A journey along the seemingly endless RN-3, with a few detours just off it, offers many opportunities – albeit at great distances from one another – to marvel at magnificent wildlife; nowhere is this easier or more rewarding than at the world-class reserve of Península Valdés, best accessed from the seaside town of Puerto Madryn. In addition you can check out Patagonia’s fascinating Welsh legacy in the villages of the Lower Chubut Valley near Trelew, while nature lovers will want to see the huge Magellanic penguin colony at Punta Tombo. The long trip can be broken up with stopovers in a trio of typical austral ports, Puerto Deseado, Puerto San Julián and Puerto Santa Cruz, each with its own wealth of marine wildlife and historical associations. A short way south of the last of these three, Monte León, the country’s newest national park – and the first to be created on the coast – is well worth a visit even if the marvellous estancia in its midst is beyond your budget. With your own transport, you could also fit in a side-trip to the curious petrified forests of the Monumento Natural Bosques Petrificados, or the Bosque Petrificado Sarmiento, closer to the Ruta 40 but accessible from the coast, too. The end of the road – and seemingly the end of the world – is reached at workaday Río Gallegos, a jumping-off point for travelling on to Tierra del Fuego or for starting a journey northwards along the RN-40.
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- Puerto Madryn
- Península Valdés
- Chubut Province: the Welsh heartland
- Punta Tombo
- The coast of Santa Cruz Province
With its harsh climate and no-nonsense commercial feel, provincial capital RÍO GALLEGOS – 246km south of Piedra Buena – is not the kind of place where you’ll want to stay for long, though there are a couple of museums and some attractive early twentieth-century buildings. It is, however, an important transport hub and many travellers pass through en route to or from El Calafate or Tierra del Fuego. The city’s namesake river is also a top fly-fishing spot, with some of the world’s biggest brown trout.