The Patagonian Steppe

Patagonian Steppe

The Patagonian Steppe is a vast region of dry, flat grasslands and scrubland that covers much of southern Argentina and parts of Chile. It is an arid and semi-arid region with a unique climate, characterized by strong winds and low rainfall.

The vegetation in the Patagonian Steppe is dominated by hardy shrubs and grasses that are adapted to the region’s harsh conditions. There are also many species of cacti and succulents that can store water for long periods of time.

What´s the extension of the Patagonian steppe?

The extension of the Patagonian steppe in Argentina is approximately 800,000 square kilometers. This vast region stretches from the province of Buenos Aires in the north to Tierra del Fuego in the south, and covers much of the provinces of La Pampa, Río Negro, Neuquén, Chubut, Santa Cruz, and a part of Buenos Aires province.

While the Patagonian steppe is the most well-known and extensive steppe in Argentina, there are actually other portions of steppe that exist outside of Patagonia.

One example is the Monte Desert, which is a large arid region that extends across several provinces in the northwestern part of Argentina, including Catamarca, La Rioja, San Juan, and Mendoza. The Monte Desert covers an area of approximately 260,000 square kilometers and is characterized by its rocky terrain, sparse vegetation, and extreme temperatures. Despite its harsh conditions, the Monte Desert is home to a variety of unique plants and animals, including cacti, lizards, and the Andean condor.

Another example is the Pampas, which is a fertile lowland region located in central Argentina that covers an area of approximately 750,000 square kilometers. While the Pampas is known for its grasslands, it also includes a portion of steppe characterized by shrubs and small trees. The steppe region of the Pampas is located primarily in the western part of the province of Buenos Aires, as well as parts of the provinces of Santa Fe, Córdoba, and La Pampa. It is home to a variety of wildlife, including armadillos, foxes, and the rhea, which is the largest bird native to South America.


The “Coiron”

The “Coirón” is a type of grass found in the southern regions of South America, particularly in Argentina and Chile. The Coirón is also known as “Festuca gracillima” or “Stipa ichu” and is a hardy, drought-resistant grass that is able to survive in arid and semi-arid environments.

The Coirón is an important component of the grasslands and steppe ecosystems in the region, providing food and shelter for a variety of animals such as guanacos, llamas, and rheas. It also plays an important role in preventing soil erosion and maintaining the health of the ecosystem.

The Coirón can grow up to 1.5 meters in height and has long, thin leaves that are rolled tightly together. It produces seed heads that are covered in sharp, needle-like bristles, which can be irritating to the skin and eyes.

The Patagonian Steppe and the wildlife

Despite its harsh conditions, the Patagonian Steppe is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including guanacos (a type of wild llama), foxes, armadillos, and a variety of bird species. The region is also home to some of the world’s most iconic species, such as the Andean condor and the puma.


The Patagonian steppe and the economy

The Patagonian steppe has significant economic potential for Argentina, with a variety of industries and activities that are well-suited to the region’s unique landscape and resources.

One of the most important economic activities in the Patagonian steppe is livestock farming, particularly sheep farming. The vast grasslands of the region provide ideal grazing conditions for sheep, and the Patagonian wool industry is a significant source of income for many communities in the region. In addition to sheep, cattle ranching is also common in the steppe, with many ranches producing high-quality beef for domestic and international markets.


Mining is another important economic activity in the Patagonian steppe, with several mines located throughout the region that extract a variety of minerals, including gold, silver, and copper. These mines provide employment opportunities and contribute significantly to Argentina’s economy.

Tourism is also an important industry in the Patagonian steppe, with many visitors drawn to the region’s stunning natural landscapes, including the Andes Mountains, glacial lakes, and expansive grasslands. Activities such as hiking, camping, fishing, and wildlife watching are popular with tourists and provide income for many local businesses.

Overall, the Patagonian steppe has significant economic potential and is an important contributor to Argentina’s economy, providing employment opportunities and supporting a variety of industries and activities.



A bit of history: aborigins who inhabited the patagonian steppe

The Patagonian Steppe has a rich cultural history. The Patagonian Steppe was historically inhabited by various indigenous groups who had adapted to the harsh environmental conditions of the region. Some of the main indigenous groups that lived in the Patagonian Steppe include:

The Tehuelches, also known as the Patagones, were a nomadic people who inhabited much of the Patagonian Steppe. They were skilled hunters and gatherers, relying on hunting guanacos and rheas, fishing, and gathering wild fruits and vegetables for their survival.

The Mapuche were a sedentary indigenous group that inhabited the western regions of the Patagonian Steppe, particularly in present-day Chile. They were skilled farmers, growing crops such as potatoes, corn, and beans, and also engaged in hunting and fishing.

Selk’nam people, also known as the Ona, the Selk’nam were a nomadic indigenous group who inhabited the eastern regions of the Patagonian Steppe. They were skilled hunters and gatherers, relying on hunting guanacos, foxes, and birds, and gathering wild fruits and vegetables.

The Puelches were a nomadic indigenous group who inhabited the northern regions of the Patagonian Steppe, particularly in present-day Argentina. They were skilled horsemen and engaged in hunting guanacos, foxes, and other wildlife. They were located in the northern portion of Patagonia.

These indigenous groups had rich cultures and traditions that were closely tied to the natural environment of the Patagonian Steppe. Today, many of these indigenous groups continue to live in the region and strive to maintain their cultural heritage and way of life.

Picture of Ramiro Rodriguez

Ramiro Rodriguez

25 years working in travel market, as Sales & Marketing Manager in RipioTurismo, Marketing Manager in Nuevas Ideas Travel Consulting Group. Writer and travel lover.

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