Trip Summary and Itinerary Map
- Follow the track used by Fontana’s Riflemen and subsequent early settlers when undertaking the 600 km crossing of the desert
- See dramatic scenery shaped by unique geological formations and the mega-volcano eruption some 30 million years ago
- Pass through places that haven't changed one iota in the last 10,000 years, soaking up the environment in complete stillness and silence
- A journey of historical discovery and rich Andean wildlife – from condors, to giant black chest buzzard eagles, flamingos, and even the chance of pumas
- Meals are taken care of and accommodation includes Welsh Patagonia's first tea shop and remote lodges
Day 1: Arrive in Puerto Madryn and explore Trelew
Meet your guide in Puerto Madryn and share a briefing over coffee in the town centre. You'll have some time to get to know this charming seaside town, which was the first place that the Welsh settlers disembarked back in the 19th century.
If timing and weather allows, there may then be a visit to the local seal colony, before following the route of the first settlers through the remote desert track to Rawson (65 km), the provincial capital, and the start of the Riflemen’s Road. You'll continue on to Trelew (15 km), lunching at the Touring Hotel and visiting the world-class Paleontological Museum. It is currently being remodeled to accommodate the latest find – the Patagonian Mayorum, said to be the biggest animal to ever walk the earth.
Another 15 km drive will take you to Gaiman, where you can take a walking tour of the village. You'll spend the night in a small Welsh hotel in the centre, the first tea shop to be established in Welsh Patagonia, and have dinner in Patagonia’s only Welsh restaurant. A day full of Welsh history!
Meals: Lunch, dinner
Accommodation: Hotel in Gaiman
Day 2: Begin the journey
Today you'll start the epic road trip across the desert to the Andes, following in the footsteps of the 1885 expedition which discovered "Cwm Hyfryd". You'll call in on a couple of chapels on the way to Dolavon, have a chat with a Welsh farmer and enjoy a home-made pasta (coeliac available) lunch at a working farm. Here, you'll watch Romano Giallatini's film about the Welsh chapels in the valley.
After lunch, carry on west in the valley until reaching the last Welsh village, Tir Halen, and then head out on to the Pampas. You'll pass through 180 km of desert and follow the River Chubut for 100 km, navigating through endless canyons, valleys and flood plains. There will be a visit to the historic Dyffryn y Merthyron, the place where three young Welsh men were murdered by Indians in 1884, and Dôl y Plu (Las Plumas), where you'll see the mysterious petroglyphs.
Your second night's accommodation will be next to the River Chubut at Los Altares.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: Hotel at Los Altares
Day 3: Follow the Andes and uncover Patagonia's unique rock formations
The third day entails a major off-road expedition, following the Upper Chubut River until you are in sight of the Andes. It is more than 200 miles from Yr Allorau to Gualjaina and you'll journey alongside the river the whole way, passing some of the most dramatic scenery imaginable. This is the area where dinosaurs roamed in the mid-Jurassic period and is one of the major centres of paleontological research in South America. It is also noted for its unique geological formations and the evolution of the landscape following the eruption of a mega-volcano 30 million years ago.
Pass by the amazing rock formations, through what has been termed Patagonia's own 'Death Valley' and 'Grand Canyons'. Examine ancient native cave paintings, sites of extinct and petrified forests, and areas where the nomadic Tehuelche Indians have camped for more than 8,000 years; their working stones and arrowheads still present. Look out for the rare Patagonian 'killer bunny' and chinchillon as you explore narrow caves and the cave where, legend has it, the petrified remains of the last Glyptodon (giant armadillo) laid until Victorian hunters made off with them.
In the evening, you'll dine and stay in a remote lodge, enjoying a memorable meal.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Accommodation: Local lodge
Day 4: Join Ruta 40 and visit Cwm Hyfryd
Follow the last few days of the westward journey of the Riflemen, from Gualjaina to the 'Magic Hill', an amazing optical illusion. You'll then drive down to Argentina’s infamous Route 40, tracking the Andes and eventually crossing the watershed to the beautiful valley, Cwm Hyfryd.
In the Andean steppe you'll spot traditional sheep farms until reaching Estancia Cronometro, home to a vast lake brimming with swans, geese, flamingos and all manner of waterfowl. Travel over the mountain top and to a spot below Mynydd Thomas called 'Dyma cwm hyfryd' – where the earliest Welsh immigrants first saw the beautiful green valley, rich with fruit, rivers running in all directions, and surrounded by snow-capped mountains.
You'll spend some time exploring Cwm Hyfryd in the afternoon, visiting some more historical highlights. In addition to the history, anticipate wildlife encounters with condors, giant black chested buzzard eagles, and possibly even pumas.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch
The trip can be extended to include:
An extra day to see more of the sea life around the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Peninsula Valdes (best between June and mid-November)
An extra day to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Los Alerces National Park
An extra day to explore more of the Welsh history and meet some of the Welsh community
Prices, Departures and Inclusions
This is a private itinerary that can be done with up to 4 people. You can book for the date of your choice, dependent on availability.
The trip price varies depending on group size as shown below:
4 people - USD $1,150 per person
2 people - USD $1,875 per person
- Meals: 3 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 3 dinners
- Accommodation: 3 nights in local lodgings
- Local wine with dinners
- Entrance fees for visits mentioned in itinerary
- Driver and guide
- All private transfers mentioned in itinerary
- Driver and guide
- Meals not indicated in itinerary
- Any extra/optional excursions
- Travel insurance
- Personal Equipment (request our recommended kit list for more details)
- International and domestic/in country flights