Patagonia. This word brings excitement for travellers around the world who dream of adventure and the wild outdoors in Argentina. From incredible ice glaciers to countless lakes and mountains, there are more than enough attractions to offer any visitor’s interests. In a region as vast and varied as Patagonia, it can be hard to choose the highlights to visit on a limited schedule. However, one major destination that should not be overlooked is the Atlantic coast, which offers natural tranquillity and a wide range of wildlife and fauna. A small town on the coast, called the “Argentine answer to the Galapagos” by the New York Times, Bahía Bustamante is the ideal town to explore the Atlantic Patagonian surroundings.
Only a quick plane ride from the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires to the Chubut Province, Bahía Bustamante is known for its seaweed industry and ancient petrified forest. Bahía Bustamante is the perfect escape to experience the “undiscovered” Argentina. With a slower paced lifestyle and an intimate connection to the land, locals are passionate about educating visitors on their abundant natural resources. Visitors have countless opportunities to interact with the diverse flora and fauna native to the land. Atlantic shores house hundreds of wildlife species including sea lions, penguins, and marine birds. In true Argentine tradition, Gaucho culture is still alive in Bahía Bustamante, with expansive Patagonian estancias that raise sheep. Just make sure you leave enough room in your suitcase to bring an adorable penguin home with you!
Here are a few must-do activities on your trip to Bahía Bustamante:
Boating Excursion to Sea Lion and Seabird Colonies
Sail through the Malaspina coast to observe seaweed harvesting in action, a major industry of Bahìa Bustamante. You can learn about the infinite species of seaweed and mussels that grow in the coves. Sail on over to the islands in the bay to search for wildlife, including sea lions, marine bird colonies, and penguins. Get up close and personal with these animals, who enjoy sunbathing just as much as you!
Hike in the Petrified Forest
Journey back to ancient Patagonia territory over 60,000,000 years ago! The Petrified Forest, known as “The Pyramid,” remains one of the region’s top attractions for a glimpse into the past. Hikes along moon-like landscape afford sightings of foxes, armadillos, and skunk living among petrified tree trunks and colorful rock fossils. A walk towards its highest point gives way to a stunning view of the desert steppe below. As much as modern society has changed natural landscape, it’s refreshing to visit the “original Patagonia” that is still intact and thriving.
Visit a Patagonia Estancia
Bahía Bustamante is comprised of three large estancias (Argentine ranches) spanning 80,000 hectares. Each of the estancias has a large production of sheep wool and meat. Visit the corrals and learn about daily farm tasks like shearing, weaning, classification, or marking of the sheep. Depending on the season, you can even try out one of the ranch activities. For example, those who plan their trip for August will be able to shear a sheep – one of the 20,000 being sheared during this season!
Ever wonder what makes dulce de leche so sweet and rich? You can thank the seaweed harvesters in Bahía Bustamante for it! It may come as a surprise that natural gelling agent in seaweed is widely used in the food industry, such as thickening dulce de leche. Learn about the health benefits and widespread uses of seaweed and the importance of the industry in the area at a local harvesting factory.
In addition to these main attractions, Bahìa Bustamante also offers classic Patagonia outdoor adventure activities such as kayaking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and boating. Of course, a relaxing day on the white sand beaches can always fit into your schedule!