The multi-faceted, folkloric landscape is South America’s most thrilling frontier.
It’s hard to make sense of it all: breath-taking glaciers, sublime beaches, Alpine-like terrains, and sprawling deserts, all existing in one breath-taking region. Patagonia is nature’s playground — as if God pulled his best ideas and tucked it all in one place.
1. Tales of a creature in a melted glacier’s basin
The Island of the Jaguar possesses many curious wonders, overlooking a lake basin that was once a whole glacier. Locals would tell stories about a creature named Nahuelito thriving in its surface, but it was never found – only a cluster of many marine birds, including the Blue-eyed Cormorant, soaring above its channels.
2. Picturesque towns
This picturesque province of Rio Negro mimics the style of the Europeans, with chalet-inspired homes and many opportunities for skiing. Cool winds and precipitation arrive from the Andean Peaks, causing a vibrant Mediterranean and Oceanic climate. Perhaps that’s the reason why the town glows radiantly in the spring and summer seasons, with the colours reflected on the river.
3. Pristine lakes
Bright emerald trees of Alerce create a vibrant backdrop against the glistening blue waters of the Menendez Lake, which occupies a deep trough in a chain of waterscapes. Inside its bosom is a sprawling 7,000-hectare forest in Puerto Sagrario, considered a World Heritage Site for its grand assembly of endemic flora.
4. Gigantic glaciers
Many glaciers around the world are melting, but Perito Moreno, already massive in its 121 sq miles expanse, is still growing. Under the summer-lit sky, the gargantuan ice turns magical blue, beaming above the turquoise waters and creating a heart-stopping moment, especially when chunks of ice break from the mass and reverberates into the sea with a thundering sound.
5. Southernmost train rides
Vintage-flavoured carriages take passengers to the end of the world in Ushuaia. The Southern Fuegian Railway, the southernmost railway on the planet, features an old-world steam locomotive that journeys five miles to the south, stopping by Macarena Waterfall Station and offering fascinating views of the Yamana Valley.
6. Jagged peaks of mountains
Patagonia’s most iconic trek highlights the remarkable views of Mount Fitz Roy gazing above the Laguna de Los Tres, Lake of Three. A photographer’s dream destination, magical clouds swoop over the mountains that hover above three peaks, with the glaring colours of reds exploding from the sky as the sun sets down.
7. Views meant for gods
Remote yet ravishing, Patagonia is visually healing. El Chalten serves as the base for many mountain hikes. The trails slither through the canyons, with low thickets and dense woodlands along the way; some ascents are steep, but the struggle is paid off with the amazing view from the top.
8. Pre-historic cave prints
Tucked inside the Pinturas Rivers, the ‘Cave of Hands’ dates back 10,000 years –perhaps one of the earliest cave arts around the world. Dwellers drew these simple expressions using bone-strung pipes to spray mineral pigments dye on their left hands. Hunting and wildlife scenes depict pursuit of a guanaco – a type of llama – dates back to 7300 BC.
9. The Southernmost city in the world
The southernmost city of the world, Ushuaia, shines with the soft glow of lights by the harbour, with the snow-draped mountain peeking from its back. Lodged in Argentine Antarctica edge, Tierra del Fuego ironically means the Land of Fire, named by Ferdinand Magellan who spotted a burning flame by the coastline when he arrived in the 1520s.
10. Cute llamas
Pampas is a Quechua word for “flat surface,” describing its sprawling plain extending westward, majestically guarded by the Andes. It is home to many wildlife, including the native llamas, deer and fox, with the intimidating puma as its biggest predator. With its vast desert, Pampas has stirred Argentina’s gaucho literature, such as Ricardo Güiraldes’s Don Segundo Sombra. ◼
© This article was first published online in Feb 2020 – World Travel Magazine.