Once the sole domain of sheep farmers, the wind-whipped tip of South America is drawing a new generation of pioneers and adventure seekers.
Get a taste of what awaits you in print from this compelling excerpt.
The wind chased me everywhere I went in Patagonia. It clogged my sinuses and sent the Jeep slithering across the gravel roads as though on ice. Birds flew backward. Trees grew horizontally. The wind was a living thing. It could be violent, punching holes in glass windows or sending spirals of dust rising above the flat, dry steppe like miniature tornadoes. On a plateau above the Santa Cruz River Valley I got out of the Jeep to take a photograph, and a blast of wind wrenched the door out of my hand, bending it backward with such violence that it sheared off the two welded brackets holding the door to the chassis. At other times the wind had a feather touch. At a ranch near the Valdés Peninsula, on the Atlantic coast, I watched as the wind caressed a piece of paper, moving it about on the ground in a circle like a magnet moving a ball bearing. In Puerto Deseado I lay awake all night listening as the wind turned my hotel into a riotous orchestra. Doors rattled like snare drums. A gap under the corrugated roof wailed like a flute. The ventilation grill in the bathroom emitted a steady drone like a bagpipe. All night the wind played its wild fugue, dropping to pianissimo lulls, then rising to frenetic crescendos.
Until recently this vast, sparsely populated region in the far south of South America was a byword for remoteness—finis terrae, the uttermost ends of the Earth. Never a country or a state but rather a loosely defined region shared by two countries, Chile and Argentina, Patagonia is generally defined today as everything south of the Río Colorado and the eastern portion of the Río Bío-Bío. But there's no overarching sense of Patagonian identity, and everyone I met had a different idea of the place. "Patagonia," said one sheep rancher in...