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Patagonia

A Patagonian inn owner said, "When you go to Mar del Plata, you expect to find sand. And when you come to Patagonia, expect to find the wind—the wind is Patagonia." Its famous wind is only one memory travelers take away from a journey to this end of the planet. These plains are hemmed between glacier-blanketed Andes and an Atlantic coast laced with coves and islands sculpted by the wind and sea. It is a landscape that fascinated Charles Darwin.

Argentina’s Patagonia stretches from the Río Colorado to the Strait of Magellan. The grasslands are populated by grazing guanaco, trotting
ñandĂș and occasional herd of sheep. Throughout the year, flamingos paint scattered lagoons.

Few humans live in the hinterlands, preferring instead the coast. This is also the favored spot for penguins, sea lions, elephant seals, and scores of migratory birds. The cold waters are home to whales, dolphins and orcas.

Two major highways cut through the region. Ruta Nacional 3 follows the Atlantic seaboard, from Carmen de Patagones, the region’s oldest settlement, to RĂ­o Gallegos near the mouth of the Magellan Strait. Along the way are numerous nature reserves, like PenĂ­nsula ValdĂ©s, Punta Tombo, RĂ­a Deseada, Monte LeĂłn and the new Parque MarĂ­timo Costero Patagonia Austral. The highway passes through the Welsh Heartland, Puerto Madryn and Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina’s petroleum industry hub.

Not all the reserves are along the coast. The nation’s oldest national parks are along Ruta Nacional 40 hugging the Andean spine of Argentine Patagonia. Here are the little-visited Parque Nacional Perito Moreno and the famous Parque Nacional Los Glaciares, where trekkers hit the trails at El ChaltĂ©n and marvel at Glaciar Perito Moreno near El Calafate. Other major sports are fishing, skiing and snowshoeing.

The Welsh Heartland and Argentina's Ruta 3.







By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

06 Sep 2011

Best Hiking in Patagonia

Perito Moreno Glacier

103787The Perito Moreno Glacier is located in Los Glaciares National Park in the southwestern part of Santa Cruz province, Argentina. When it snows high in the Patagonian Andes, the snow and ice does not ...
Boating, Trekking, Hiking, National Park
El Calafate, Argentina

Miradores de los Cóndores y de las Águilas

133825The Miradores de los Cóndores and de las Águilas trails begin from the park office. At first, the main trail passes through the compound, to the trailhead to the left. The path then rises steadily ...
Hiking
El Chaltén, Argentina

Hiking in El Chaltén

133824The biggest attraction in El Chaltén is the wide web of hiking trails that weave around the base of the two giant massifs, Torre and Fitz Roy. There are three main circuits, each with a set of ...
Hiking
El Chaltén, Argentina

Lago Viedma

Eons ago, when the glacier Campo de Hielo began receding, it gouged the landscape to form Lago Viedma, halfway between El ChaltĂ©n and El Calafate. Cruise this lake’s icy waters to the foot of ...
Hiking
El Chaltén, Argentina

Lago Roca and Cerro Cristal

Lago Roca, a thin sliver of lake known for its fly fishing, lies within the national reserve section of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares. One kilometer (0.6 mi) past Huala campsite, you'll find Cerro de ...
Hiking
El Calafate, Argentina

Lago Toro Hike

The trail to Lago Toro, not to be confused with Laguna Torre, makes for a long, but relatively easy, hike. Starting at the signposted trailhead on the grounds of the national park headquarters, the ...
Hiking
El Chaltén, Argentina

Garganta del RĂ­o Fitz Roy

The relatively unknown Garganta del Río Fitz Roy--it makes infrequent appearances on most maps--is a short, easy trek. Starting in El Chaltén, the one-hour hike follows a path through lenga beech ...
Hiking
El Chaltén, Argentina

Laguna Capri Hike

This is an ideal trek if you've only got one day to hike. Just a simple two-hour trip (one way, 7 km / 4.2 mi), the trail to Laguna Capri begins north of town and has good signage, so no guide is ...
Hiking
El Chaltén, Argentina

Piedras Blancas Hike

The nearly two-hour Piedras Blancas hike is moderately difficult (12 km / 7.2 mi). The glacier views from its trail are well worth the effort. From Campamento Poincenot, a climbers-only campground, ...
Hiking
El Chaltén, Argentina

Laguna Azul

Out on the Patagonian steppe rises an ancient volcano whose rough, basaltic rim is studded with colorful lichens. Within its crater, Laguna Azul’s crystalline blue waters gleam under the sun and ...
Hiking
Near RĂ­o Gallegos, RĂ­o Gallegos, Argentina

Coziest Lodging in Chilly Patagonia

Rio Tarde Casa Patagonia

144183Sitting on the shores of the remote Lago Posadas, Rio Tarde is a family-run, newly-built hotel with beautiful views from its tower and terraces. Constructed mainly out of wood, the hotel has double ...
Hotel
Lago Posadas, Argentina

America del Sur Hostel

The first thing you’ll notice about Hostal America del Sur is the mountain of hiking boots piled at the door. Yes, this place has a shoes-off policy, but not to worry, the heated floors will keep ...
Hotel
El Calafate, Argentina

Rancho Grande Hostel

Rancho Grande is perhaps the largest backpackers’ hostel in El ChaltĂ©n. It features a restaurant-bar and offers free movies every night, which are open to the public as well. Dorm rooms are worn ...
Hotel
El Chaltén, Argentina

Albergue y Camping Lago del Desierto

Albergue y Camping Lago del Desierto is a good option for shoestring travelers. This large house has four-bed dorms with shared baths and six-bed dorms with private facilities. All seem clean enough. ...
Hotel
El Chaltén, Argentina

Albergue Hostel Pioneros del Valle

This gleaming new medium-sized backpackers hostel has six-bed dorms with private bath and lockers. The large, sunny kitchen/dining area merges with the common area, which has cable TV and free ...
Hotel
El Chaltén, Argentina

I Keu Ken Hostel

I Keu Ken Hostel touts itself as a traveler’s home away from home, a place to rest after a long stint on the road. This pleasant inn is in a quiet part of town, away from the bustle of the center ...
Hotel
El Calafate, Argentina

Colonial

135730A mid-range hotel, the Colonial offers clean, simply furnished rooms with cable TV to visitors coming to RĂ­o Gallegos. Some share a common bath and others have private water closets (though no ...
Hotel
RĂ­o Gallegos, Argentina

Hotel Patagonia

135733Hotel Patagonia is a modern, urban hotel in the heart of RĂ­o Gallegos. The spacious, glass-walled lobby is decorated with sleek, plush furnishings. Hotel Patagonia has all the services any type of ...
Hotel
RĂ­o Gallegos, Argentina

Hotel Covadonga

135732Hotel Covadonga has hosted RĂ­o Gallegos visitors for several generations. The lobby of this venerable hotel is hung with photographs of its almost-century-long life. As to be expected in a hostel ...
Hotel
RĂ­o Gallegos, Argentina

La Casona

In an old, dark-red tin house down near the seaside is comfortable La Casona. This inn has six rooms, all with TV and heater. Those chambers in the front have a bayview. Fix a light meal and hot ...
Hotel
Puerto San JuliĂĄn , Argentina

Hotel BahĂ­a

Hotel BahĂ­a is a modern hotel. On the outside its plain brick is accented by a large green bow window. On the indise of this inn, a large and airy lobby greets guests. A winter garden brightens drab ...
Hotel
Puerto San JuliĂĄn , Argentina

Top Places to Grab a Bite

Il Buon Mangiare

137477For years Don Tito ran a first-class restaurant in Buenos Aires. But the pace of the city tired him, so he decided to come to Caleta Olivia, looking for a slower, simpler life. He opened Il Buon ...
Restaurant
Caleta Olivia , Argentina

Comedor El Faro

137478Imagine your typical truck stop-cum-diner and you have Comedor El Faro. This café along the seafront costanera is tremendously popular with truckers, port workers, and everyday locals. Expect to ...
Restaurant
Caleta Olivia , Argentina

Restaurante Planeta Escuela

A stone\'s throw from the boardwalk, Restaurante Planeta Escuela is a pleasant bistro that prepares pizza a la piedra (pizza baked on a stone slab) and homemade pastas. It also prepares rabas ...
Restaurant
Las Grutas, Argentina

El Buen Sabor

In one of Perito Moreno’s classic buildings along the main street is El Buen Sabor. Sunlight floods through the tall windows, making the small space bright. Glass cases display the day’s ...
Restaurant
Perito Moreno, Argentina

El Rey Del Mariscos

If you’re in the mood for seafood, you’ll be served royally at El Rey de Mariscos. Fish, such as flounder, and red and white salmon, are prepared, as well as five styles of octopus, clams, giant ...
Restaurant
Las Grutas, Argentina

RotisserĂ­a Isadoro Quemeiquipan

RotisserĂ­a Isadoro Quemeiquipan is one of the cheapest places to eat in El ChaltĂ©n. This is a small hang-out with only two tables and several benches. But it doesn’t stop budget travelers from ...
Restaurant
El Chaltén, Argentina

Restaurant Aónikenk Chaltén

Meals at Restaurant AĂłnikenk ChaltĂ©n are a gastronomic event that won’t hit your wallet hard. Homemade pastas are prepared with interesting fillings like ricotta, nut and sweet pepper, and ...
Restaurant
El Chaltén, Argentina

The Shelter

The Shelter doesn’t have much on the menu, just pizza and empanadas. The empanadas are good, but people rave about the pizzas; locals say these are the best cheese pies in town. All are baked in a ...
Restaurant
El Chaltén, Argentina

Boccato

Boccato is yet another of El ChaltĂ©n’s fast-food take-out joints. The selection here includes tortas (calzones), milanesas, sandwiches and empanadas. You can get pizza by the pie or slice. Boccato ...
Restaurant
El Chaltén, Argentina

Pangaea

Pangaea has a very refined setting. Pastas are the main headliner on this bistro’s menu, starring stuffed varieties like sorrentino de cordero. Unlike other diners in El ChaltĂ©n, sauces are ...
Restaurant
El Chaltén, Argentina

Puesto Molino

135750You know you're in Puesto Molino when you enter. On one golden-colored wall is an old windmill. This entire large restaurant is entirely decorated with farm instruments and other rustic touches. In ...
Restaurant
RĂ­o Gallegos, Argentina
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