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Although in the minds of people Patagonia is a cold and flat plain in southern Argentina, this is only partially true as this is only part of Patagonia – the rest is occupied by Chile. Cold, windy and rainy, Patagonia still draws visitors to see it's amazing geography and natural wildlife. Visitors can hike round the amazing granite towers in Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, hike on the Perito Moreno Glacier, climb the Fitzroy Moutains or watch the Magellanic Penguins in their natural habitat. Peninsula Valdez is one of the other features with many seals, sealions and seasonal whale watching.
The Argentine portion of Patagonia includes the provinces of Neuquén, Río Negro, Chubut, Santa Cruz, and Tierra del Fuego, as well as the southern tips of the provinces of Buenos Aires, Mendoza and La Pampa. In general this means that to the east of the Andes, it lies south of the Neuquén River and Colorado rivers.
The Chilean portion embraces the southern part of the region of Los Lagos, and the regions of Aysen and Magallanes. In general this means that to the west of the Andes, the line is made up by the mark of the 39°S line and everything south from this line, excluding the Chiloé Archipelago. Also the Antarctic portions of these two countries are not part of Patagonia.
Although much of Patagonia contains rough landscapes, including mountains, glaciers, fjords, flats and islands, there are a few cities to base yourself or start your trip to the magnificent natural attractions.
These cities and sometimes smaller towns include:
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The Monte Fitz Roy, also known as the Cerro Chaltén (meaning smoking mountain) lies on the border of Chile and Argentina. It became known as the Monte or Cerro Fitz Roy, named after the captain of the Beagle, Robert Fitz Roy. The mountain was first climbed by a the French duo Lionel Terray and Guido Magnone. Despite the low height of the mountain it is listed as one of the most technical climbs in the world, because of the almost vertical granite faces. There are years that none of the expeditions that attempt to summit, actually makes it.
The Peninsula Valdez is a peninsula on the Atlantic coast in the northeast of Chubut Province, Argentina. It is an important nature reserve of the world. Each year the area surrounding the Peninsula Valdez, from May to December, is occupied by the presence of hundreds of Southern Right Whales (Eubalaena Australis). Puerto Pirámides is the only port in Argentina where you can embark on a whale watching tour. The Peninsula is part of the Patagonia, a beautiful region of Argentina.
The weather in Patagonia is more diverse than you would expect. Although cold weather is common throughout most of the year, temperatures can rise well above 20 °C or even 25 °C from November to March and winters, although cold, are not that cold.
Central parts of Argentinian Patagonian are officially called a desert, because of a lack of rain and snow. It mainly covers a good part of Southern Argentina and some areas in Chile as well. The Andes Mountains and the cold Falkland current are the main reason that Patagonia is so dry, preventing most of the rain that falls on the other side of the mountains, to fall down here. There is also not much snow, even during the colder winter months.
The Chilean part of Patagonia is much wetter, mainly because of he prevailing western winds, which can leave massive amounts of rain on the western slopes of the southern Andes Mountains. In winter, these mountains can get decent amounts of snow, suitable for skiing like for example around Bariloche.
There are several ways of flying to Patagonia, with a number of exit points. The main airports are near Ushuaia, Punta Arenas, Rio Gallegos, Trelew, El Calafate and Bariloche. From and to here, there flights to other cities in the northern half of the countries, including those to Santiago de Chile and Buenos Aires.
Bus companies Tirsa, TUS, Don Otto, Mercedes, Via Bariloche, Andesmar, TAC all provide services to and from Buenos Aires and other cities in the north like Cordoba and Mendoze to Patagonian destinations like Trelew and Bariloche, from where there are onward connections more south.
In the south there is a small track on Tierra del Fuego, starting 8 kilometers outside Ushuaia, which is called the 'train at the end of the world'. Although touristy, it is a beautiful ride and not without cultural and historical significance as well.
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