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Learn About... Patagonia

     Located at the extreme southern end of South America, Patagonia is a sparsely populated territory shared by both Argentina and Chile. The name Patagon means "big feet," referring to the Tehuelche Indians who wore oversized sandals which left big footprints in the sand that astonished explorer Ferdinand Magellan on his first voyage around the tip of South America in 1519. On the same voyage, Magellan also spotted one of the most fascinating penguins, now called the  Magellanic Penguins in his honor. These adorable tuxedoed birds are the largest of the warm-weather penguins, growing 24-30 inches tall. They wear a distinguishing black "U" under their chin and a black upside down "U" on their bellies. Native to the Strait of Magellan, they breed in coastal Chile.

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Tip: The seasons are reversed south of the equator, so their summer begins December 21st.

Learn About... Chile

     In Chile, Patagonia reaches down to the Tierra del Fuego island in a swath of unspoiled, ravishing natural landscapes of mountains, lakes and forests, making it an ideal destination for all kinds of adventure travel, such as hiking, climbing, mountain-biking, rafting, kayaking, fishing, SCUBA diving and horseback riding.

     The name Chile comes from an Indian word "Tchili," meaning "the deepest point of the Earth." Approximately twice the size of California, the northern Chilean desert contains great mineral wealth, principally copper while Southern Chile is rich in forests and grazing lands and with a string of volcanoes and lakes. The southern coast is a maze of fjords, inlets, canals, twisting peninsulas, and islands. The Andes Mountains hug the eastern border.  In addition to its stunning natural beauty, the Republic of Chile has a large, educated middle class and a robust free-market economy. Large cities such as Santiago have excellent tourist facilities and services, although the quality of such places varies outside major populated areas.


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