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Cowboys at the End of the World

In the Argentinean Patagonia, these cowboys are expert guides to a wild land where gaucho families connect travelers to a traditional way of life.

Erick Pinedo

At the southernmost tip of the American continent, an archipelago flanked by the last mountains of the Andes preserves a way of life deeply linked to the inhospitable nature of this land. Descendants of European immigrants settled in Argentine Patagonia, learning to navigate the hostile territory of pampas, forests, peatlands, and mountains that comprises what original explorers called Tierra del Fuego—Land of Fire.

Here, at what some nicknamed “the end of the world,” settlers developed a culture based on the arduous field work needed to survive the low temperatures and the rugged geography of the continental south.

Skillful equestrians and traditional ranchers, these gauchos led a mostly nomadic life free from government intervention—although they participated in civil and independence wars. Over time they became national and cultural symbols of contemporary Argentina. Among these cowboys from the Pampean Plains, a specific profession particularly stood out: the baqueanos, skilled and trained guides—many of them mestizos with European and Indigenous roots—whose knowledge was historically used by Argentine army generals, ensuring successful campaigns.

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