Introducing Puerto Deseado
Some 125km southeast of the RN 3 junction, RN 281 weaves through valleys of rippling pink rock, past guanacos in tufted grassland, to end at the serene and attractive deep-sea-fishing town of Puerto Deseado. While the town is ripe for revitalization, it is also apparent that change takes a glacial pace here: witness the vintage trucks rusting on the streets like beached cetaceans. But the draw of the historic center, plus the submerged estuary of Ría Deseado, brimming with seabirds and marine wildlife, make Puerto Deseado a worthy detour.
In 1520 the estuary provided shelter to Hernando de Magallanes after a crippling storm waylaid his fleet; he dubbed the area ‘Río de los Trabajos’ (River of Labors).
In 1586 English privateer Cavendish explored the estuary and named it after his ship Desire, its name today. The port attracted fleets from around the world for whaling and seal hunting, compelling the Spanish crown to send a squadron of colonists under the command of Antonio de Viedma. After a harsh winter, more than 30 of them died of scurvy. Those who survived moved inland to form the short-lived colony of Floridablanca. In 1834 Darwin surveyed the estuary, as did Perito Moreno in 1876.
Puerto Deseado is two hours southeast of the RN 3 junction at Fitz Roy via dead-end RN 281. The center of activity is the axis formed by main streets San Martín and Almirante Brown.