This map plots the settings and references in In Patagonia

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Patagonian landscape with Mt FitzRoy
GNU Free Documentation LicensePatagonian landscape with Mt FitzRoy in the background - Credit: Annalisa Parisi

Although Chatwin occasionally takes us out to sea with the great explorers, to the Wild West of Utah, to Lima to visit Charley Milward's daughter, and into the late 19th century London office of Wide World Magazine, these are all incidental to his main location, Patagonia.

Nicholas Shakespeare claims Chatwin got the starting point wrong for this imprecise region, placing it at Río Negro, instead of Río Colorado 120 kilometres further north. 'You know you are in Patagonia' says Shakespeare, 'when you see the rosados patagonicos, the basalt pebbles left behind by glaciers, and jarilla, the low bush that is its dominant flora.'

Patagonia covers an area of approximately 900,000 square kilometres, across Argentina and Chile. It is 900,000 square kilometres of emptiness, slashed on its western flank by the cordillera of the Southern and Central Andes forming the boundary between the two nations. Chatwin visits both, and without a detailed map the reader can feel like a pinball bouncing from one town to the next before departing for the nineteenth century.