The main Welsh settlement along the Andes (most of the Welsh towns in Patagonia are closer to the ocean), TREVELIN is a small, easy-going place that retains a pioneering feel, with several low brick buildings characteristic of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth. Lying 24km south of Esquel, it has beautiful views across the grassy valley to the peaks in the south of Parque Nacional Los Alerces. The town was founded by Welsh settlers from the Chubut Valley following a series of expeditions to this region that began in 1885 with a group led by Colonel Fontana of the Argentine army and John Evans. Its Welsh name means “village of the mill”, and the vital flour mill, a stalwart brick structure dating from 1918, now forms the main museum in town, the Museo Regional Molino Andes or El Viejo Molino. Well worth a visit, it displays clothing of the original colonists and even a combine harvester from circa 1900. By the entrance is a fascinating group photo of the 1902 plebiscite when the whole colony had to vote on whether it wanted to be Chilean or Argentine: those who want to know more should read Down Where the Moon Is Small by Richard Llewellyn, which is evocative in its recreation of the early years of the Welsh community here.
Another worthwhile attraction is La Tumba de Malacara, 200m northeast of the plaza, where Clery Evans, granddaughter of the village’s founder John Evans, relates the origins of the settlement (knowing Spanish helps). In the garden is the grave of her granddad’s faithful horse, El Malacara – who leapt heroically down a steep scarp to save his master from the same grisly fate that befell his companions. They had been killed by enraged Mapuche warriors who, following an atrocity committed against their tribe during the Campaign of the Desert, were bent on reprisals against any Europeans. The house attracts a steady stream of Bruce Chatwin pilgrims, as the story features in his classic travelogue, In Patagonia.
The town’s Welsh heritage is evoked in the celebration of a minor Eisteddfod (two days in the second week of October), and two casas de té, the better one being Nain Maggie, at Perito Moreno 179 (t02945/480232): the teahouse is named after owner Lucia Underwood’s grandmother, who was born in Trelew, came to Trevelin in 1891 and died in the town ninety years later at the age of 103.