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Cape Vírgenes Nature Reserve See map

An unforgettable trip from Río Gallegos.

Cape Vírgenes is a reference out of Magellanic penguins on the coast of Argentina and it also has the attraction of being the southernmost point of continental Argentina and America. Also, last but not least, there was created the first foundation of Patagonia in the sixteenth century and in the nineteenth century was the nerve center of the "gold rush".

A history marked by loneliness

Cape Vírgenes is called today in honor of the date on which Hernán de Magellanes first set foot on this land. It was October 21, 1521 and it was celebrated the day of the Eleven Thousand Virgins. In that place was erected the first foundation of the Patagonia: the ancient city of Name of Jesus. However, the fate of it and other early foundations in the extreme south of Argentina was marked by calamities and hardships, such as the food was very few, the inhospitable climate and supplies and help never came. And soon there was no one in the Name of Jesus. The malnourished and sick people died. Thus at the beginning of 1590 the privateer Andrew Merrick rescues the last survivor of the Spanish King Philip and embarked him on his ship, but he did not arrive alive in England. 

In 1857 the privateer square Thomas Cavendish saturates against King Philip. The dark side of colonialism, almost a mass grave, inspired thim he name of Port Famine.

In 1876 it was found in this place gold mixed with sand, but only in 1885 aroused the gold rush, following the sinking of a French ship in the area. As usual, the wreck was looted, but it was found more wealth in the sands than in the hold of steam, which charmed many men who camped there. The government itself was interested in highlighting the issue of Moyano aboard Villarino for the existence of gold metal. From that moment, Cape Vírgenes emerged in a few months as core village with shops, maritime assistantship, mining camps, workshops, police and expensive machinery for the extraction. But in a short period, when the harsh conditions of life in the place and the enormous difficulties discouraged miners, the cape border again a windswept Patagonia, a place of overwhelming loneliness in which nothing remains of that fantastic chimera.

Today you can look at both sides of the road towers and oil installations as Treatment Plant and Camp Cerro Redondo, both of YPF, which are barely visible signs of heavy exploitation that takes place in the area.

Nearby is an interesting colony of Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) that choose this site for courtship, egg laying and incubation.

In the Cape Vírgenes is the argentinean lighthouse of the same name, in operation since 1904. Its height is 26.5 meters and the scope of its light reaches 44 km.

Directions

Carry food and fuel.

They are 145 km of dirt road trip from Río Gallegos (km 0) taking the National Route 3 southbound. At km 12 you pass a police barrier control and at km 16 there is a roadside sign indicating a left turn to Provincial Route 1, from where they are 129 km to Cape Vírgenes. Continue until the Gendarmerie control at kilometer 90 and advance to the fork where you must turn right to arrive at the farm Monte Dinero, located near the international boundary. In this farm, sheep farming model, the Fenton family arranges visits to rookeries of sea lions and penguins, as well as meals and lodging by reservation. Since there are 13 kilometers of trail to Cape Vírgenes.

Viajes por la Patagonia

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