We decided to take a one day excursion with a local provider to two sites located about 90 minutes from Montevideo. The trip to Salto del Penitente (Waterfall of the Repentant) and Cerro del Águila (Eagle's Hill) is one of multiple excursions offered by Volate, some of which are geared toward 🌈 LGBT travelers. This particular tour turned out not to be a rainbow gang, but we didn't hold that against them! Note: you need to have a fairly good grasp of Spanish to fully enjoy this outing. You can also do the trip in a private vehicle at your own pace.
Setting out super early (07:30) we headed east on Route 8 toward the town of Minas and the Salus Natural Reserve. This is the site of the historic Spring of the Puma (Fuente del Puma) and is the bottling site of mineral water brand Salus. The reserve consists of 1,300 hectares of protected area, primarily intended to maintain the safety and quality of the spring water. Although you can visit the spring and walk around the grounds, a trek into the protected area is available only with a park ranger, which can be arranged through the reserve's website.
We then passed through the lovely town of Minas and continued for about 5 kms to the turnoff for Salto del Penitente. From there it's 11kms on a winding road up into the hills to the park (Parque Salto del Penitente). Depending on the season and day of the week, various activities are available, including swimming, horseback riding, and ziplining. Or just go to enjoy the view of the waterfalls and surrounding rocky landscape. There's a nice restaurant with a view of the falls as well as a stand serving nibbles. If you feel like staying overnight, there is a nice camping area (just watch out for the cow patties!)
If you're on your own, an optional extension to this itinerary would be to continue to Villa Serrana, a bit further east on route 8. It's a nice town in the hills offering wonderful views.