de ombúes, go horseback riding on the edge of the lagoon or explore the water in kayaks or canoe.
Hunting of animals, camping and lighting fires is prohibited.