Rural Patagonia

The ranches that dot the map from Torres del Paine National Park to Punta Arenas in Chile tell tales of a hard life. The gauchos — or baqueanos as they are known in Chile — are the horsemen and women who spend most of the year riding horses. Once home to some of the largest sheep ranches in the world, the Magallanes region of Chile now relies more on salmon and natural gas exports as principal industries. Those who still work on the ranches travel between towns and outposts in dusty pickup trucks through one of the least populated regions on Earth.

From the summer months of January to March, crowds of hundreds gather in small outposts like Cerro Castillo for horse-riding competitions called jineteadas. Some come from as far as Uruguay, roughly 2,200 miles away. Amid the tireless winds that bat the region, contestants mount untamed horses and attempt to ride for as long as they can, with categories for 6, 10 and 15 second rides. Folksingers strum away at guitars in the evening and barbecues continue past midnight. In this part of the extreme southern hemisphere, even when the sun goes down at 11:30pm, the sound of laughter and music lingers amid the dying embers.