72 imagesAn empty land interrupted only by barbed wire that borders the estancias, the endless farms scattered over 900,000 square kilometers, two thousand kilometers from north to south, from the Colorado River to Cape Horn, and their flocks of sheep in thousands of animals, 17 million in Argentina alone, the seventh "sheep power" in the world. "Even if we go deep, Patagonia will always be there," say the Argentines of this mineral-rich land, from silver to uranium, not to mention natural gas, oil, and fertile land. It covers two-thirds of the country's surface area. However, it lives there less than two million people, 5% of the population. Still, today gauchos live isolated for months next to flocks, but often they move their herds on motorcycles rather than on horseback, but what does not change is the value of this land in a future in which the world will be increasingly polluted. Sheep farming introduced in the late 19th century has been a principal economic activity. After reaching its heights during the First World War, the decline in world wool prices affected sheep farming in Argentina. About half of Argentina's 15 million sheep are in Patagonia, a percentage growing as sheep farming disappears in the pampas to the north. Energy production is also a crucial part of the local economy. Railways were planned to cover continental Argentine Patagonia to serve the oil, mining, agricultural, and energy industries. In the second half of the 20th century, tourism became an ever more critical part of Patagonia's economy. A spin-off from increased tourism has been buying enormous tracts of land by foreigners, often as a prestige purchase rather than for agriculture, often VIPs and billionaires such as Sylvester Stallone, Ted Turner, or the Italian industrialists Benetton, the largest landowners in Patagonia. Today centuries of livestock activities, grazing, and trampling, have already caused severe erosion, and some forested national parks have failed to eliminate grazing. There has been pressure to create presumably sustainable forest-exploitation projects in Tierra del Fuego's Magellanic woodlands, and road-building in these areas has caused substantial damage. The contemporary economy of eastern Patagonia revolves around sheep farming and oil and gas extraction, turning Santa Cruz province into Argentina's energy safe. Away from tourist Patagonia, in the port of Puerto Deseado, fishing boats from all over the world unload impressive amounts of fish to export every day. A few dozen kilometers away from the Miradores de Darwin, an incredible fjord remained identical to the book's illustrations where Charles Darwin recounted his journey with brig Beagle, a famous exploration in which he spent considerable time investigating various areas of Patagonia onshore.
65 imagesPatagonia does not exist, but exist a lot of ideas of Patagonia created by men’s fantasies, The Chilean Patagonia is a thin piece of land crushed between the waves of the Pacific and 18,000 square kilometers of glaciers. Something like “The end of the World” that begins in the south of Puerto Montt and the Chiloè archipelago, a mythical place of the Chilean identity and Francisco Coloane’ s native land, the writer that narrated like no other this extreme world. A remote world and far away from the more tourist routes, a world made of taciturn fishermen, channels that seem gigantic pincers and glaciers.
36 imagesChile’s “End of the World” begins south of Puerto Montt and Chiloè, a mythical place of the Chilean identità. Here was born also Francisco Coloane, the writer that narrated like no other this extreme world. The vertical universe of the Chilean Patagonia, a thin piece of land crushed between the waves of the Pacific and 18,000 square kilometers of glaciers is a remote world where only a ferry transports cars and trucks until Puerto Natales and Chilean Tierra del Fuego. South of Bearle Channel, in northern coast of Navarino Island, the small town of Puerto Williams is the southermost place of the Earth, even further south of Ushuaia which boasts of the world's southernmost city title. So even though Ushuaia is large and Puerto Williams is small, the Chileans feel a secret satisfaction with Argentine cousins. Only from Puerto Williams you can take the extreme luxury of watching the End of the World the other side, from the south, less than two thousand inhabitants, a cluster of houses, a microscopic Macondo Southern, Puerto Williams is all here, with two tracks meandering along the shores of the Beagle channel. One ends in Puerto Navarino, where live two families of the Chilean navy, the other in the grass of Caleta Eugenia, where a tiny house with a red roof puts an end to the last of the Americas road.