Less obviously tourist-oriented than Puerto Madryn, the Río Chubut city of Trelew retains more visible remnants of its Welsh birthright than its oceanside sister city. It also offers access to the lower Chubut Welsh communities of Gaiman and Dolavon, the dolphin-watching beach resort of Playa Unión, and the massive penguin colonies at Punta Tombo.
Its own attraction, though, is the state-of-the-art paleontological museum that documents Argentina’s dramatic dinosaur discoveries of recent decades.
Dating from 1886, when the railroad united Puerto Madryn with the lower Chubut’s farm towns, Trelew takes its name from Welsh colonist and railroad promoter Lewis Jones (in Welsh, tre means town while lew was an abbreviation of Lewis). It has since absorbed several waves of immigration—Italians and Spaniards, as well as Argentines from elsewhere in the country—and boom-and-bust cycles thanks to the wool industry, customs preferences, and industrial promotion.
Despite the changes, Trelew has retained its Welsh identity in events like the Eisteddfod (a poetry and music festival) and other cultural activities.
On the Río Chubut’s north bank, Trelew (pop. 88,397) is 65 kilometers south of Puerto Madryn and 377 kilometers northeast of Comodoro Rivadavia via RN 3. It is 608 kilometers west of Esquel via paved RN 25, RP 62, and RN 40.
Getting to Trelew
With offices in the bus terminal, LADE (Urquiza 150, tel. 02965/43-5740) flies sporadically to Aeroparque as well as southern and western Patagonian destinations.
The Terminal de Ómnibus (Urquiza 150, tel. 02965/42-0121) is six blocks northeast of Plaza Independencia.
Mar y Valle (tel. 02965/43-2429) has regular service to Puerto Pirámides, leaving Trelew at 7:45 a.m., with additional summer service; from Puerto Madryn, Mar y Valle goes to Puerto Pirámides at 8:55 a.m. daily, with added departures at 5 and 6:45 p.m. in summer and during whale-watching season. El Ñandú (tel. 02965/42-7499) goes to the coastal town of Camarones at 8 a.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Typical destinations, times, and fares include Camarones (3.5 hours, US$7), Puerto Pirámides (3 hours, US$5.50), Comodoro Rivadavia (5 hours, US$18–21), Esquel (9 hours, US$25–38), Neuquén (10 hours, US$29–40), Río Gallegos (16 hours, US$48–62), Bariloche (11 hours, US$49–68), and Buenos Aires (21 hours, US$62–92).
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Argentina, 3rd edition