Punta Arenas Travel Guide

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Architecture typical of the early 20th century in Punta Arenas

Architecture typical of the early 20th century in Punta Arenas

Robert Runyard (Pto Bories, Chile)

Punta Arenas is a city located in the extreme south of continental Chile, on the Straits of Magellan. The city gained prominence first as a penal colony and later as a coaling port for ships passing between the Atlantic and Pacific, until the advent of the Panama Canal.  Toward the end of the 19th century the region experienced a small gold rush along with the beginnings of the sheep raising industry, which declined significantly following WWII.  The discovery of petroleum in the Straits and on Tierra del Fuego has improved the economic significance of Punta Arenas.  The city tends to be cold and often windy, but is popular with tourists and Chileans alike.   

While you are in the area, you ought to visit the southernmost point in mainland Chile (other than the Antarctic territory)  It is called Fuerte Bulnes... and you probably need a rental car to drive there...about 20-30 mins south of town.  GO early in the morning, the ocean views are  incredible!   You can also check out the small fort, the small chapel, etc...

Near Punta Arenas, you can also check out the Penguin colonies.  These are pretty cool, and most of them only seen in the wild in the southern hemisphere.  So, check it out while you are there.

And, absolutely NOT to be missed, about 6 hrs by car from Pta Arenas, is Parque Nacional Torres del Paine.  The place is just incredible...it is like the equivalent of Alaska in the southern hemisphere,   glaciers, lakes,  awesome hiking trails, beautiful mountain peaks.... you will need at least a good 2-3 days to enjoy this place.  Halfway to Torres del Paine is the town of Puerto Natales, a good place to rest and visit, and book your bus or tour to the Torres del Paine Park.  If you choose to travel from Puerto Montt on the Navimag ferry,  Puerto Natales is your ferry endpoint, after a 3 day ferry ride those Chile's "inside passage"

Contributors

April 26, 2005 change by giorgio

July 26, 2005 change by worldtraveler19

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