West of Trelew is the broad LOWER CHUBUT VALLEY, a fertile ribbon of land amid some barren steppe, thanks to the Río Chubut, which flows through here from the Andes. The river derives its name from the Tehuelche word “chupat”, meaning clean or transparent. The Welsh began using the Chubut to irrigate the valley in 1867, and it was dammed a hundred years later to ensure a more predictable flow to the farm plots, while also generating electricity for industrial development around Trelew. A string of well-maintained Welsh chapels (capillas galesas) line the Chubut, including – just south of Trelew – the Capilla Moriah; dating from 1880 it’s the oldest in Argentina and many of the original settlers are buried in its cemetery. The small towns along the river’s route are all charming and, though you won’t exactly hear Welsh spoken in the streets, the legacy of pioneering times is still detectable.

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