Monday, October 16, 2017

* Valdivia, Chile, Tourist Places


City of Valdivia, Chile.
   Valdivia, located 854 km south of Santiago is the capital of the Region de Los Rios (Region of Rivers). Founded in 1552, it is the fourth city of Chile in order of antiquity. Its main feature are precisely the beautiful rivers that cross and surround it, not for nothing sometimes Valdivia has been compared to the city of Venice.  Throughout this zone of Southern Chile, there is a great influence of the German colonization, in the architecture as well as in different areas of the production: agriculture, livestock, development of the dairy industry, brewery, sausages and cold cut meats, etc.  This city, characterized by its tranquility and beautiful river landscapes, in May 1960 suffered the ravages of the greatest earthquake ever instrumentally recorded, of magnitude 9.5 on the Richter scale, with an approximate duration of 10 minutes. The mega-earthquake and subsequent Tsunami affected much of southern Chile and its effects were perceived in places as far away as Hawaii and Japan. However "The City of Rivers" stood up again and today is one of the most touristic of Chile, supported by its fascinating natural environment. In addition to tourism, the economic activity also shows a development in the areas of shipbuilding, cellulose, wood processing, brewing and food industry.

Places to visit in Valdivia

Mercado Municipal and Feria Fluvial

     In the heart of Arturo Prat Waterfront. The Municipal Market stands out for its solid architecture and active trade, here there are seafood, fruits, vegetables and local crafts. In front of the Mercado Municipal, bordering the river, is located the Feria Fluvial, these 2 markets, for the movement they represent and for the natural environment, are one of the main tourist attractions of Valdivia. Attractive protagonists of the surroundings are also the Sea Wolves, waiting expectantly that the merchants throw the leftovers for them to feed.

Muelle Schuster (Schuster Dock)

     Located on one side of the Feria Fluvial (river market), this is an important place for trade and tourism because here arrive the boats bringing the seafood and agricultural products that are offered in the markets. Also from this terminal depart the tourism boats that make various excursions through the rivers of the region.

Museo Mauricio van de Maele

     The Maurice van de Maele Historical and Anthropologic Museum, also known as Casa Carlos Anwandter, is a House- Museum located at Isla Teja, run by the Universidad Austral de Valdivia. The house was built by the German settler Karl Anwandter back in the 1860s. Founded in 1956, the museum's name remembers to the Belgian university teacher who dedicated long decades to the protection of the regional heritage. In October 1981, it was declared a National Historic Monument. The tour through its valuable collections allows to know the history of a society from 12,000 years ago to the modern era, including the Hispanic presence from the time of the Conquistadors to the post-independence of Chile and all the influence of the German colonization since 1850.

Jardin Botanico Universidad Austral de Chile 

     Located in the Campus of the main University of Valdivia at Teja Island. The Botanical Garden is a place of leisure for all nature lovers and outdoor laboratory for the University. With more than 950 species, its collections of living plants are arranged with scientific criteria, individually classified. Currently the Botanic Garden is in a master plan that will position it as a World-Class Park and great tourist attraction.

Parque Saval

     Adjacent to the Botanic Garden of Isla Teja is located Parque Saval, nowadays the most important green, outdoor recreational area of the city. Here are held many massive events such as concerts and  "La Fiesta de la Cerveza" (Valdivia's Beer Fest). The park has several attractions such as lagoons with Lotus flowers, a Rodeo "Half Moon", Playgrounds, Equestrian facility, recreational trails, "Quinchos" (grill and roast sheds), picnic areas, Canopy during the high season.

Parque Oncol

     Parque Oncol is a Private Nature Reserve belonging to the Arauco Forestry Company, a place privileged by nature located 28 Km. from Valdivia. The Reserve seeks to protect the Valdivian Temperate Rainforest, an ecosystem developed under very special geographic and climatic conditions, unique in Latin America and very rare to find a similar one in the rest of the planet. A wonderful excursion with trails, viewpoints and a route that ascends to the top of Oncol Hill, from where you can see the Pacific towards the W. and, if the weather is good, for the E. volcanoes of the Andes on the horizon.

Fuerte de Niebla - Museo de Sitio Castillo de Niebla

     Located in the bay of Corral, 18 km from the city of Valdivia, was part of the system of forts of the city. The "Casa del Castellano", stone reconstruction from 1991-1992, houses the permanent exhibition, the fortification consisted of thick walls, castles and cannon artillery. Among other structures are also the ruins of the chapel, chaplain's house, warehouse and ammunitions dump.  The Niebla Museum has become a tourist attraction and one of which has the largest number of visitors among the national museums.

Museo de la Cerveza de Cerveceria Kunstmann (Kunstmann Beer Museum)

     As a land of German pioneers, there are several small breweries, included in the local tourist circuits. A must- see in the city is the Kunstmann Brewery an the visit to the adjacent Beer Museum. The gallery shows the history of the brewing company, based on the German Beer Purity Law (Reinheitsgebot) of 1516, decreed by William IV Duke of Bavaria, and under the precepts of elaboration of Carl Anwandter, who founded the former Anwandter Brewery in 1851.

City of Valdivia, South of Chile.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

* Chile and the World Travel Awards

     Hello dear readers, I want to share a news with you, an achievement hard to beat in its field: Within the framework of the World Travel Awards, equivalent to the Oscars of the Travel Industry, Chile was crowned for the third consecutive year as the Best Adventure Tourism Destination 2017, leaving behind other major countries of the region such as Argentina, Brasil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Uruguay. The ceremony was held in Mexico, and now, with this important achievement, the country aspires to win the Award for the second straight year at Global level, which will be conferred on December 10, 2017 in Vietnam. It is worth mentioning that since 1993, World Travel Awards has been continuously recognizing, through the direct vote of the people, the best exponents of each area of the Tourism Industry.

Popular Tourist Places in Chile 

City of Iquique and San Pedro de Atacama 

Geysers of El Tatio in Northern Chile.
Geysers of El Tatio, Atacama Desert. Photo:
      At the extreme North stands out the city of Iquique,  considered as one of the ten best places in the world to paraglide, besides having Historical Museums, an important Duty Free Zone and temperate beaches, with the best conditions for Surfing and water sports. Located a bit further South, in the province of El Loa, and well into the Desert you can visit San Pedro de Atacama, of an immense archaeological wealth, and whose main source of income is Tourism. Besides the R. P. Gustavo Le Paige Archaeological Museum, San Pedro de Atacama is surrounded by major attractions such as El Tatio Geyser Field, the largest in the Southen Hemisphere, El Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon), the Atacama Salt Flat, ALMA Astronomical Observatory, the largest facility of its kind in the World among many other attractions. 

City of La Serena

     Located in IV Coquimbo Region, also known as "Norte Chico" (Chile's Near or Small North),  stands out the city of La Serena, founded by the Spanish in 1544, the second oldest city in Chile after the capital Santiago. Currently, La Serena is one of the most sought after tourist destinations in Chile. A regional capital which combines harmoniously its rich colonial architecture and the comforts of a moden city at the same time. It is also popular by its beaches, green spaces, shopping malls, etc. 

Viña del Mar, the "Garden City"  

     Located in Chile's V Valparaiso Region and called "The Garden City", Viña del Mar has been par excellence the capital of national tourism regarding Beaches, Entertainment Centers and Popular Music Festivals. Strategically located on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, next to Valparaiso, the main commercial and military port of Chile and just over 100 km from Santiago, the capital. Today, Viña del Mar, together with the neighboring city of Valparaiso and other smaller communes practically make up a single urban area, the Metropolitan Area of Valparaiso.

The Chilean Capital

     Santiago de Chile or simply Santiago, is the main urban center and capital of the country. It is a large and modern city of approximately 7,000,000 inhabitants, made up in total of 37 communes, with Santiago being its hub. In recent decades the Chilean Capital, at the foot of the Cordillera de Los Andes,  has become one of the most sought after places to visit in Latin America, because of its beautiful natural setting and many attractions, both inside and outside Santiago de Chile. Besides Santiago, as well the rest of the country, has strongly grown as a Shopping Destination, especially forb the visitors of the neighboring Argentine Republic. Currently, the Chilean capital has been called "the Miami" of South America, due to the opportunities offered in the commercial, business and tourist areas.

Tourism in Southern Chile

     The so- called "Sur de Chile", which covers the Regions of Biobio, La Araucania, Los Rios and Los Lagos, is one of the five natural regions in which Chile has been traditionally divided. The South of Chile is another of the destinations not to be missed, privileged zone in the World, owner of a unique scenic beauty. Forest and vegetation are abundant, full of unforgettable landscapes among dozen volcanoes, lakes and rivers. The main cities are Concepcion, Talcahuano, Temuco, Valdivia, Osorno and Puerto Montt. One of the places you can not miss is Pucon, a famous resort town, in either Summer or Winter, on the shores of Lago Villarrica and facing the homonymous volcano. Here you can find tourists from all over the World. Other must-sees are the tourist village of Licanray, on the shores of Lago Calafquen; the city of Valdivia, capital of Los Rios Region, which in 1960 suffered the brunt of the strongest earthquake ever recorded in human history but today transformed into one of the most beautiful cities in Chile, full of traditions of German settlers; Puerto Varas, town on the shores of Lago Llanquihue with fantastic view of Volcan Osorno; Puerto Montt, capital of Los Lagos Region, located just over 1000 km South of Santiago, on Reloncavi Gulf, famous for its cuisine rich in seafood and point of departure towards many other interesting spots; finally and in order not to prolong this listing too much, I must mention the Chiloe Archipelago, last refuge of the Spanish during the Independence period, a place with countless beautiful islands to visit, a very typical architecture as well as its folk music and very particular culinary traditions.

Tourist Places of Patagonia

Adventure Tourism in Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, Chilean Patagonia.
     Patagonia is a vast territory on the Southern tip of South America, shared by Chile and Argentina. Although the Chilean side of Patagonia is a little smaller, it has great natural attractions making it one of the favourite destinations for Adventure Tourism lovers from around the World. Although there is discrepancy about where the Patagonia (Chilean side) begins in the North, the most traditional stance indicates that Chilean Patagonia includes the Regions of Aysen and Magallanes, excluding the Antarctic Territory. Without a doubt, the most important city of Patagonia is Punta Arenas, also called "The Capital of Patagonia", although this as such has no capital because it is a binational region. Other important but smaller cities are Puerto Natales, Porvenir, Puerto Williams and in the Region of Aysen Coyhaique, Puerto Aysen and Chacabuco.

     Just to name some of the Touristic Circuits in Patagonia: Torres del Paine National Park, recognized as "The Eighth Wonder of the World", the city of Punta Arenas, strategically located on the Strait of Magellan; the island of Tierra del Fuego, shared between Chile and Argentina, very little inhabited in the Chilean part but one of the most growing tourist destination in recent years for its extraordinary sport fishing, natural parks, snowy mountains and galleries of glaciers in the south end. The world-renowned Cabo de Hornos is located at the subantarctic Patagonia, forming part of the southernmost national park in Chile and the World. Cape Horn is considered the Everest of sailing sailors. The provincial capital of the Cape Horn area is Puerto Williams, still a small town of less than 3000 inhabitants, being in fact the southernmost village in the World, located South of the Argentine city of Ushuaia. Unforgettable for travelers are the tourist cruises around the Strait of Magellan, Cape Horn, the southern fjords and the glaciers that slide down into the Beagle Channel. There are touristic circuits offering different programs, by the "Cruceros Australis" shipping company. The city of Punta Arenas, because of its solid airport and maritime infrastructure, besides its proximity to the White Continent, also offers great advantages for the development of the incipient Antarctic Tourism.  

      The Patagonian Region of Aysen, offers wonderful tourist postcards, highlighting the Carretera Austral (Southern Highway), or Route 7, of a little more than 1200 Km., a spectacular way to know this part of Patagonia, a sparsely populated region but with countless natural attractions such as the Queulat National Park, with its hanging glacier, the Termas de Puyuhuapi (Puyuhuapi Lodge and Thermal Baths) in the middle of a spectacular landscape, the Catedral de Marmol (Marble Cathedral), an impressive group of mineral formations of Calcium Carbonate at General Carrera Lake. Another great highlight when visiting Aysen is Laguna San Rafael National Park, with its great attraction the San Rafael Glacier, one of the most sought after tourist destinations in the region. 

Easter Island (Rapa Nui)  

      Separate chapter deserves this small Polynesian island, in the middle of the South Pacific, whose closest point on the Chilean coast is 3700 Km. away. Worldwide known for its Moai, stone giants scattered throughout Rapa Nui which until today leave us many questions, for the spectacular volcanoes that gave rise to the island and  the small beaches of turquoise waters. Its archaeological sites, as fascinating as enigmatic, contain remains of a great culture now disappeared but that reached great splendor in spite of the remoteness of the place. In addition, Easter Island is a privileged place for the practice of Submarine Sports such as Diving, where every year hundreds of tourists arrive attracted by the great visibility and richness of the seabed, rich in tropical fish, marine wildlife and volcanic lava caves. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

* Places to visit in Patagonia

Torres del Paine National Park, Chilean Patagonia
Torres del Paine National Park - Photo:
     Traditionally, the term "Patagonia", had been associated only to the Argentine Republic, for the excellent promotion carried out by the country of its natural beauty and for the importance given to the region.   However in recent years, the Chilean Government and Private Companies have also been strongly promoting the natural attractions of this part so distant from the rest of the World. 

     Patagonia, Chilean side, is the southernmost region of the Americas and is made up by the southern part of the Region de Los Lagos (Region of Lakes), Region of Aysen and Region of Magallanes, excluding the Chilean Antarctic Territory.   Because of the wild geography of this part of the World, land connectivity  through these regions is only via Argentine territory, however a regular airline and ferry service is always available. The sea voyage between Puerto Montt and Puerto Natales (or vice versa) is a very recommendable choice to get to know the stunning natural beauty of Patagonia through its channels and fjords, sailing near thick woods as well as glaciers and ice fields, still-living protagonists of the last Glacial Era.      

    Another very recommendable way to explore the Region of Aysen,  part of Patagonia, is through the Carretera Austral (Austral Highway), ranked one of the most beutiful roads all over the World,  of more than 1,200 Km. long, mostly gravel, gorgeous views, from Puerto Montt to Villa O'Higgins town, gateway to the Southern Ice Fields. The landscapes around Patagonia are magnificent and, in  many cases, in places never touched by human being as the population density is very low (it hardly reaches 1 inhabitant per Km2).      

     According to my own experience, living here for decades, the climate of Chilean Patagonia, as well as throughout the World, has undergone significant changes in recent years, the temperatures of the Sub-Antarctic area have risen approaching the temperatures that Northern Patagonia had decades ago. Anyway, I can say that, as a main feature,  the Channels area has a rainy, moderately cold climate while in the inland the climate is usually drier with lower temperatures. The annual rain average in Punta Arenas is 440 mm. but in Evangelistas Island these can reach well over 2000 mm. In summer the weather is unstable and often can register all 4 seasons in one day. At this time the wind can easily exceed 120 km / hour, in the Avenues of Punta Arenas dozens of trees with twisted trunks are silent victims of its constant fury. Temperatures in the summer can rise to 18 ° C or a little more, but the microclimate of the area of Torres del Paine park enables these occasionally hover around 25 ° C.   Between December 15 to January 15 in Sub- Antarctic  Patagonia  the  daylight can last until about 23:00 Hrs. and a new dawn begins around 03:00 Hrs., looking in the distance to the south, it may be appreciated that the sky never darkens completely. The harshness from one winter to another can vary significantly, but the temperature in a normal day can go from about 0 ° C to 5 ° CUntil a few years ago, one of the main features of winter in Patagonia was the almost total absence of wind, which today has changed to a large extent since winds can easily reach 120 km/h or more in any month of the year.

What to see in Southern Patagonia, Chile


Torres del Paine National Park

Torres del Paine National Park
     One of the major tourist attractions in Chile, 312 Km. North of Punta Arenas. Many tours are offered in the local tourist agencies to visit this gorgeous place, chosen "The Eighth Wonder of the World" by, with more than five million votes throughout the World.  The Park, created in 1959, covers an area of 242,242 Hs. and in 1978 was declared Biosphere World Reserve by the UNESCO. A chain of mountains of granite walls and snowcapped peaks, lakes of turquoise waters and rivers that come from the neighboring Southern Ice Fields make up –without a doubt-, one of the most beautiful views anywhere. Its great attractions and rugged geography make it one of the most sought after by lovers of ecology and adventure sports.  The best time to visit Parque Nacional Torres del Paine is from November to March. It has a great implementation that provides security and ease to tour the Park. After a major forest fire occurred years ago, there is a very strict rule in the sense of not lighting fires in unauthorized places, the banning is informed in detail to visitors upon entering the park.

Tierra del Fuego Island  (Land of Fire)

King Penguin Colony, Tierra del Fuego Island.
     Tierra del Fuego, by far the largest island of Chile, located in the South end of South America, is one of the most emerging tourist destinations in the country. Its territory is shared with Argentina, which, despite having the smallest part, has managed to take intelligent advantage of its natural attractions. It would suffice to name the city of Ushuaia or the Sport Fishing in Rio Grande and surroundings lakes. There are also many reasons to visit the Chilean side of Tierra del Fuego, although to visit those places located to the South of the town of Porvenir, it is recommended to do so only in the Spring and Summer seasons, due to the harsh climate. Tierra del Fuego is reached from Punta Arenas either by plane after a short flight or crossing the Strait of Magellan, which links the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. 

     Among the main attractions of Tierra del Fuego, Chilean side, can be mentioned its capital Porvenir, name that translated into English means "The Future", but whose constructions transport us to a past of pioneers who were mainly engaged in gold mining and livestock; Karukinka Natural Park, a Private Reserve run by the International NGO "Wildlife Conservation Society", home to many native species of plants and animals of the sub-Antarctic region; the practice of Sport Fishing in the South of the Island, highlighting World-class places such as Blanco and Deseado Lakes, Rivers Grande, Azopardo, Condor, and many others; Alberto de Agostini National Park, the third largest National Reserve, located at the southern end of the Region de Magallanes y Antartica Chilena. Here, apart from the Darwin Mountain Range, which forms its backbone, there is a gallery of beautiful glaciers that fall into the Beagle Channel, a dense sub-Antarctic vegetation and a rich fauna ranging from Albatrosses and Cormorants to Otters, Coypus, Sea Elephants and Whales.

Whale Watching Tours around Isla Carlos III (Carlos III Island)

     Season:  December thru April.  In the Strait of Magellan, 6 hours navigation from Punta Arenas, is located Parque Marino Francisco Coloane, a 67,000 Hs. protected area where can be observed Humpback Whales (Megaptera Novaeangliae), on a smaller scale the Minke Whale, Dolphins, Sea Lions, Penguins and other birds. Francisco Coloane Marine Park was the first area designated as a protected zone and marine park in the country. The ecosystem is complemented with the closeness of Santa Ines Glacier (which can also be visited depending on the program) and the natural environment with thick forests that reach the coastline. You can check for availability in the local tourist agencies of Punta Arenas,  which is the home port.

Fuerte Bulnes  (Fort Bulnes) 

Fuerte Bulnes (Fort Bulnes), Punta Arenas, Chile.
      62 Km. South of Punta Arenas, reconstruction of the first Chilean settlement on the Strait of Magellan in 1843, with a network of trails, lookouts and picnic areas. The tour includes a visit to several facilities such as the Chapel, the Jail, Cannon's Yard, stables, houses, dining rooms, etc. In 1848, the population moved from Punta Santa Ana, where the Fort was situated to a more favourable location giving rise to the current city of Punta Arenas. Near Fuerte Bulnes are located the ruins of Puerto del Hambre (Port Famine), Spanish colony that had a sad end. Puerto del Hambre is so called because of the tragic death of all its inhabitants, who first attempted to colonize the Strait of Magellan in 1584, founded the city Rey Don Felipe and later died from starvation in such an inhospitable place.

La Cruz de los Mares  (Cross of the Seas)

     On the shores of Cabo Froward (Cape Froward), Strait of Magellan, 48 naut/miles South of Punta Arenas. Situated at a height of 340 mts. on a cape that marks the end of mainland Chile and South America. The original cross was built in 1913, and then it was rebuilt several times due to unfavorable weather conditions. The current structure was erected to commemorate the visit of Pope John Paul II to the region in 1987. I must stress that Cabo Froward is the southernmost point of mainland Chile and South America.  The English explorer and privateer Thomas Cavendish, in 1587, was who first named the Cape, because of the extremely hostile climate with high winds and heavy rains. Local tourist agencies offer Zodiac or Kayak trips to Cape Froward then carrying out the walk towards the Cross of the Seas.

Faro San Isidro  (San Isidro Lighthouse)

     Inaugurated in 1904, it is located 75 Km. South of Punta Arenas, at the southern end of the Brunswick Peninsula, Region of Magallanes and  Chilean Antarctic Territory. San Isidro was part of a chain of eight historic lighthouses on the shores of the Strait of Magellan.  Currently, Faro San Isidro has been rebuilt and restored in order to become a lodging and tourist site.The surrounding landscape comprises dense native forests, the Strait of Magellan and tremendous panoramic views of Tierra del Fuego including the Darwin Mountains. Among the activities to be carried out are Kayaking, visiting interesting places such as Cape Froward, the Southernmost point of mainland Chile and South America, hikes to Aguila Bay and Mount Tarn, once climbed by Charles Darwin. 

"Maggiorino Borgatello" Salesian Museum  

     Located at 336 Bulnes Ave., next to Maria Auxiliadora "Don Bosco" Church, Punta Arenas downtown. Founded in 1893, today bears the name of its founder, one of the great missionaries among the Indians of Tierra del Fuego Island. "Maggiorino Borgatello" is one of the most comprehensive Museums in Chile with all the  History, Ethnography, Biology, Fauna of the Patagonian territory. It has four exhibition levels covering the aboriginal life and their evangelization through the Salesian missions, flora and fauna, the beginning of commerce and industry, livestock, exploitation of oil, etc. The museum also has a valuable library with more than 4,000 books of the past and audiovisual material about regional history, ethnic groups that populated Patagonia as well as from the more recent past. This Salesian Museum is one of the most visited places by national and foreign tourists in Punta Arenas.

Punta Arenas Main Square  

     Named "Muñoz Gamero"  in honour of a former Governor, one of the points of concentration of the many city tours that take place in the Patagonian capital during the summer,  surrounded by  buildings of attractive architecture, reflecting a time of economic splendor based mainly on livestock and exploitation of oilOne of them is the Union Club building, next to the Jose Nogueira Hotel.  In the center of the square is the monument to the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, discoverer of Chile by the South in 1520. The tradition  says that the one who kisses the big toe of the Patagonian Indian at the foot of the monument, will return to this land some day.

Museo Historico Regional  (Regional Museum) 

     Located at 949 Magallanes Street, Punta Arenas downtown. Old mansion of pioneer family Braun- Menendez, in 1974 the residence was declared a National Historic MonumentThe exhibit spans since the early geographical discoveries to the mid-twentieth century, including a complete collection of objects relating to the origins of Punta Arenas, collections of furniture and objects belonging to the golden age of the city and region through permanent exhibitions, since 2007 there are also temporary displays.

Punta Arenas Municipal Cemetery   

     Beautiful graveyard named "Sara Braun", one of the most visited places by tourists in Punta Arenas. In spite of a graveyard is not always the most attractive site for sightseeing, according to a survey by CNN in Spanish, this cemetery ranked sixth among the ten most beautiful in the world.  Through the alleys with finely trimmed trees, its tombs and mausoleums evoke thousands of souls of common people, pioneers, victims of ancient shipwrecks or volunteers that went to give their lives during the World Wars from these distant lands. A "must stop" is the revered "Estatua del Indio Desconocido" (Statue of the Unknown Indian), surrounded by plaques of appreciation for favours received.

Monument to the Shepherd

Monument to The Shepherd in Punta Arenas, Chile
Monument to the Shepherd, Punta Arenas
       Located at Avenida de Bulnes, Punta Arenas, the "Monumento al Ovejero" is based on a real herdsman of the early twentieth century and inaugurated in 1944. The original version was made of granite, the current monument built in bronze dates from 1962, to pay tribute to people who for many decades have been devoted to what was the most important economic activity in the region, sheep livestock.

Museo del Recuerdo (Old Times Museum)

     This outdoor museum displays a series of machinery, carriages, tools, typical buildings of the pioneer period, a maritime section, a replica of an oil rig of the beginnings of the last century, a California Drilling Rig, circa 1900, the first to operate in the region. The Museo del Recuerdo is part of many of the city tours around Punta Arenas.  Location: Km. 3.5 of Bulnes Ave., in front of Punta Arenas' Duty Free Zone. 

Mercado Municipal de Punta Arenas  (Punta Arenas' Municipal Market)  

     In Avenida Costanera (Waterfront Ave.) in front of Arturo Prat pier. On the first floor are the stalls selling seafood as well as handicrafts.  On the second floor there are several "cocinerías" (kitchens with small restaurants), all very clean and tidy, where you can taste many delicacies like the exquisite "centolla" (King Crab), different kinds of fish and shellfish. There are also souvenir shops. On the top floor there is a larger and comfortable restaurant, the "Vistamar", with an excellent view of the Waterfront and bay.  Punta Arenas' Municipal Market is a place not to be missed when visiting this city, although the prices are not cheap, a dish of King Crab can cost $ 9000 (about US$ 12.5). Adjacent to the Market there is a large handicrafts center.

Pinguineras Isla Magdalena  (Magdalena Island Penguin Colony) 

Penguin colony at Isla Magadalena, near Punta Arenas
Isla Magdalena Penguin Burrows - photo:
     Sanctuary of Nature, the "Monumento Natural Los Pinguinos" is made up by Marta and Magdalena Islands. 25 nautical miles of Punta Arenas, also natural refuge for other species such as Sea Lions, Cormorants, Antarctic Gulls, and other mammals and aquatic birds. Throughout the season (October 15 to April 15) there are permanent boat trips departing from Punta Arenas and outskirts to admire the population of more than 120,000 specimens.

Pinguineras Seno Otway  (Otway Inlet Penguin Colony)

     This is a land tour, location 70 Km. N. of Punta Arenas, area known as Pecket. Every year from October to March thousands of specimens of the species Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus Magellanicus) congregate here to mate and reproduce. After a 2 Km. hike you reach the observation point to see from very close these likeable aquatic birds.

Nao Victoria Museum 

     7.5  Km. N. of Punta Arenas.  It is an interactive museum with replicas of ships, weapons and objects from old times which have had historical importance for the life of the region. There is a full scale reproduction of the "Nao Victoria", ship used by the Portuguese navigator Fernando de Magalhaes (Ferdinand Magellan), discoverer of these lands and the first to circumnavigate the Earth between 1519 and 1522, under the reign of King Carlos I of SpainThere is also the reproduction of the "James Caird", and adapted lifeboat which had an outstanding participation in the rescue of the British Antarctic Expedition of Sir Ernest Shackleton, whose ship the "Endurance" sank in the Antarctic Ocean in 1916.  Another replica is the "Goleta Ancud" (Schooner Ancud), first warship built in Chile that setting sail from Chiloe Island, took possession of the Strait of Magellan  on behalf of the Chilean Government in 1843.  Very soon will also be available the replica of the famous brig "HMS Beagle" belonging to the British Royal Navy, in whose second voyage (1831-1836) the renowned English naturalist Charles Darwin took part in the scientific expedition performing his famous studies and theories. One of the countries that Darwin studied thoroughly  was Chile and especially, Patagonia.

Parque Nacional Pali Aike  (Pali Aike National Park)

     Also known as "El Escorial del Diablo" (The Devil's Slag Pile). Located 200 Km. NE of Punta Arenas, near Punta Dungenes, the easternmost point of Chile. Its main attraction is the "Cueva de Pali Aike" (Cave of Pali Aike), declared a National Historic Monument, where evidences of human life of 11,000 years ago have been found.   The park is accessible from the International Route No. 255, going 28 kms from Punta Delgada village. With respect to fauna of this desolate corner of the pampas, you can see Guanacos, Gray Foxes, Skunks or even the Patagonian Puma. Among birds, the Carancho, Cernicalo (Kestrel) and Queltehue.  Of the few species of flora due to the dryness of the land, can be observed the Calafate (typical small fruit of the region) Murtilla, Mata Negra, Mata Gris, Romerillo. Because of the presence of numerous low rise craters, natural caves, lava fields and arid terrain at times the Park gives the appearance of being in a lunar landscapeTours are available from the city of Punta Arenas, which usually include  " Estancia San Gregorio" (San Gregorio Cattle Ranch), founded in 1876, today a place almost forgotten but which pioneered sheep breeding in Patagonia.

Punta Arenas' Winter Carnival

Winter Carnival, Punta Arenas, Chile.
Winter Carnival in Punta Arenas - Photo:
       Without a doubt, the biggest mass gathering event that the city can offer, traditional since 1996. The arrival of Winter is celebrated every June 21th when the "Year's Longest Night" is commemorated and concludes at the end of July when the Winter Carnival attracts about 50,000 enthusiastic participants and spectators who don't heed the harshness of the season. 

Serrano and Balmaceda Glaciers

      3 hours sea voyage leaving from Puerto Natales. Beautiful seascapes, marine and bird fauna during the travel until  reaching the north extreme of Ultima Esperanza Fjord. From the East side of Monte Balmaceda of 2,035 mts., hangs Glaciar Balmaceda and by the North, Glaciar Serrano. From the nearby  inns are also scheduled excursions on foot, horseback, kayak or inflatable boats to different places like Glaciers Felicia, Tyndall, Geyke, Chacabuco, Lago Azul and the wonderful navigation through Serrano River.

Parque Nacional Alberto de Agostini (Alberto de Agostini National Park)

     Name in commemoration of the Salesian priest, ethnographer, explorer and photographer of early the XXth century. With a surface area of 1,460,000 Hs. Alberto de Agostini is Chile's third largest National Park. An almost  uninhabited zone, in Isla   Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire Island), 80 nautical miles South of Punta Arenas reaching the Beagle Channel, where thick forests grow up at the foot of snowed mountains and the glaciers fall into remote inlets. With this setting as a backdrop, highlights the Darwin Mountain Range, studied in depth by Charles Darwin in the XIXth century, too little explored until now.  Currently, there is road infrastructure that is being built by the "Cuerpo Militar del Trabajo" of the Chilean Army, but can also be carried out 4 X 4 excursions, horse ridings, kayak trips or a spectacular sea voyage leaving from the port of Punta Arenas. Among the innumerable sights stand out the imposing glaciers Marinelli, the largest in Alberto de Agostini National Park, De Agostini, Glaciar Pia, Garibaldi, Gunter Plushow, Romanche, Brookes and others. Wildlife includes Condors, Otters, Coypus, Albatrosses, Cormorants, Sea ​​Lions, Dolphins, the Guanaco, a typical animal of this part of the World, etc.  

cruises to antarctica
Photo: Antarctica xxi, Antarctic Operator-

Flights and cruises to Antarctica 

Companies based in Punta Arenas offer travels that are scheduled well in advance for an unforgettable trip to the Continent of the Future:
* Adventure Network International (Antarctica Flights & Expeditions)
* Antarctica XXI (Antarctica Cruise & Tourism)
*DAP Antartica (Tourist Programs for Antarctica & Patagonia).


What to see in Northern Patagonia, Chile


Commune of Futaleufu    

Futaleufu River, rafting
Rafting in Futaleufu River - Photo:
     Commune of Futaleufu, bordering Argentina. Located 1,300 km. South of Santiago, it is a charming tourist destination, of fertile land and snowy peaks belonging to the Southern Andes. All South Chile has something special but this commune has attractions that captivate tourists. It is crossed by the wonderful Rio Futaleufu, born in Los Alerces National Park, Argentina, until its turbulent waters empty into Lago Yelcho, Chile. Futaleufu is one of the most important rivers in the world for practicing Rafting and Kayaking. Furthermore, the entire area is very suitable for the practice of recreational fishing, we could say it's like a Fly Fishing Paradise, a variety of programs are organized in the Rio Futaleufu, Rio Espolon (one of its tributaries), Lago Lonconao, Lago Espolon and others. This is only an introduction to this commune of ordinary people with incredible natural landscapes, where you can also enjoy a tasty cuisine and where visitors are welcomed with open arms.

Parque Nacional Laguna San Rafael  (Laguna San Rafael National Park)   


     With 1,742,000 hectares of extension, Parque Nacional San Rafael was declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978.  There are sea voyages to Glaciar San Rafael, wonderful place of more than 15 Km. long, 2 Km. front and ice walls over 70 meters high, located 82 Km. S. of Puerto Chacabuco, Region of Aysen. The navigation route to reach San Rafael runs parallel to the Northern Ice Fields Something that always impresses visitors are the sudden roars produced by the constant avalanches of large masses of ice into the sea, this ice dates back more than 300,000 years old. Within the Park boundaries is also located the highest mountain of the Chilean Patagonia, Monte San Valentin, with 4058 mts. elevation, at the extreme North of the Northern Ice Fields, this mountain is also called on some maps  Monte San Clemente. In spite of the remote location of Monte San Valentin, there are specialized companies that carry out expeditions, since the area is of exceptional beauty. In general, the climb is not of a great technical difficulty but in some stretches requires a good level of knowledge. Besides the climatic conditions may be adverse for several days.

Carretera Austral (Southern Road)


Carretera Austral, Southern Road in Northern Patagonia

       Route 7, better known as Carretera Austral, runs from Puerto Montt in the Region de Los Lagos (Region of Lakes) to Villa O'Higgins in the Region of AysenCurrently, it has a lenght of just over 1,200 Kms., being a road that is in constant expansion since in the future it is projected to reach Puerto Williams, capital of the Antarctic Province in the far south of the country. Due to the difficult geography of the territory, some stretches must be made via ferry. The road passes through idyllic landscapes, so this mostly gravel road has become a true pole of attraction for national and international travelers either with motor vehicles or bicycles.  To tour the Carretera Austral is necessary to go prepared with rations, proper clothing and equipment to deal with adverse weather conditions that may arise. 

     Thanks to this road, -one of the most ambitious connectivity projects undertaken by the Chilean Government due to the wild geography of the territory-, access to many attractions of Northern Patagonia has become much more expeditious. Thus, you can reach the beautiful cove of Puyuhuapi and its surroundings including the nearby Queulat National Park, not without first visiting the fascinating Pumalin Private Park  in the Province of Palena, with its variety of activities offered to tourists or the commune of Futaleufu, highlighting the Rio Futaleufu, known worldwide for its unique conditions for the practice of rafting and kayaking.  Another major attraction in Chilean Patagonia is Lago General Carrera (General Carrera Lake), shared with Argentina where it is called Lago Buenos Aires. Here, in the largest lake of Chile and the fourth largest in South America, you can visit the amazing mineral  formations of calcium carbonate known as Marble Cathedrals. The route also crosses Reserva Nacional Cerro Castillo, a National Reserve with many natural attractions, where is located Cerro Castillo, one of the most beautiful and characteristic mountainous chains of Patagonia. Arriving at the southern part of the Aysen Region you will find Rio Baker (Baker River), Chile's mightiest water course, highly sought destination for sport fishermen, also famous among those who practice extreme Rafting, there is a large range of tours, fishing lodges and related services that are offered.

Chile's Route 7 or "Carretera Austral", one of the most beautiful scenic roads in the World



Parque Nacional Queulat (Queulat National Park) 

Queulat National Park in Aysen, Chilean Patagonia
Queulat National Park - Photo:
        The scenery is sublime, with waterfalls and a hanging glacier, deep cliffs, thick forests, lakes and rivers.  165 Km. N. of Coyhaique, Region of Aysen. Due to  its very rugged geography, this park is one of the least intervened areas of the country, this fact makes it a region of great tourist potentialThe hanging glacier, was discovered in 1875 by Captain Enrique Simpson. According to his description, the glacier reached 100 meters from the sea but it is currently at a distance of 7,800 meters from the coastline.

Parque Pumalin 

     Chile's largest Private Natural Reserve, with more than 325,000 hectares and a length of 85 Kms.,  world- renowned because of the incomparable beauty of its landscapes. One of the last places on Earth almost untouched by human hand, declared a Nature Sanctuary by the Government of Chile in 2005.  Open all year round, areas for camping with facilities for tourists. Palena Province, Xth. "Region de Los Lagos" (Region of Lakes). There is a wide range of activities that can be performed especially those related to adventure tourism, a variety of trails for different levels of experience that lead to amazing places even through thick forests and volcanoes, a large number of granite walls and peaks for climbers, sea kayaking and observation of wildlife in their natural habitat such as dolphins, sea lions and whales, bikers are also welcome to ride the Park through the bike trails.  

La Catedral de Marmol  (The Marble Cathedral)

The Marble Cathedral, Region of Aysen, Patagonia, Chile.
     Navigation through Lake General Carrera, visiting this strange but extraordinary series of caves, carved in marble by nature itself. Next to the Marble Cathedral, there are also other rock formations known as the Marble Chapel and Marble Cave. When the water level is low you can go inside the caverns. The most visited Nature Sanctuary in the Region of Aysen.

Termas de Puyuhuapi  (Puyuhuapi Thermal Baths and Ecolodge)

Puyuhuapi Thermal Baths and Ecolodge, Region of Aysen
Puyuhuapi Thermal Baths and Ecolodge
     Access by sea, amidst lush greenery, on the shores of Bahia Dorita, about 30 minutes navigation from the village of Puyuhuapi, commune of Cisnes, Region of Aysen. Both in winter as in summer a spectacular setting, nature at its best. The cozy hotel  has pools with thermal waters at different temperatures, there is also a wide variety of activities that can be performed with specialized guides: excursions to explore this part of Patagonia such as the charming Queulat National Park, crossing the fjord by boat to the pier on the Carretera Austral, then travel a stretch of 15 minutes by car to the area of the hanging Glacier; you can also sail with kayak or motorboat through the quiet channels and islands contemplating the rich marine and bird life; of course you may also enjoy recreational fishing in the generous southern rivers and lakes, or take one of the many tours offered by agencies operating in the region.  Due to the number of natural attractions in the whole area, the remote town of Puyuhuapi and surroundings have also many other hotels, campsites and lodgings, some of them run by their own owners in private houses. 

Rafting in Patagonia   

Rafting in Aysen, Chilean Patagonia.
     In the numerous rapids of the Aysen Region, especially of Rio Baker, which rises at the southern end of Bertrand Lake, southwest of Lake General Carrera; Rio Simpson, also favorite spot for fly fishing and other water sports activities; Rio Figueroa, 30 km from La Junta, en route to Lago Verde; rivers Blanco and Aysen which make up another of the ideal routes for rafting and the worlwide famous Futaleufu River in Northern Patagonia. 

Recreational Fishing Programs 

     Various fishing excursions are available in the local tourist agencies. In the Patagonian regions of Aysen and Magallanes can be found world-class rivers and lakes for the practice of Sport Fishing. In Aysen:  Rio Baker, Rio Simpson, Rio Aysen, Lago Los Palos, Lago Riesco, Lago Elizalde, Lago Azul, Rio Azul.  In Magallanes Region: Laguna Parrillar, Rio San Juan, Rio Grande (Isla Riesco), Rio Grande (Isla Tierra del Fuego), Lago Deseado (Isla Tierra del Fuego), Rio Condor (Isla Tierra del Fuego), Lago Blanco (Isla Tierra del Fuego), Rio Azopardo (Isla Tierra del Fuego), Rio Tranquilo (Puerto Natales), Rio Hollenberg (Puerto Natales), Rio Serrano (Torres del Paine), Lago Toro (Torres del Paine), Rio Vizcachas (Torres del Paine).  Fishing License is required, granted by the governmental entity "Sernapesca".