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Visiting Welsh Patagonia

There are so many interesting places to go and sights to see in Welsh Patagonia that planning your journey there is a complicated process: When should you go? How long should you stay for? Which are the “must sees” for this trip and which can be left for the next trip? To help you prepare, here are some guidelines:

How to get to Argentina
Argentina is well served from most countries in the World and particularly well served from Europe and the United States. Most European carriers have flights from London via their capital cities and there are many connection points in the USA. However, most fly to Buenos Aires on the eastern side of the country, which is more than 2,000 kilometres from Welsh Patagonia. From South Africa, you have the choice of flying with SAA or Malaysian Airlines (via Sao Paolo in Brazil), with direct flights scheduled to start in 2008. Until recently, getting south in Argentina meant taking an Aerolineas Argentinas internal flight, whose prices increase if you do not take the international leg of your journey with them. However, LAN Chile has a connection with Bariloche, just north of Welsh Patagonia, from its hub in Santiago and it has good internal routes in Argentina into the bargain. LAN Chile can supply a South America Airpass if you use them (or another member of the One World Alliance) for the international leg of your journey. If you are based in the UK and feel particularly adventurous, there are 6 commercial flights a month operated by the UK Ministry of Defence from RAF Brize Norton in the UK to the Malvinas/Falkland Islands via Ascension Island, with onward connections to Argentina and Chile. For most travellers, Argentina is a long way away from home and an opportunity to travel there doesn’t come along every day. So, in planning your journey, think about where you would like to stop off en route (New York and Rio de Janeiro are the most popular for visitors from Europe) and look at Round the World tickets with groups such as the Star Alliance and One World. If you’re flying eastwards into Argentina, you will never have a better opportunity to visit Easter Island and French Polynesia.

How to travel around
Once you arrive in Argentina you begin to realise what an enormous country it is. Stretching 5,000 kilometres from north to south, it is the eighth biggest country in the World and getting around is no easy matter. There are two internal airlines, Aerolineas Argentinas and LADE, and LAN Chile covers the main tourist locations. Most internal flights are routed through Buenos Aires, which means that travelling between Patagonian cities can only be accomplished by bus or rented car. There are virtually no long distance rail services. The bus network is comprehensive and buses are comfortable and efficient. You will often have options of day or night buses for long journeys. Car rental is expensive and driving in Argentina can be dangerous, especially at night. The country has one of the highest road mortality rates in the World (and it is increasing). If you plan to cross any of the many borders with Chile, you need to make special arrangements with your car rental company.

Where to go outside
Welsh Patagonia The main tourist attractions in Argentina are far apart from each other: the stark scenery of Ushuaia at the bottom of the world; the magnificence of the Iguazú Falls (Iguaçu in Portuguese); the grandeur of the glaciers in Calafate; the colonial splendour of Cordoba; the great wine city of Mendoza and the Volcanoes of the Andes. All are world class attractions and you will never regret visiting any (or all) of them. LAN Chile’s Air Pass will get you to most of them. But if your time is limited, remember that the whole of Welsh Patagonia lies between two of the most dramatic attractions of all - Península Valdés and Parque Nacional Los Alerces. If you have the time, you can drive or take a bus down the famous route 40 and follow the Andes, taking in many of the country’s finest attractions and then make your way north again by air from Punta Arenas in Chile or Ushuaia in Tierra del Fuego.

When to come
Argentina’s seasons are opposite those in Europe and the northern hemisphere. The western side of Welsh Patagonia is in the rain shadow of the Andes and enjoys dry weather most of the year, with warm summers and cold winters. The eastern side is hot for much of the year and cool in the winter. A strong wind from the west blows for much of the year. January and February is the high season period and both seaside resorts and mountain areas are very busy with holidaymakers from other parts of Argentina. The two or three months or so after Easter are normally low season and some great deals can be had with hotels at this time, especially for long term stays. From June to December is the high season for Península Valdés (see table below). If you are interested in Welsh events, the Eisteddfod in Trelew is normally held at the end of October and the Eisteddfod in Trevelin at the end of April. The anniversary of the landing of the Mimosa is on 28 July and the anniversary of the Rifleros’ ride is in Trevelin on 24 November. For those looking for adventure, the ski season in Esquel runs from June to October, white-water rafting is best between September and January and hiking and mountain biking can be enjoyed pretty much the whole year round. The fishing season runs from November to April
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See Welsh Patagonia Sea life


Where to stay
While you are in Welsh Patagonia, you need to have a base in the west and a base in the east. In the east, there are 4 options: Rawson (the capital of the province of Chubut), Puerto Madryn, Trelew and Gaiman. All are well served by bus connections and no point is more than an hour or so from any other. Rawson has little in the way of accommodation, night life or restaurants; Trelew has a number of hotels and restaurants, but is a big industrial city; Puerto Madryn has the best selection of accommodation and is a fun seaside town, but more expensive than the othes; Gaiman is a delight, but is very small and offers little in terms of accommodation. Tour groups tend to base themselves in Puerto Madryn and small groups will typically try and spend one night in Gaiman before heading west.

East to west or west to east?
No trip to Welsh Patagonia is complete without visiting the Welsh communities in both the east and west of the country. If you are coming with a Welsh itinerary in mind, then the purists say that you should follow the original settlers’ route of east to west. But it doesn’t really make much difference which way you come, except that the light is better if you go from west to east – the only time you will have sun in your eyes is if you leave early in the morning. There are no flights between east and west, so you must use a bus or car. The flights in and out of the region are important in planning the itinerary for the rest of your stay in Argentina: Bariloche in the west and Trelew in the east are well served with flights to Buenos Aires. Esquel has only three flights a week. Puerto Madryn will soon be accessible from BA via LAN Chile.

     
     


 
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Esquel - Chubut - Patagonia - Argentina - Email: info@welshpatagonia.com
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