Reasons to visit Welsh Patagonia
- The distinct fusion of Wales and Argentina is seen in the landscape, marked with windmills and chapels, the culture, with tea houses and festivals celebrating the Welsh heritage, and even the sport, exemplifying a particular appreciation of rugby
- Around 5,000 locals continue to claim the Welsh language and there are still many towns and villages that have Welsh names, the main ones being Trelew, Trevelin, Gaiman, Esquel and Puerto Madryn
- Unravel the history of the Welsh pioneers at the Historical Museum in Gaiman, or delve into a different aspect of the heritage at the Palaeontology Museum in Trelew
- You can explore the region independently as part of a Ruta 40 self-drive, and it's also possible to arrange guided tours of the area which will often focus on both the Welsh connections and the spectacular regional wildlife
Discover Welsh Patagonia
Where to visit
We recommend incorporating visits to a few of the towns in the valley with the nearby wildlife and marine life highlights. Experience the great diversity of marine life that Puerto Madryn has become famed for and head out to Peninsula de Valdés to see the penguins, sea lions, seals, and whales.
See Southern Right Whales give birth (August–December) and teach their young to swim right by the shore in El Doradillo, and walk among the thousands of Magellanic Penguins at Estancia San Lorenzo. For unforgettable hiking and cycling routes, head to the Patagonia Austral National Park, near Bahía Bustamante.
History of Welsh Patagonia
In 1865, the first group of immigrants set sail from Liverpool aboard the Mimosa with the hope of starting a new colony in Patagonia in which they could preserve and develop their culture and language, and take refuge from cultural and economic oppression they were experiencing in Wales.
Arriving in what is now Puerto Madryn, they went on to establish the first Welsh Argentine settlement, 'Y Wladfa', in the Chubut Valley. The community was headed by the congregationalist minister, Michael D. Jones, who, after witnessing the difficulties faced by newly emigrated Welsh communities in America, championed an independent Welsh settlement free from English influence.
In many ways the early settlers were not prepared for the reality of the environment, however, they worked the land and through successful irrigation were able to create fertile wheat fields. Then came more settlers, further developing the irrigation, and the official granting of the land in 1875, prompting another flow of Welsh migrants to settle in the area.
Preserving the Welsh in Patagonia
In recent years there have been increased efforts to promote Welsh, such as the official visit to Patagonia by the Welsh Assembly First Minister Rhodri Morgan in 2001, and a special section of the BBC's website, which has helped forge links between Welsh and Patagonian schools.
In Oct 2010 we were delighted to have the chance to attend the premiere of the Welsh and Spanish language film, Patagonia. You can see the review of this unique film on our blog by guest writer Chris Brown.
Where to Visit
With a distance of over 1,000 miles from North to South, Patagonia is a vast region spanning two countries. This is one of the reasons Patagonia remains Earth's Secret Paradise; you could spend years exploring the area.
So where should you go? What are the best regions? Swoop can help you make the most of your short time in Patagonia.