Welcome to Wild Welsh Patagonia in Argentina! In the face of political persecution, for the Welsh, there was nothing like an empty far-flung land to escape to. For two Wild West outlaws, this was also a fresh-start haven, but in the end, old habits die hard. Retrace this story across Patagonia from Trelew on the coast and up the Chubut River to Trevelin in the mountains. It also passes the fossil site of a titanosaurian sauropod dinosaur and the petrified forests that it once grazed on. It is here too under the dark Patagonian night skies that stars truly blaze. As above, so below, life on the Patagonia steppe radiates with wonder, energy, and possibility. From colonialism to the cosmos, this is a journey back through long history within the vastness of Patagonia.
In 1865, y Wladfa ‘the Welsh colony’ was first settled in the Chubut Province around Trelew. At first, they struggled, and with the help from the local Tehuelche, they survived. Then, with the building of irrigation canals, the colonists were able to produce 6,000 tons of wheat by 1885. Later, they built a 70km railway line between Trelew and the quay in Puerto Madryn. The settlement also spread inland along the meandering Afon Camwy ‘Chubut River valley’ towards the mountains. Finally, in 1888, they founded Cwm Hyfryd ‘Beautiful Valley,’ Trevelin, in the foothills of the Andes.
So, it was here in wild Patagonia, the plucky Welsh pioneers had created a new Wales, reminiscent of their homeland. It was forged through the Welsh language, reflecting Welsh values, and in defiance of a disparaging English elite. Today, the Patagonian Welsh still retains much of their language, culture, and traditions. Also, expect to see Welsh Nonconformist chapels, watermills, and tea houses. Above all, every October, the descendants of Wild Welsh Patagonia celebrate the ‘Eisteddfod festival’ with poetry, literature, and music.
A haven, even Wild West outlaws, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, also settled in Patagonia with the Welsh. With stolen loot and under assumed names, they purchased a sizeable ranch you can still visit north of Trevelin. They were also joined by the mysterious, beautiful Etta Place – Sundance’s girlfriend. At first, all three were fondly remembered as law-abiding citizens. However, the excitement and spoils of a lawbreaking lifestyle lured back into robbery and escapees. By 1905, they had outstayed their welcome and fled to Bolivia where they were later gunned down. Theirs were a short and sweet story.
Patagonia also has fossil sites of some of the largest dinosaurs ever to walk the Earth. Near Trelew, at the crossroads of ‘Coastal’ Route 3 and ‘Steppe’ Route 25 to the Andes, look out for Patagotitan! It is a replica of a colossal Titanosaurus that once roamed the Cretaceous plains of Argentina 100 million years ago. For other dinosaurs and more, the Paleontological Museum ‘Egidio Feruglio’ is a must-do visit through deep time. Close by, you can also visit the Petrified Forest ‘Florentino Ameghino’, a paleontological site of an ancient evergreen coniferous forest.
This is more than just a journey through Wild Welsh Patagonia. It is also an awe-inspiring encounter with your home in the cosmos. With one-third steppe and two-thirds sky, the Patagonia steppe has lots and lots of time and space. So, there’s less than one person per square kilometre across its endless plains, grassy plateaus, river valleys, and canyons. Best of all, far from city lights, when the sun sets, the Milky Way rises, and a billion stars shine. Lastly, you may never experience anything as epic as what life humbly does here to flourish, despite the harshness. Here, you’ll know your place in history, as well as nature.
So, if you want to escape into the history pages of somewhere fascinating, why not explore Wild Welsh Patagonia? Especially suited for self-drivers and star glazers, talk to our travel specialists today about tailor-making this itinerary.
Highlights of Wild Welsh Patagonia
- Welsh Patagonian history, tea houses and festivals.
- Cabin and the story of the famous Wild West outlaws, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
- Meandering Chubut River and Valley and Andean foothills and lakes.
- Paleontological Museum ‘Egidio Feruglio’ with fossils remains of Patagonian fauna and flora.
- ‘Patagotitan’, the Titanosaurian sauropod dinosaur and Petrified Forest ‘Florentino Ameghino.’
- Clear Patagonian night skies for the best stargazing in the southern hemisphere.
- Abundant and unique Patagonian steppe wildlife and birdlife.