Wild, haunting, and desolate, Patagonia is a land of jagged peaks, pristine lakes, shattered fjords and magnificent glaciers, perfect for outdoor activities such as trekking, kayaking, horse-riding, and mountain biking. Here are some of the best books and documentaries about Patagonia to read and watch while you're waiting to travel.
In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin
This seminal and groundbreaking work tells the story of the author's trip to “the uttermost part of the earth” in the 1970s. More than 40 years later, In Patagonia is still the quintessential book about the region. Chatwin's writes with an undeniable lust for life and adventure, his evocative descriptions and bewitching anecdotes about the people he encounters interspersed with remarkable slices of history. It creates a captivating picture of an area of the world that still seems distant and remote, even as those places become more few and far between.
“We talked late into the night, arguing whether or not we, too, have journeys mapped out in our central nervous systems; it seemed the only way to account for our insane restlessness."
The Old Patagonian Express: By Train Through the Americas by Paul Theroux
The Old Patagonian Express tells the story of Paul Theroux's train journey down the length of North and South America. Setting off from Boston, Massachusetts, he takes trains of all kinds as he travels to Argentina's most southerly tip. Unlike Chatwin, Theroux doesn't think much of the romantic myth of the nomad and the open road; he still travels with hope and with wonder, but he also expects discomfort and irritation, which are inseparable from life and living. This is a witty, sharp, and beautifully-written account of an epic railway journey to the vast expanses of Patagonia.
“What interests me is the waking in the morning, the progress from the familiar to the slightly odd, to the rather strange, to the totally foreign, and finally to the outlandish. The journey, not the arrival, matters; the voyage, not the landing.”
180° South (2010)
In 1968, Yvon Chouinard (fonder of the Patagonia clothing company) and Doug Tompkins (founder of the North Face) travelled from California to the heart of Patagonia, putting up a new route on Mount Fitz Roy, in what has become an iconic road trip. After seeing footage of the expedition, the photographer and adventurer Jeff Johnson made climbing the Corcovado Volcano his own life goal. The documentary 180° South follows Johnson as he retraces the steps of his heroes, meeting the people who live off the land and asking some stark questions about our relationship with the natural world. As Johnson says early on in the film, the best journeys answer questions that in the beginning you hadn't thought to ask.
A Line Across the Sky (2015)
The line referred to in the title is the Fitz Roy Massif near El Chaltén. A Line Across the Sky follows the climbers Tommy Caldwell and Alex Hannold as they attempt the ambitious four-mile, seven-summit traverse over five days. The Fitz Roy Traverse is one of the most sought after achievements in modern alpinism, and although you might not be inspired to attempt the climb itself, you will be inspired to visit and explore this spectacular area of natural beauty.
Overlanding Patagonia (2017)
Find out exactly what you're getting yourself in for with this short film made by Nicolas Bori on Dragoman Overland's Backroads of Patagonia tour. This tour takes you far off the beaten track to some of the region's most remote corners, to really experience Patagonian life.