Penguins, painted houses and pies are all a part of the vast and varied region known as Patagonia. It encompasses southern Argentina and the adjacent coastal strip of Chile. I flew to Santiago in Chile and then took a flight to Punta Arenas where I started my journey by road through Patagonia
Punta Arenas in Patagonia
Punta Arenas is the southernmost town of Patagonia. It is a place where people eat, shop and move on. But, I had time to admire its brightly coloured buildings before I moved on to a windswept area that is home to a large colony of Magellanic penguins. I could have watched them for hours as they waddled across the desolate grassy plain to the sea with stops to converse with groups coming in the opposite direction. But it was time to head for my resting place that night, Puerto Natales
Puerto Natales in Chilean Patagonia
The small town of Puerto Natales is ideally placed for excursions into Argentinian Patagonia. I stayed at the Martin Gusinde Hotel a traditional yet elegant hotel close to the town centre. No penguins here but a huge flock of cormorants perching on the breakwaters stretching into
one of the Patagonian fjords for which this town is famous. That evening I enjoyed a selection of the famous Chilean empanadas at the Pachamama Restaurant. I love these little pastry pies, especially the most popular beef-filled version. Early the next morning I set off for Argentinian Patagonia to visit Pietro Merino Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park.
Pietro Merino Glacier in Argentinian Patagonia
The journey to the glacier was an experience in itself. Never-ending scrub-covered plains stretched as far as the distant snow-covered peaks of the Andes. The glacier is immense but visitors can view it at all angles from viewing platforms connected by footpaths. It was calving while I was there. There would be a resounding crack. Then an avalanche of ice would roll down the face of the glacier and crash into the lagoon below. It created a tremendous wash. Enough to sweep away any tourists who had foolishly walked down to the water’s edge. As the town of El Calafate is close to the glacier I had time to stroll along the pretty streets of painted wooden buildings. The next day I moved on to the magnificent Torres del Paine National Park.
Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia
I was blown away (literally) by the stunning scenery in the Torres del Paine National Park. I stayed at the Hosteria Lago Grey in one of their cosy log cabins. Surrounded by towering peaks, sparkling lakes and cascading waterfalls it was a haven for a keen walked like myself. And the perfect place to end my journey through Patagonia.
Story by Valery Collins the Experienced Traveller