Nearly the whole southernmost region of continental Argentina is covered by the semi-arid scrub plateau known as Patagonia. It makes up a sizable steppe and desert region with a surface size of around 260,000 square miles (673,000 square kilometers), stretching south from latitude 37° to 51° S. Its approximate boundaries are as follows: the Patagonian Andes to the west, the Colorado River to the north (except where it extends north of the river into Andean borderlands), the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Strait of Magellan to the south; the area south of the strait, known as Tierra del Fuego, which is shared by Argentina and Chile, is also frequently included in Patagonia.
The Tehuelche Indians, who were the area’s first residents and went by the name Patagones, are said to be the origin of the term Patagonia. One theory holds that the Tehuelche’s appearance reminded Ferdinand Magellan of Patagon, a dog-headed monster from the 16th-century Spanish romance Amadis of Gaul, which is why he gave the creature that name. Ferdinand Magellan was a Portuguese navigator who oversaw the first European expedition into the region.
What is Patagonia famous for?
Patagonia is the southernmost part of South America, extending between Argentina and Chile. The provinces of Neuquén, Ro Negro (famous for the city of Bariloche), Chubut, Santa Cruz (home to El Calafate and the Perito Morneo Glacier), and Tierra del Fuego make up Argentina’s Patagonia (which capital is Ushuaia). Why is this undeveloped area so well-known to tourists?
The most southern region of the world where people can walk is known as Patagonia. This is what first made the area famous; everyone wanted to visit the remote areas since they were still seen as untamed places where people could rediscover some of the unique connections they had had with nature.
Where is Patagonia located?
Argentina and Chile share Patagonia’s territory, which is located in the southern part of South America. Let me go through each stage since the two nations share Patagonia.
With a total area of 930,731 km2 and a population of 2,037,545 people, Patagonia in Argentina is made up of the provinces of La Pampa, Neuquén, Ro Negro, Chubut, Santa Cruz, and Tierra del Fuego. Each of these provinces offers a variety of opportunities for adventure, relaxation, and fun in a setting where vivacious nature is the main draw.
The Patagonia region is just an arbitrary boundary in Chile; it does not exist as a political entity. The Corcovado Gulf is usually thought to be the beginning of Chilean Patagonia. Encompassing the entire national territory from the Pacific Ocean to the Argentina border, from Gulf to Cape Horn.
It contains the regions of Aysén and Magallanes, as well as the province of Palena, per the country’s political division (without the Chilean Antarctic Territory). Presently, it is preferable to limit this to the territory of Chilean Patagonia to distinguish it from the region farther north of the Corcovado Gulf (Lake region). However, geological investigations demonstrate the relationship and geological unit between the South and North Patagonian massifs, establishing the Huincul fault as Patagonia’s northern boundary and encompassing the Los Ros and Araucana regions. Let’s look at a map to see Patagonia’s global location.
What is the origin of the name Patagonia?
Patagonia is mysterious like few other places in the world, which makes figuring out how it got its name its first obstacle. There are different versions of it that credit Magellan as the creator. One of them refers to the navigator’s observation of large footprints left by the Tehuelches, a local indigenous group distinguished by their robust build and exceptional height.
Theoretically, Magellan may have used the term “Patagón” to refer to a literary monster or a figure from a well-known medieval book. It’s indeed one of the most fascinating places right now, the perfect location for anyone looking to travel and have life-changing experiences.
Cruises to Southern Fjords and Glaciers in Patagonia
The cruises departing from Ushuaia, Punta Arenas, and Puerto Natales—three of the major cities in the southern part of Patagonia—are a must-do. Yes, these are pricey. However, it will undoubtedly be a high point of your journey. The mythical Cape Horn, the last rock in the continent before reaching the white continent of Antarctica, is where you will disembark to enjoy trekking activities, take unforgettable photos, learn more about the history of the area, and discover incredible landscapes, distant channels, fjords, and glaciers. Let me recommend stopping by our Cruise Area to look at the alternatives. They are all genuinely great! But allow me to make two suggestions: Astonishing Australis Cruise from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas, Skorpios III, and the Kaweskar Route.
Patagonia has one of the lowest population densities on Earth, with about 1-2 persons per square kilometer, due to its harsh terrain and environment. Less than 5% of Argentina’s population resides there, despite it making up roughly a third of the country’s total territory. The first known occupants of Patagonia were nomadic tribes that traveled through the grasslands in search of large wildlife.
Due to its diverse geography, Patagonia is home to a broad range of species. A llama relative, guanacos, prefers to live in the chilly, harsh mountains. Usually, they dwell in 25 to 50-person groupings. The Argentine steppes are home to most of the world’s Guanaco population—about 90%.
The Andean condor, with its incredible 10-foot wingspan, is the world’s most giant flying bird. They use Patagonia’s strong winds to propel their enormous 30-pound bodies through the air. Because they were the first to welcome Magellan as he passed the southern tip of South America on his circumnavigation, they received their name. Around 1.7 million pairs of penguins call Patagonia home, and they come here every year to raise their young. In Patagonia, there are more penguins than people!
Glacial Lakes of Patagonia
Patagonia is depicted with broad strokes, with stripes running north to south that represents the three various types of landforms. Chile’s western islands and peninsulas are densely forested. The Andes, many of which are covered in glaciers, are in the center, albeit closer to the west coast than the east. From the Andes, a high, dry plain extends to the east.
But various blue hues break up this restrained color palette. Massive amounts of water extend east and west from the Andean glaciers. On February 19, 2011, the NASA Terra satellite’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) took this image of the lakes in Patagonia in natural colors.
The majority of the glacial lakes reach the high plain in the east. Similar to the lakes in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the appearance of these water bodies varies depending on depth and silt concentration.
The darkest of the lakes, Lago Buenos Aires (also known as Lago General Carrera), is electric blue in the west and navy in the east. Lago Cardiel and Lago Argentino are lighter in the south. The lightest lakes are Lago San Martin and Lago Viedma, which have the color of thick glacial flour. Similar to glaciers elsewhere in the world, Andean glaciers gradually ground up the underlying rocks into fine-grained sediments. Glacial (or rock) flour pools in glacial lakes, turning the water into a vivid turquoise tint.