The vast expanse of Argentina‘s Patagonia hides a secret on its eastern coast. Y Wladfa, as its name suggests, is not your typical Argentine location – this quirky spot on the windy shores of Chubut province is actually a Welsh settlement, established in 1865. Read on for more on Argentina’s Welsh heritage.
The story of Y Wladfa (in English, ‘the colony’), is not an altogether atypical one for a country that was well known for welcoming immigrants from Europe during the late 19th century. In the early 1800s, as with many other similar areas, parts of rural Wales began to be severely depopulated as people moved to more prosperous cities that were benefitting from the industrial revolution. Those who wished for a different life altogether cast their gaze westward, with the idea of setting up Welsh colonies on the continent of America.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Moving to the Americas
As a result, a number of Welsh settlements were founded in the US – such was the success of these towns that the elders looked further afield, first to Canada and then to Patagonia in Argentina to expand the Welsh hold on the Americas. This was also desirable as the Argentine government was prepared to allow new settlers to retain their culture and heritage, something that had been lost in the American towns as the settlers had become anglicised. In turn, the arrival of the new settlers suited Argentina, as the country would have people to populate a region that Chile had been intending to claim as their own.
The first Welsh town
And so, in 1865, some 200 Welshmen set sail on the tea-clipper Mimosa and landed in the now city of Puerto Madryn after only eight weeks at sea. However, they were met with dismal surroundings that bore no resemblance to the lush pastures they had been promised, and they were forced to rely on the good nature of the native Teheulche Indians to teach them how to hunt to survive in the barren lands. Eventually capable of moving on, they explored further afield, reaching the corner of the Chubut valley where the first colony town of Rawson would be established.
Development of the colony
Welsh migration into the area continued over the next decade or so, with notable achievements being the first irrigation system in the country put into place by settler Rachel Jenkins. This led to the transformation of the area from desolate and unproductive terrain, to a flourishing agricultural landscape, which would in turn attract other immigrants who would eventually dilute the Welsh population, as would Argentine state intervention to bring the colony to federal heel.
Welsh Patagonia today
While there are still many towns and villages that have Welsh names, the spoken language itself has nearly entirely waned to approximately 2,000 speakers across the main towns in the area: Gaiman, Trelew and Trevelin.
However, over 50,000 Argentines claim Welsh descent, and elements of Welsh culture still persist in the area, such as the region’s many tea houses serving bara brith cake, the rugby matches still widely played in Patagonia, and the ‘Eisteddfod‘ cultural festivals that are organised by the community.
The colony celebrated its 150th birthday in 2015, and many were happy to see the influx of tourists who came to partake in the festivities.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.