For many, Patagonia summons up an image of a remote, hostile wilderness, tawny grasslands buffeted by screaming gales, ice-cold lagoons and insurmountable glaciers, inhabited only by hardy rough-haired mammals and scavenging birds. In fact, this region which extends down from the lake district of Chile and Argentina to Tierra del Fuego knocking on the door to Antarctica comprises a world of variety and contrasts.
In the north, snow-tipped volcanic cones are skirted by lush cool temperate forests, meadows and pastures; in the Atlantic east the Valdez Peninsula is home to a cornucopia of wildlife, and in the far south the Torres del Paine and Los Glaciares National Parks are spiked with icy pinnacles and criss-crossed by hiking trails. Some previously inaccessible parts of the region, such as the fractured land of fjords and islets of Chile’s Aisén province are now opening up to visitors.
This increasingly popular region is huge enough to absorb the growing numbers of visitors, so that the feeling of being alone with nature is never more than a short stroll away.