Some of us are fine with knowing that we will never explore our planet’s many beautiful landscapes. We look to television and the Internet for environmental perspective on the places we share interest in, but seemingly would never venture to.
It’s understandable. Unless you’re an experienced trekker, the idea of traveling to some distant destinations sounds a bit uncomfortable – stretching the boundaries of your vision of self.
How would you even begin to plan a trip like this? Clearly there’s no easy answer. It takes hours of research and preparation to construct an exotic destination itinerary, but the in the end, you’ll share in an experience that few have been lucky enough to experience.
Come Journey To The “End of the World”
Nestled between Argentina and Chile is a place known as the “End of the World.” The nickname is derived mostly from its geographical location, but the serenity of this place is what the locals believe earned the label. At the latitude of nearly 56 degrees, Patagonia is home to the southernmost continental point on the planet, creating a scenic, and sometimes, unforgiving environment.
A lot has changed since native tribes and bands of nomadic hunter-gatherers occupied the area. Argentina and Chile display a diverse group of ethnic backgrounds (Patagonia spans both countries). A wide range of Spaniards, Italians, Basques, English, Irish, Welsh, Yugoslavs and other nationalities make their homes there, only adding to the rich culture of the land.
Think adventure, not vacation – Not for the Weary
If you’re looking for white sandy beaches and drinks with little umbrellas in them, keep searching. Rest and relaxation is not impossible to find in Patagonia, it just differs widely from the conventional methods found on most trips. Dinner at a five star restaurant is quickly replaced by an earthy meal cooked over an open fire. Live music is provided by nature, and your hotel room is transformed into a 4×6-plastic dome. Truly humbling to anyone who’s habitat is surrounded by skyscrapers and automobiles.
The Andes Revealed
The Andes mountain range consumes the Chilean border. Only about fifteen percent of the population can be found here, and for good reason. The beauty of this expanse is only rivaled by its ruthlessness. Some of the world’s most amazing storm systems frequent the region, so it would be wise to visit in the calmer months. Always remember that this is an unforgiving part of the world. Help may not be immediately available. Even during the calmer months, trekkers should make sure they understand the perils that they may face, plan accordingly and take adequate precautions.
If you aren’t familiar with hiking at altitude, do research, especially if you plan to trek into the higher reaches of the mountain range. Altitude related illnesses can pose serious health risks and shouldn’t be ignored by anyone, novice or expert. If you do plan to trek into the higher reaches, make sure you are in good physical shape before you travel and then take some time once you’re there to acclimate to the altitude (no matter your age or physical condition).
Gorgeous rainforests, bone-dry deserts, smoldering lava, gigantic granite peaks, and some of the largest ice shelves on earth easily attract travelers from all over the world. The five districts of Patagonia are incredibly distinct. Activities include: kayaking, horseback riding, wildlife explorations, and the most popular, trekking. Though challenging, these trails are widely popular, and considered a great escape for the intermediate backpacker.
Also considered a haven for artist, photographers and painters seeking inspiration from all regions of the globe, Patagonia is often explored for its variety of flora and fauna. The multiple biospheres make is possible for thousands of species to flourish, and the cold currents from Antarctica bring abundant sea life to the coastlines. Huge migrations of whales engulf the surrounding oceans, constantly coming and going as they have for generations, a spectacle that should only be witnessed firsthand.
With so much to experience, everyone can appreciate the beauty of Patagonia. And you don’t need to be a millionaire to see it for yourself. Many prominent travel companies offer excursions to ‘The End of The Earth”. So if you’re searching for person perspective in a wildly picturesque place, you may just find what you’re looking for at the end of the world in Patagonia
About The Author: David Nance is a freelance writer and avid traveler. From his home base in Seattle (nearly the end of the world itself it seems at times), he seeks out exotic destinations where he can get away from urban centers. Once he deposits his car at the SeaTac parking lot, the stresses seem to melt away.
Photo Credits – Flickr: #1 Geoff Livingston, #2 malczyk, #3 Poldavo (Alex), #4 K1llYRidols’, #5 Liam G