If you come to visit Argentina and Chile, for sure you cannot miss Patagonia. Stretching out on one third of the total territory, it's a land of space, of legends, still virgin so to speak, as it has not suffered so far from the catastrophic drawbacks of our current human civilization.
Patagonia has been discovered by Magellan in 1519. As he used to name remarquable places he encountered, he chose "Patagonia" (country peopled by big-footed men). According to a now well known legend, Magellan and his crew had encountered a tribe of big footed giants. Accordingly they called them "Patagons" (or big feet). Later, some explorers claimed they had actually seen them, and even made some significant drawings.
On October 21st 1520, Magellan discovered the passage which allowed his squadron to achieve the first circumnavigation in History. As he noticed fumes rising from the shore, Magellan though they might come from a volcano. In fact, the fumes might have come from fires kindled by the Indians. Therefore the place was named "Tierra del Fuego".
In 1860, Orélie-Antoine de Tounens, a sollicitor born in Perigueux (SW of France), landed in Araucanie (in central Chile), where he was quickly born in triumph by the local Indians, who assumed he was the saviour who was to free them from Chilean exactions.
On November 20th 1860, he was proclaimed King of Araucanie and Patagonia. Two years later, he was banished and forced to return to France, where, he carried on his political fight, even issuing a subscription which only attracted mockery from the press. Anyway did he attempt many times to regain his kingdom, and would be expelled accordingly by Chilian or Argeninian authorities. He finally died in Tourtoirac, near Perigueux in 1878.
In 1881, Chile and Argentina officially chose to share the territory of Patagonia, but the definite and official border was only settled in 1902, thanks to Edward VII's arbitration.
Patagonia has always kindled various adventurers interest, which have launched numerous expeditions. During your Patagonian trip, you may encounter natural and historical sites more or less related to many adventurers. Let's deal now with the most famous ones:
Ferdinand de Magellan, born in Sabrosa, near Villa real (in Portugal) in 1480, died on Mactan Island (Philippine Archipelago) on April 27th 1521, is one of the most famous Portuguese navigator and explorer. In the XVth century, some kind of doubt still kept prevailing about the roundness of our planet. Although many cartographers had begun to become acquainted with such scientific truth, and Christopher Colombus before Magellan had got quite close without overtly asserting it clearly. Moreover, at those times, people in Europe had developed a trendy taste for spices, mainly oriental ones, which kindled some geographers', explorers' and traders' growing interest for eastern countries.
Ferdinand de Magellan was the first European to sail through the ... strait which was to bear his name, in 1520. Strangely enough, soon after he had discovered it on November 1st, the strait had been called at first the Strait of all Saints...
Robert FitzRoy (July 5th 1805 - April 30th 1865) is quite well known as the captain of the famous HMS Beagle, which carried on hydrographic and cartographic missions in Tierra del Fuego. In 1839 simultaneaouly with Darwin's Beagle Voyagehe published his ownaccount entitled Narrarive of the Voyage of HMS Beagle. Another Royal Navy sister ship, Cherokee was launched as well on May 11th 1820 and took part in three hydrographical missions.
HMS Beagle has remained famous because of Charles Darwin's presence on her board during the second mission of the ship from 1831 to 1836, evoked in the Voyage of the Beagle, published in 1839. In which Darwin unveiled the outlines of his Theory of Evolution. Thanks to his five year expedition, he had been ranked at first as a geologist whose observations and theories supported Charles Lyell's geological ones. Moreover, a had gained a kind of popular literary fame thanks to the final publication of his voyage journal. Puzzled at first by the geographic distribution of the wild fauna and of the sedimentary features collected during his voyage, he took to studying evolution of the species and conceived his theory on natural selection in 1838.
Francisco Pascacio Moreno (May 31st 1852 - Nov 22nd 1919 in Buenos Aires) was an Argentinian Naturalist and explorer, better known as Perito Moreno (The expert Moreno). In 1872, he founded the "Argentinean Scientific Society" and carried on numerous expeditions in unexplored territories, which brought him some kind of fame. In 1872-73 he explored the Río Negro territory, and in 1875-76 he reached the shores of Nahuel Huapi Lake, in Southern Andes, which he named at first "Lago Argentino" (Argentinian lake). His further explorations unable him to discover San Martín Lake (on Feb 14th 1877), several rivers and affluents of Patagonia. On March 4th in the same year, he discovered the Cerro Chaltén he named Fits Roy Mount as an homage paid to the captain of HMS Beagle...
All along his expeditions, he managed to have contact with native Patagonian populations, to study their origins and their history. Utterly overwhelmed by their terrible living conditions, Moreno tried to convince the central Argentine government to make their relations with natives more humane, in sharp contrast with the methods so far used to "civilize" them. He even tried to convince the government to let natives have some pieces of land and schools built especially for them.
He has remained as well famous for the part he played defending the Argentinian interests in the controversy about the the border between Argentina and Chile. As the border had been laid down according to the waters dividing line criterion, the 1881 treaty was indeed considered as rather arbitrary.
Officially appointed as the Argentinian expert, (periteo means "expert" in Spanish) and commissioned to try and solve that conflict, Moreno succeeded in putting forward a more precise border, while presenting a synthesis dealing with his geographical observations. In 1896, He came to London to ask for Queen Victoria's arbitration.
In 1902 as an homage paid to his action, Moreno received the King Jorge IV Medal, and a few territories in Patagonia. In 1903, he gave up part of these territories to allow the Nahuel Huapi National Park to be created, which was the first national park in Argentina. In 1944, Moreno's mortal remains have been transferred on Centinela Island, on Nahuel Huapi Lake. A glacier, a national park and a village still bear Moreno's name.The three of them are situated in Patagonia...
Patagonia in all seasons menu. For example, according to the climate, from Bariloche, in Patagonia Argentina, it is possible to go to Puerto Montt, in Chile, crossing successively three lakes by boat, as did the Jesuits and the first German settlers. I offer a tour that leads to the Pacific Ocean. It is quite long, but the beauty of the sites - forests, volcanoes and crystalline lakes - is such that it is worth to be carried. The Argentine side, cross the west arm of Nahuel Huapi and Lake Puerto Alegre and, the chilen side, Lake Todos los Santos. Moving from one lake to another by bus. This tour is feasible in all seasons, but in winter, it takes two days to reach Puerto Montt, stopping for one night at Peulla. We returned to Bariloche by air or by the same way, after a night in Puerto Montt. Borispatagonia is also responsible for visas to go to Chile and to book hotels. In Patagonia, winter and summer are tourist seasons. In summer, besides explore the surrounding, many activities are available: climbing, torrent fishing, sailing, horseback riding, hiking, rides, visits to Aciendas... In winter, the main activity is, of course, skiing, especially in July and August on the side of the Andes, but not only: snowshoe hikes, thematic tours, many walks to admire the beauty of Patagonia Argentina and Chile in this season, due a unique light, the warmth of the people of Patagonia... Just to talk about, I get goose bumps!