Heading south beyond Cholila you’ll notice a distinct change in the scenery, as the lush pine forests are replaced by drier terrain that is home to the stunted meseta-style vegetation more typical of Patagonia proper. Some 90km south of the Cholila/Leleque turn-off, Esquel, the main town in the area, is a starting-point for visits to Parque Nacional Los Alerces, as well as a scattering of Welsh villages of which Trevelin is the most appealing. This is also the stage through which the steam train La Trochita, one of the region’s most enduring attractions, plies its trade.
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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; tre being Welsh for town, velin mill, in reference to the flour mill that was built by the settlers. The town’s Welsh heritage is evoked in the celebration of a minor Eisteddfod (two days in the second week of October), and casas de té, the best one being Nain Maggie, at Perito Moreno 179: 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.