Best of Southern Patagonia
Ecocentro Puerto Madryn: Home to living tidepools, gardens, a research library, and more, this environmental center is a testament to the ecological commitment of Puerto Madryn, coastal Patagonia’s largest beach resort.
Reserva Provincial Península Valdés: It’s hard to choose among coastal Patagonia’s countless wildlife reserves, but Península Valdés has everything: guanacos, rheas, penguins, elephant seals, sea lions, orcas, and the great right whales. It doesn’t have everything at the same time, though, so every season’s a different experience.
Reserva Provincial Punta Tombo: Every austral spring, nearly 250,000 pairs of Magellanic penguins waddle ashore to mate in this remote spot, where there are also plenty of other seabirds and shorebirds.
Parque Nacional Monte León: Where the tides strike the headlands, the South Atlantic has gouged deep kelp-filled caverns in this recently created coastal park. In addition, there’s plenty of wildlife, including penguins and guanacos.
Estancia Monte Dinero: On the coastal steppe southeast of Río Gallegos, Monte Dinero is a model working ranch that also provides homey accommodations and access to the giant penguin colony and other sights at Cabo Vírgenes.
Eolo Lodge: Southwest of El Calafate, this new country lodge re-creates the style of the original Patagonia estancias, with vast panoramas and modern luxuries.
Parque Nacional Los Glaciares: The constantly calving 60-meter face of groaning Glaciar Moreno, west of El Calafate, is one of the continent’s most awesome sights (and sounds). Sector Fitz Roy, near the hamlet of El Chaltén, offers some of the Andes’ most exhilarating scenery, hiking, and climbing.
Parque Nacional Perito Moreno: West of RN 40, Argentina’s loneliest highway, what may be Patagonia’s wildest park offers endless vistas and varied terrain—ranging from sub-Antarctic forest to high Andean pastures.
Cueva de las Manos: East of RN 40, where the Río Pinturas has carved a canyon into the steppe, this UNESCO World Heritage Site’s rock art includes hundreds of human hands and other more abstract designs nearly 10,000 years old.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition