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AGS Patagonia 2022 Tour

In 2022 Martin Sheader will once again lead our popular AGS Patagonia Tour.
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Patagonia is a remote region of the world, including the southernmost provinces of Argentina. It has a diverse range of spectacular landscapes including vast areas of semi-desert steppe to the east and temperate rainforest to the west, separated by the dramatic peaks of the Andes. This varied landscape supports many plants that are striking in colour, form and habit. Some are in cultivation, but many, especially the alpine and steppe flora, are not.

In addition to the flowers, we should see lots of wildlife, notably guanacos, foxes, austral parrots, condors, skunks and armadillos.

During this tour we start in Bariloche, central Patagonia, and finish in the area of Cerro Zeballos, in the south, near the border with Chile, visiting a range of habitats and seeing many flowers.

San Carlos de Bariloche

After arriving in Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, we fly to San Carlos de Bariloche on Lago Nahuel Huapi, in Rίo Negro province. From here we visit two mountains, Cerro Catedral and Mirador Nirihuau. The Cerro Catedral massif towers over the city and is accessible by ski lift. Here we should find a good range of plants including Callianthemoides semiverticillata, Oxalis adenophylla, Oxalis erythrorhiza, Combera paradoxa, Ourisia fragrans, Viola petraea and Viola sacculus. Forms of Viola petraea and Oxalis adenophylla are particularly attractive at Mirador de Nirihuau.

Esquel

Then we move to Esquel, a town founded by Welsh settlers. We botanise en route, with a stop at Cerro Piltriquitrón, providing a chance to see some of the early flowering mountain species. From Esquel we visit one mountain, La Hoya, where we hope to see the spectacular buttercup Callianthemoides semiverticillata together with Tristagma circinatum, Viola sacculus and Hamadryas kingii.

A long drive on good roads through steppe takes us to out next destination at the town of Rίo Pico. We visit Lago Vinnter to photograph Viola columnaris and many other interesting steppe and woodland plants. On the way we make a short detour to visit sites rich in cactus, including Austrocactus, Pterocactus and Maihuenia.

Next days we head south to spend a couple of days botanising around Lago Fontana. Here we should find good populations of orchids such as Chloraea alpina and Chloraea magellanica.

Los Antiguos

For the next two nights we stay at Los Antiguos, a small town at the border crossing with Chile, at Lago Buenos Aires. We spend the next couple of days botanising on Monte Zeballos before crossing into Chile. Monte Zeballos is floristically rich. One can find here two species of rosulate viola (V. auricolor & V. sacculus), three species of oxalis (O. laciniata, O. adenophylla & O. loricata), two species of benthamiella (B. patagonica & B. azorella) and three species of hamadryas (H. delfinii, H. kingii & H. sempervivoides). There are many other alpine species in the area. In addition the scenery is spectacular with craggy peaks, screes slopes and wet snowmelt habitats.

From here we drive down south to the remote PN Perito Moreno and spend the night at  Estancia Menelik. This is a remote estancia set in a wild bleak landscape. We will explore the national park by bus and on foot, using 4 x 4 vehicles where necessary. Here we should find interesting plants in a range of habitats including Viola auricolor (the southernmost rosulate viola), Valeriana moyanoi and Viola auricolor.

The tour ends with a long drive from Perito Moreno to the coastal town Comodoro Rivadavia, in the north of Santa Cruz, Argentina’s southernmost mainland province. This is an industrial city in an oil producing area. From here we fly back to Buenos Aires and a day later, back home.

 

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