Gŵyl y Glaniad 2015
Enjoy this excellent account we received from one of our happy customers of their trip of a lifetime to Welsh Patagonia! Mr and Mrs Davies travelled with us as part of the Gŵyl y Glaniad (landings festival) Group Tour in 2015, read more to find out all about their trip and what kinds of things they got up to on their time away!
Whilst walking the Maes at the Llanelli Eisteddfod in 2014, we wondered in to the Teithiau Tango tent and looked at the display as well as having an informative discussion with the attending staff. Over a coffee break we perused the brochures and by lunch time we were excited that Patagonia could be our next adventure.
A visit to the company office in Aberystwyth, while in the area on a fishing and walking trip, led to a further discussion which confirmed the venture, and a deposit was paid for Gwyl y Glaniad in July and August 2015.
The next months passed expectantly. A wealth of reading and on-line research served to increase the anticipation for the endeavour. On July 22nd we set off for Heathrow and the flight to Buenos Aires.
It was exhilarating to re-acquaint ourselves with the city we had visited in 2007 on our way to Ushuaia, South Georgia and the Antarctic.
The comfort of the excellent hotel accommodation; the friendly welcome and attention of the local guide together with the Tango entertainment and city tour proved a first class ice-breaker. The inevitable apprehension of what sort of group would we be travelling with rapidly mellowed and dissolved and the diverse group whose backgrounds ranged from Cardiff to Ceredigion and Glasgow to Adelaide quickly gelled to a harmonious company of fellow travellers united by a shared sense of humour. The unity further accentuated by the fact that the world is a small place and we were amazed to find that our Australian participant Alan was in school with me at Ardwyn in the 50’s and 60’s and we had met Richard from Cardiff on the summit of one of the hills in the Brecon Beacons in February.
On Saturday evening we arrived in Trelew to be met by Jeremy, our guide in Patagonia. The next four days and nights in and around Porth Madryn provided a fascinating series of experiences centred on the 150th anniversary celebrations with invitations to participate in and view the enactment of the original landings at the very sit at which they had taken place. There were friendly invitations to attend celebratory gatherings at Welsh teas; attendences at concerts and a Cymanfa Ganu, as well as first class seats at the superb gala night. We met many Patagonian Welsh whom we had but heard of prior to our trip, from the Trelew and Gaiman areas as well as others who had travelled across for the occasion from the Andes. We spoke to the media and met various local dignitaries as well as many from Wales. The busy celebratory social life was interspersed with exciting visits to the World Heritage sites at Peninsular Valdes. The landscape, the quantity and variety of the wildlife, was a revelation and the ability to watch Southern Right Whales from the beach awe inspiring.
Visits to a diversity of historic chapels were enhanced further by the opportunity to hear the old harmoniums played brilliantly by our group member Mary and Calon Lan was sung with pleasurable passion on several occasions. Superb meals shared with local Welsh speaking Patagonians, welcoming asados, museums and spectacular dinosaurs eloquently prepared us for the journey we were to embark upon in crossing the Paith.
The journey to Los Altares and on to Gualjaina through vast wilderness on remote dirt roads and isolated tracks in a landscape of every changing wonderment was almost a sensory overload, tempered by emotional encounters with sites of historic significance such as Dyffryn Williams, where some of the early pioneers had met an unfortunate end. Cerro Condor school and its dedicated headmistress was a humbling experience, an establishment with very few pupils and very limited resources but having its own dinosaur and dinosaur fossil museum and a dedicated commitment to educating the children of the remote community. Close encounters with Condors, breath-taking rock formations , an incredible drive into a vast volcanic caldera provided a stunning prologue to arrival at Cwm Hyfryd and Esquel.
The courage and determination of the early pioneers impressed all and the welcome by their decedents in Esquel and Trevelin was an incredible experience. Further convivial Welsh teas with lively Welsh conversation, hospitable asados, visits to a working traditional water mill and a talented jewellery craftsman all within close proximity to the spectacular backdrop of the Andes and Gorsedd y Cwml provided a memorable climax to an adventure full of astonishment and emotional respect to what had been achieved by the ancestors of our cordial and generous hosts. Our guides flexibility and creativity based on outstanding local knowledge also helped Ann, as the only non-Welsh speaker and keen geologist to gain a huge amount of adventure and she is extremely grateful for the kindness shown to her.
The country, the landscapes and wildlife were outstanding and the people were welcoming, generous and friendly which contributed hugely and very significantly to the exceptional success of the venture. It will remain very high in our galaxy of travel memories as well as an ongoing pleasure to reflect on an unforgettable and positive experience. As is said in Patagonia “tan tro nesaf” – till the next time!
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