The stretch of the RN-3 south of Cabo Dos Bahías encompasses some pretty dreary towns, not least the oil-hub of Comodoro Rivadavia – a dire place best avoided, though it does have some useful transport links, including an airport. While this section of eastern Patagonia must claim some of the most desolate scenery in Argentina, there are some natural gems threaded along it: the Ría Deseado estuary at Puerto Deseado, with its handsome porphyry cliffs and marvellous opportunities to view dolphins and penguins at close quarters; the tremendous trunks of fossilized araucaria monkey puzzles in the Monumento Natural Bosques Petrificados; and Puerto San Julián, a historic town with access to one of the most conveniently situated penguin colonies in Patagonia. Farther south you could also break the excruciatingly long distances of largely uneventful coastline into more manageable chunks by stopping at Comandante Luis Piedra Buena, known for its fishing, or Parque Nacional Monte León, Argentina’s first coastal national park, in which a century-old estancia offers some of the area’s finest lodgings.

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