When you think of a trip to Argentina, in addition to the cosmopolitan Buenos Aires and the majestic Iguazu waterfalls, you almost certainly want to see Patagonia. South of Latin America, mythologized by the novel In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin, where it became the symbol of the return to nature and origins, this region is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating places on Earth.
Glaciers, prairies, canals, lakes, mountains and a very rich fauna: those who choose to explore Patagonia, between Argentina and Chile, have chosen the journey of their life.
If you are one of them, here is a mini guide to the Argentine Patagonia and its must-see attractions.
You will explore glaciers, you will be breathless in front of the terrestrial and marine fauna, you will get to admire lakes and mountains held sacred by the local population: don't forget to bring comfortable shoes and a good camera, your trip to Patagonia will be challenging but rich of surprises that will compensate for the fatigue.
Perito Moreno glacier is the glacier that everyone wants to see when they embark on a trip to Patagonia. It is located within Los Glaciares National Park and it extends for 30 km in length. Powered by the Campo de Hielo Sur, it is the third freshwater reserve in the world. It is located less than 80 km from the town of El Calafate and owes its name to the explorer Francisco Moreno who took care of the study and protection of the region.
What makes it peculiar is the fact that it is in motion, due to a fresh water base that does not adhere to the rock. It is estimated that the ice advances about two meters a day. It therefore forms a natural dam at the Peninsula de Magallanes on the shores of Lake Argentino. Also the so-called ice bridge, between the glacier and the lake shore, attracts tourists.
Mount Fitz Roy, also called Cerro Chaltén, is located in Patagonia on the border between Chile and Argentina. It is part of the Los Glaciares National Park on the Argentine side and it reaches a height of 3,405 meters. The term Chaltén means "mountain that smokes" in the Aoniken language, a name due to the fact that its peak is often hidden in the clouds. The mountain was sacred to the Mapuche people and is represented in the flag of the Argentine province of Santa Cruz, where it is located. It was renamed Fitzroy in 1877 in honor of the explorer Robert FitzRoy.
The first to climb it were the French Lionel Terray and the Italian Guido Magnone in 1952, during the expedition the climber Jacques Poincenot lost his life. Even today, the Chaltén is considered a difficult mountain to climb, due to the weather conditions and its compact granite.
Los Glaciares National Park, which includes both Perito Moreno and Mount FitzRoy, is located in Argentine Patagonia, in the province of Santa Cruz, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its name derives from the ice cap that characterizes it and that gives rise to 47 glaciers. It hosts two important lakes, Lake Argentino in the south, the largest in Argentina, and Lake Viedma in the north. The largest glaciers are in the south, near Lake Argentino. Among these, in addition to the Perito Moreno, the Spigazzini and Upsala glaciers are the most famous.
Beagle channel is located in Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost offshoot of Latin America. It is located between the Great Island of Tierra del Fuego, the Pincton Islands and other smaller islands. Its eastern section is crossed by the border between Argentina and Chile. About 240 km long, it connects to the Pacific Ocean via Darwin Bay. The most important city on its shores is Ushuaia. The Beagle channel takes its name from the HMS Beagle ship that was used to conduct research in the area at the beginning of the nineteenth century.
Ushuaia is the capital of the province of Tierra del Fuego, overlooking the Beagle Channel. This is the southernmost city in the world. Winters are quite mild and summers are cool, with frequent rainfall in the fall. The Martial mountains surround it. One of the most interesting attractions of the city, in addition to the Beagle Channel, is the Museum of the End of the World, which exhibits indigenous artisan objects and remains of shipwrecks. The journey on board the Tren del Fin del Mundo is also interesting, along the route used by prisoners of the former prison of Ushuaia, now a maritime museum, to collect wood.
Tierra del Fuego National Park was founded in 1960 in order to preserve the fauna and flora of this region in the extreme south of Argentina. It is located in the province of Tierra del Fuego, in Patagonia, about ten kilometers from Ushuaia. Its total area is 63 thousand hectares, a pristine territory of lakes, mountains and glaciers, where the highest peak is Mount Vinciguerra (1,476 m.). The most important river is the Rio Pipo and inside there are many interesting lakes: Lake Alto, Lago Negra and part of the Roca and Fagnano lakes. The climate is cold, but not extremely rigid because it is mitigated by the ocean, and rainy all year round.
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