The medium-sized town of TRELEW – its Welsh name means the “village of Lewis”, in honour of Lewis Jones, its founder – is home to a couple of excellent museums, while its good transport connections make it a convenient base from which to explore the surrounding Welsh settlements of the Lower Chubut Valley and, to the south, the famous penguin colony at Punta Tombo. The only downside is the lack of particularly appealing accommodation – nearby Gaiman has a far better selection.
Trelew rose to prominence after the completion, in 1889, of the rail link to Puerto Madryn, which allowed easy export of the burgeoning agricultural yields. The railway has since disappeared, but the old station, on 9 de Julio and Fontana, is now home to the Museo Regional Pueblo de Luis (Mon–Fri 8am–8pm, Sat & Sun 2–8pm; $5). One of two fine museums in Trelew, it does a good job of tracing the area’s Celtic history and also explores the coexistence of the Welsh and the Tehuelche as well as the eisteddfod (traditional annual Welsh) festivals. Across the road is the excellent modern Museo Paleontológico Egidio Feruglio (MEF), Fontana and Lewis Jones (www.mef.org.ar), one of South America’s most important paleontological collections, which sets out to describe “300 million years of history” and contains beautifully preserved clutches of dinosaur eggs and skeletons from the region, including a 95-million-year-old argentosaurus, one of the world’s largest dinosaurs. Ask for an English guided tour (45min; free), if you need one.
Trelew’s urban centrepiece is its fine main square, the Plaza Independencia, with flourishing trees and an elegant gazebo, built by the Welsh to honour the centenary of Argentine Independence; in September/October each year, the leafy plaza becomes the focus for the most important of the province’s eisteddfodau, when two prestigious awards are made: the Sillón del Bardo (The Bard’s Chair), for the best poetry in Welsh, and the Corona del Bardo (The Bard’s Crown), for the best in Spanish.