To a Spanish speaker, the name of Puerto Madryn, a city of some 94,000 in northern Patagonia in Argentina, may look odd. That second word doesn’t appear to be Spanish, because it’s not. Love Jones-Parry, a prominent Welsh landowner, traveled to Patagonia in 1862 to determine whether the area was appropriate for Welsh settlers. When his ship was blown off course, he named the bay where it landed Porth Madryn, after his estate in Wales. In 1865, a group of 162 Welsh immigrants (other sources put the figure at 150), encouraged by Jones-Parry’s favorable reports, sailed to Argentina to establish the settlement known today as Puerto Madryn.
Traces of the city’s British roots remain — you can find restaurants that still serve afternoon tea. But for most travelers today, Puerto Madryn is best known as the gateway to the Península Valdés, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s home to significant populations of seals, sea lions and whales just offshore. While the natural wonders and the region’s fauna are the main draws, it’s worth spending some time exploring the restaurant-lined promenades and beaches that have made the city an increasingly popular resort destination.