Across Patag­o­nia

Fol­low cen­turies of in­trepid trav­ellers to wild and woolly Patag­o­nia in south­ern Chile, and dis­cover a land ripe for new ad­ven­tures

Lonely Planet (UK) - - Creative Amsterdam - WORDS AMANDA CAN­NING @aman­da­can­ning PHO­TO­GRAPHS JONATHAN GREG­SON @j onathangre gson­pho­tog­ra­phy

For a dis­tant sliver of land tucked at the bot­tom of the world, Patag­o­nia at­tracts an aw­ful lot of at­ten­tion. Over the years, a ver­i­ta­ble who’s who of ex­plor­ers, ec­centrics and vagabonds has ap­peared on the hori­zon and made for shore, just as the colos­sal con­ti­nent of South Amer­ica seems to run out of steam and droop to­wards Antarc­tica. First came the global cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tors. In the 16th cen­tury, Mag­el­lan and Drake passed this way, the for­mer re­turn­ing to Europe with tales of gi­ant men no­table for their taste in singing, danc­ing and nu­dity. Then came the sci­en­tists. Captain Fitzroy, on his boat the HMS Bea­gle, sailed this way on an ex­ploratory voy­age be­fore re­turn­ing to the re­gion with one Charles Dar­win on board. Hot on their heels were the di­nosaurhunters, among them the Ger­man Her­mann Eber­hard, who came across a real gi­ant in a cave – the re­mains of the ex­tinct my­lodon, or gi­ant ground sloth. Out­laws then high­tailed it down here in a bid to es­cape the long arm of Amer­i­can law: Butch 11'"7 ," 2&# 3," ,!# '" 0'#̮7 2-7#" with the idea of re­formed lives af­ter their 12',2 1 &'*# , ! 22*# 0 ,!&#01Ɵ ," ̭, **7 came the dream­ers: Bruce Chatwin and his trav­el­ogue In Patag­o­nia, the book that led count­less other wan­der­ers to pack up their bags and hit the road south. Among that roll-call of ad­ven­tur­ers is one now largely for­got­ten in her home­land: Lady Florence Dixie. Scotswoman, war cor­re­spon­dent, pres­i­dent of the Bri­tish Ladies Foot­ball Club, Dixie headed to the south­ern tip of Patag­o­nia in 1878 for that best of rea­sons: be­cause her peers ver y much thought she shouldn’t. ‘Pre­cisely be­cause it was an out­landish place and so far away, I chose it,’ she wrote in her me­moirs, Across Patag­o­nia. For six months, she criss­crossed be­tween Ar­gentina and Chile on her horse, gal­lop­ing across plains and trot­ting up moun­tains, camp­ing in the 5'*"Ơ ̮##',% ̭0#1 ," **#%#" ! ,,' *1Ơ and dis­cov­er­ing whole swathes of the re­gion un­known to out­siders. She was !#*# 0 2#" *-! **7 1 2&# ̭012 30-.# , tourist in Patag­o­nia, and re­turned to Scot­land with a con­sid­er­able amount of fame. (She also re­turned with a jaguar, which she named Af­fums and kept as a pet on her coun­try es­tate.)

Oh, ev­ery­one here knows about Florence,’ says trekking guide Gon­zalo Koo, paus­ing to lean on his walk­ing poles. ‘As 2&# ̭012 2-30'12 &#0#Ơ she is like the Vir­gin Mar y in Patag­o­nia.’ We have spent the morning me­an­der­ing through beech forests in Chile’s Úl­tima Esper­anza (‘Last Hope’) prov­ince, skirt­ing the cave where Eber­hard found his gi­ant sloth, and clam­ber­ing up to­wards moun­tain peaks shin­ing with fresh 1,-5Ɵ 3120 * . 0 )##21 ," &'*# , ̮'!)#0 birds have been con­stantly an­noyed by our .0#1#,!#Ơ ̮ '*',% 3. $0-+ 2&#'0 ,#121 ', screeches of ir­ri­ta­tion as we pass. Af­ter a cou­ple of hours, we emerge from the foothills and onto a broad plateau. ‘Maybe Florence wasn’t here on this ex­act spot,’ says Gon­zalo, ‘but she would have passed through this val­ley.’ He ges­tures at the land­scape 900 me­tres be­neath us. Au­tumn is newly ar­rived in the south­ern &#+'1.&#0#Ơ ," 2 %-,' *--)1 -, ̭0#Ơ the grass­lands glow­ing rus­set and the

Head­ing to­wards the moun­tains of Tor­res del Paine. TOP RIGHT Con­dors wheel­ing above ‘Last Hope prov­ince’

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