10 Facts

About Patagonia

10 Facts about Patagonia

At South America's southernmost tip lies a vast and wild land that has been barely settled or civilised since humans first arrived tens of thousands of years ago. Patagonia is, as Bruce Chatwin famously wrote, "the farthest place to which man walked from his place of origin," and to this day it retains near-mythical status in the minds of the world's adventurers.

Spanning both Argentina and Chile, Patagonia is home to fantastic mountain peaks, vast and empty steppes, glaciers and icefields, and stunning national parks. It is an incredibly display of natural beauty, virtually untouched by the hands of man.

patagonia dinosaur fossils

Here are 10 facts about Patagonia that every visitor should know:

  1. The term Patagonia comes from the word patagón used by Magellan in 1520 to describe the native people of the region. At the time Magellan believed the natives to be giants, however it is now believed that these Patagones were actually Tehuelches, who were somewhat taller than their European counterparts.
  2. The area of Patagonia spans a massive 1,043,076 km squared, occupying almost half of each country and yet only home to less than two million inhabitants.
  3. The weather is incredibly unpredictable; never rely on local weather forecasts when planning a trip. The ideal time to visit is between October - March (their summertime) as weather is warmer and there is more daylight. Although wintertime is a bit colder with an increased chance of snow, it also means fewer tourists as it is low season. But be careful - some transport links and roads will close for the winter.
  4. There are six national parks located in Patagonia, each with their own unique charms: Torres del Paine (Chile), Los Glaciares (Argentina), Laguna San Rafael (Chile), Nahuel Huapi (Argentina), Tierra del Fuego (Argentina) and Alberto de Agostini (Chile)
  5. Torres del Paine is one of the largest and most visited parks in Chilean Patagonia. The park is an extremely popular hiking destination with many marked paths and refugios that provide basic services and shelter.
  6. In December 2011 Torres del Paine National Park was ravaged by a fire that destroyed 17 thousand hectares of forest. Reforestemos Patagonia is attempting a reforestation campaign, the largest such initiative in Chilean history.
  7. The region offers some of the world's best whale-watching and Puerto Madryn is the perfect place to see these beautiful creatures up close. Located in the Chubut Province of Argentine Patagonia it is also the gateway to penguin spotting on the Valdes Peninsula (two hour bus ride from Punta Tombo Penguin Reserve), as well as home to Patagonia's famous Welsh communities, descendants of colonists who still speak Welsh.
  8. Measuring 30km long, 5km wide and 60m high, the Perito Moreno Glacier, located in the southern region of Los Glaciares National Park, is one of the greatest tourist attractions in Argentine Patagonia. The glacier is also constantly moving, it inches forward up to 2m per day and is one of the world's few glaciers that is still growing.
  9. The Neuquén Province in northwest Patagonia is known for its many dinosaur fossils. In fact, the fossilised skeleton of the biggest dinosaur to ever walk the planet, Argentinosaurus huinculensis, was discovered near Plaza Huincul.
  10. Ushuaia is the world's southernmost city and is a busy port and adventure hub; cruises and tours to Antarctica also depart from this seaport for individuals yearning to explore the world's seventh continent.

About Tucan Travel

Tucan Travel are an Adventure Tour Operatour with over 30 years' experience operating in South America. Tucan Travel offer a range of tours in Patagonia ranging from 10 to 24 days in length. For more information on Tucan Travel's group tours in the region, click here.

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