Río Turbio - Photos: Jorge González
Hills with glacial moraines, lakes and forests shelter the City of Río Turbio in the surroundings of the Chilean border, at the southwestern end of the Province of Santa Cruz. It is accessed from the City of Río Gallegos along National Route 40, after traveling along 278 kilometers. It may also be reached from El Calafate (through La Esperanza), 320 kilometers. To locate it through GPS, enter 51º 35' southern latitude and 72º 17' western longitude.
Known as the Argentinian coal capital, its population is mostly made up by workers employed by the coal field. Mina 1 is the first evidence of the mining activity in the area back in the 1940s, when coal exploitation started to stop importing this product from England. At present, it may be visited to spread awareness of what working in that dark tunnel means.
Río Turbio is surrounded by hills and valleys with good pastures crossed by creeks, which makes this a favorable location for cattle. The estancias, with their remodeled facilities, have opened their gates to tourism and visitors have the chance to take part in rural tasks such as branding, sheep shearing and cattle driving.
Just 5 kilometers away from the center of the city, there lies Valdelen Winter Sports Center. Its trails run across lenga and ñire forests where downhill and cross-country ski are practiced. The peaks of Torres del Paine and the channels of the Pacific in Chile may be spotted from the top.
Another attraction in Río Turbio is the sculpture park known as Bosque de Duendes (Goblins Forest). Year after year, sculptors from all over the country carve their woodworks and contribute new sculptures made of lenga logs found in the area.
One of the features of the local woods is the change of color of the lenga leaves into red in the fall. Winter brings a white snow blanket that gives a ghostly appearance to the area. Colors change everyday.
The Snow Provincial Festival, held every year in August, and the Coal National Festival in December summon many visitors who take part in these popular events that include sport, cultural and recreational activities.
Río Turbio is a border population and only 30 kilometers stand between this urban settlement and Puerto Natales in Chile, from where Torres el Paine is accessed. San José Dam and the seven cascades are emblematic sites where outdoor activities and bird watching are enjoyed in the summer.
Immersed in a Patagonian scene with cold mountain range climate and strong snowfalls in the winter, Río Turbio offers magnificent chances for the development of regional tourism.