By the time we arrived in Patagonia we had been traveling in South America for almost one month. Patagonia was what we really came here for and after a few days in Puerto Madryn it was time to visit the towns of Trelew & Gaiman. The latter will forever be immortalised through the classic book by Bruce Chatwin, “In Patagonia”, who entertained generations with his stories of a Welsh settled village which still embraced the customs, food and singing cultures of their ancestors from the valleys. But just outside of Gaiman is something pretty important: Bryn Gwyn Paleontology Park.
The Solar Eclipse
As we were eating the most miserable of breakfasts, a stale sugar croissant washed with an awful coffee, we heard on TV a Solar Eclipse was about to start. It would be possible to see it from Gaiman… So before heading to the paleontological park, we climbed a small hill in the centre of Gaiman. We were almost in the perfect position to view it. Neither of us had ever had the opportunity to see this spectacle from such a vantage point. We set up our cameras and wore 3 pairs or sunglasses for many reasons, including to look silly. It was amazing, even the attempts of vicious mosquitoes could not ruin this experience.
The fossils of Bryn Gwyn
Once the eclipse finished it was time to start our journey to reason # 2 for being in Gaiman. In 1993, paleontologists gave access to the public to an open-air desert, called “Bryn Gwyn” (White Hill in Welsh). The entire area was once part of the Atlantic Ocean seabed. It’s hard to imagine the sea in this huge dry desert. But the proof is that they found fossilised remains of many prehistoric sea creatures. It is now possible to set foot in this former ocean and follow a trail taking the visitor 40 million years back.
To get to the park from Gaiman we hitchhiked. Later we learned that the bus goes direct. We then managed to enter for free as the Park was redoing some exhibitions. We also got got to walk around the amazing landscape completely alone. It was amazing to be in a desert, yet to be walking over oyster shells. Now the only remains of the ocean. Along the walk, fossil exhibitions show the remains of sharks, penguins, dolphins and other sea creatures there were found. We followed the trail to the top of a hill from where we could see 365° over the valley. A gorgeous view that not many other places can offer.
During our visit we bumped into a very interesting but quite strange character… from what we understood, this Argentinian with the thickest american accent ever heard, was hiking around hoping to find Megalodon teeth. We did some research and these teeth of the size of a human hand are often sold on the market for more than a grand ! Unfortunately we didn’t find any.
Finding a place to stay in Trelew
We had a couple of reasons to visit Gaiman but first we had to base ourselves in the less than glamorous Welsh town of Trelew. Other than the MEF dinosaur museum showcasing fossils found nearby in Chubut Provence there really isn’t a lot to do here. There are however more accommodation options so we set about finding the only hostel in town.
After checking in and starting to unpack our bags in our dorm the manager came to find us and told us he made a mistake and our room was upstairs. What he didn’t tell us was that he wanted to put us in a smaller dorm room with an Argentinian family, including a crying baby whom they were in the process of changing diapers….We quickly did a U-turn to request a new room to the bewilderment of the owner who couldn’t understand why we wouldn’t want to share a dorm room with a crying baby. So we left and found a budget hotel.
Costs and useful information
Currency (average) : 1 € = 16.38 ARS
Bus Puerto Madryn – Trelew : 63.5 ARS (3.87€ pp)
Bus Trelew – Gaiman (return) : 64 ARS (3.90€ pp)
Hotel “City” – Double in Trelew : 700 ARS (43€ pn)
Entrance paleontologic park “Bryn Gwyn” : Free + hitch-hike to/from Gaiman – MEF website (in charge of the parc)
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