Barren, desolate, and vast is the landscape ahead. The mere scale is daunting and formidable, with its snow caped peaks in the distance and the surrounding steppe void of trees, birds, or animals of any nature. The sky is alive and the scenery fantastic. I am in awe and at a loss for words. My mind slowly comes to a morbid realization. To be stuck here would ensure a cold and lonely death.
This road curves its way along the shore of Lake Viedma and slowly gains ground on the eventual destination of El Calafate. I find myself passing through some of the most beautiful landscape on earth, the province of Santa Cruz and the stunning Argentine Patagonia.
My mind drifts and vaguely catches pieces of one fleeting thought after another. This is the bottom of the world. One of the last inhabited regions on earth and still incredibly untouched, undisturbed. It is the end of the Andes and the gateway to the continent of ice and snow. A land of fjords and inlets, of valleys and vicious peaks, of endless and constant wind, of lakes and islands, of history and exploration, of desperation and desire, this is the Patagonia dreaming.
Now, the idea of the Patagonia usually brings to mind mountaineering, climbing, glaciers, gear, etc. This is mostly due to the clothing brand, however does hold true in some sense. The Patagonia is an adventure mecca and is becoming increasingly popular for climbers, hikers, kayakers, and mountaineers from all over the world. It is also gaining pace in the general sightseeing tourist market, both in Chile and Argentina. The area is lined with remote and wild national parks offering great multi day trekking routes, easy access to some beautiful glaciers and stunning vistas, quaint little towns, and wonderful people. It really is a gem and has so much to offer the intrepid traveller.
One thing that I like most is that the Patagonia holds a certain mysticism to it. This is going to seem super touristy and more like a marketing pitch than anything else, however I truly believe this idea to be an almost palpable feeling and often see the “awe” of first timers to the region, strengthening my own sentiments. It is the vast expansiveness of the end of the world and the raw natural beauty that usually blows most people away. The Torres del Paine massive, the fiord lands, the northern forests, the southern seas, the history of the first nations and of early European exploration, all of these factors play a big role in the “mysticism” of the area. The Patagonia is majestic and still very much undiscovered.
People come here chasing their own personal dreams of grandeur adventure. Looking at a map of the area is often daunting, there is so much land untouched, so much to discover. There are also small dots representing tiny back country towns supporting some of the best micro breweries in all of South America. Towns populated by extraordinarily kind and warm people. People who have adopted the harsh climate as their own, people who have decided to live in one of the most stunning and raw places left on earth, people with strong moral sentiments and fantastic cooking skills! As I have said before, the people are everything, add good food and scenery and it is no wonder the Patagonia holds such a draw.
I have the feeling I could go on and on about the geology, gastronomy, climate, wildlife, etc. etc. However, I honestly would rather not type it all out, and plus I am much better at expressing my opinions through conversation than text. 🙂 The Patagonia is a region of the earth worth visiting at some point in your life. It is a place of incredible beauty and one which I feel privileged to have been given the opportunity to get to know. Our world is here now, waiting for you. Make your move, go somewhere, whether it be the Patagonia or not, it doesn’t matter. Travel will open your eyes to things you never thought possible, allow oneself to grow through experience and integration within the unknown, the exotic. The people are kind, the water fresh, and the food delicious. Where is your next trip? Any plans to visit the Patagonia?