Getting Oriented

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Getting Oriented

Most of Patagonia is windswept desert steppe inhabited by rabbits, sheep, guanacos, and a few hardy human beings. The population centers—and attractions—are either along the coast or in a narrow strip of barely fertile land that runs north to south along the base of the Andes mountain range, where massive glaciers spill into large turquoise lakes. In nearby Chile, Puerto Natales is the gateway town to Parque Nacional Torres del Paine.

At the bottom end of the continent, separated by the Magellan Strait and split between Chile and Argentina, lies Tierra del Fuego. The resort town of Ushuaia ("westward-looking bay" in local Yamana dialect), Argentina, base camp for explorations of the Beagle Channel and the forested peaks of the Cordillera Darwin mountain range, is far and away the leading tourist attraction of the region.

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