Here it’s, the legendary Patagonia, those of all the adventures, the magic mountains, great depopulated spaces, swept by the winds violent one of the Pacific! Because it’s well here, at the end of the world, that the most spectacular landscapes of the Great South are gathered: mythical massif of Fitz Roy, the fantastic cap of the “Campo de Hielo Sur” and its gigantic glaciers, whose the famous Perito Moreno, and, Chilean side, massif of Torres del Paine and channels of Patagonia, between majestic fjords and suspended glaciers…
Three natural environments make this vast area: in Chile, on the Western slope of the Andes, the covered mountainous massif of a dense vegetation; in Argentina, on the slope Is of the Andes, intersected with deep depressions, the famous “mesetas”, immense semi-arid steppes and dusty of the Patagonian plateau, whose altitude oscillates between 1,500 m at the foot of the Cordillera and 700 m at the accesses of the Atlantic and where only a sparse vegetation of bushes of Quillimbay, Calafate and Coiron remains; finally, a littoral marked by the geological undulations unrolling of the wild and torn coasts where pleasant small harbour cities hide.
The British naturalist Charles Darwin is undoubtedly the traveller who expressed with the most accuracy the emotion than one feels to the vastness of Patagonia. In 1836, of return in England after five years of navigation on the Beagle, he foot-note its impressions in A Naturalist’s Voyage Round the World: “In calling up images of the past, I find the plains of Patagonia frequently cross before my eyes; yet these plains are pronounced by all to be most wretched and useless. They are characterized only by negative possessions; without habitations, without water, without trees, without mountains, they support only a few dwarf plants. Why, then – and the case is not peculiar to myself – have these arid wastes taken so ﬁrm possession of my mind?”.
Patagonia is the extreme point of the South American continent baptised by Magellan and his chronicler Pigafetta who, one day of winter in 1520, accosted on a cold and afflicted shore. According to certain historians, this name would come from the footprints of big size feet that they discovered there (in Spanish, patagón designates an individual with the large feet), footprints left by the skin shoes of the Indians. Others think that it’s to the Patagon giant – a history character of knighthood very appreciated in Spain at the time – whom the area owes its name.
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