The first Europeans to discover Argentina and Patagonia, such as Spaniard Juan Díaz de Solis and Portuguese sailor Ferdinand Magellan, may be some of the best known explorers of the region. However, numerous famous Argentinians have been celebrated for their adventures in and around Argentina, finding themselves a place in the history books.
Four famous Argentinians from throughout history
Francisco ‘Perito’ Moreno (1852-1918)
An important naturalist, geographer and explorer, Francisco Moreno played a significant role in the early explorations of Patagonia.
In 1872, he helped to found the Argentine Scientific Society and then led a series of expeditions, starting with a trip to the unchartered territory of the Río Negro Region, in what is now the northern edges of Patagonia. In 1876, he returned to the area to explore as far as Lake Nahuel-Huapi, on the shores of which sits modern day Bariloche.
The following year, he discovered and baptized Lake Argentino, in the Santa Cruz Region. Glaciers Perito Moreno and Upsala feed into this lake and the former glacier was named after Moreno.
In recognition of his important role in exploring Argentine Patagonia, he was awarded the Royal Geographical Society’s Founder’s Medal in 1907.
He also founded the La Plata Museum of Natural History – at the time considered to be one of the most important anthropological museum in the world – as well as the Scouting and Guiding movements in Argentina in 1912.
Ramón Lista (1856-1897)
Ramón Lista was an important figure in helping to discover and explore parts of Patagonia, although his excursions led to great controversy.
In 1879, his first trip to Patagonia was sponsored by the Scientific Society and allowed him to explore the modern day regions of Santa Cruz and Punta Arenas, where he surveyed the coast.
During the following decade, he traveled to Tierra del Fuego on a journey that would be severely criticized by contemporary explorers. Exploring from the east coast at Cape San Sebastián to Bahia Thetis, his group, including twenty-five soldiers, were confronted by a group of native inhabitants. Lista gave the order to fight, resulting in the loss of life of twenty-eight indigenous men and women.
He died in mysterious circumstances just before the turn of the century and his legacy was characterized by a recognition of his important contribution to the exploration of Patagonia, as well as marred by controversy and his treatment of indigenous people.
Che Guevara (1928-1967)
Che Guevara is perhaps the best known of this group of famous Argentinians thanks to his role in the guerrilla campaigns that deposed the Batista regime in Cuba and his solidarity with the leader of the revolution, Fidel Castro.
However, Che Guevara is another person known for his adventures through Argentina and South America. In 1952, he left Buenos Aires to travel around the continent, recording his escapades in his renowned memoir, The Motorcycle Diaries.
During this period, Guevara and his friend Alberto Granado traveled over 5,000-miles (8,000km), crossing the Andes, the Atacama Desert and even the Amazon Rainforest.
President of Fundación Criteria, a not-for-profit organization committed to seeking the protection and development of human kind, Santiago Tito is a modern-day Argentine adventurer. In 2016, Tito led the first Argentine expedition to the North Pole.
Although they arrived at the North Pole on 22 April, 107 years after it was first reached, and supported by GPS and other modern technology, the expedition still aimed to do something memorable: they sought to highlight the terrible impact that global warming has had on the remotest parts of the planet.
They carried a banner asking world leaders to “protect our climate and our current home” and hoped that the expedition would draw global attention to climate change, which they saw first hand when they were delayed by a week due to unexpected ice melting in the Arctic.