Venturing further into Chilean Patagonia we found ourselves in Punta Arenas. Magallane’s capital, Punta Arenas is the furthest continental city of South America. You almost have to take a close look at a map to see that everything south of this area is actually detached from the rest of South America. It’s essentially a massive string of islands. This archipelago is known as Tierra Del Fuego. Learn something new everyday, right?! Check out the map below. In the center you will see the Straight of Magellan chopping the tip off South America.
Because Punta Arenas sits on the Straight of Magellan, it is an important port for traffic across the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. While we were not traversing along the straight, we were using Punta Arenas as another convenient base for our Patagonian explorations. Like a lot of the places we have been to on our trip through this region, the city now caters to adventurers and explorers. Lots of travellers make their way into Tierra del Fuego or the Argentinean Patagonia after visiting Punta Arenas. For us it was a jumping point to Puerto Natales. Our ultimate goal of getting to Torres Del Paine National Park.
During our time in Punta Arenas we stayed at the no-frills Patagonia B&B. It was within walking distance of the center of town, allowing us to explore before we set off on our next destination. The hotel itself was under going some construction, but will likely be completed by the time you read this.
If you are looking for things to do here don’t look too hard. There are a handful of activities that can kill a few hours – walk through town, check out a museum, visit a nearby penguin colony or head out of town for some trekking on one of the many circuits in the area.
After meeting our group in the main square we set off for a little exploration of our own. Check out our visit to Punta Arenas – the “door to Patagonia.”
// MAGELLAN STRAIT
After walking through the town square we made our way south to the Straight of Magellan. It rings a bell, eh?! Being there was a moment I thought my past history teachers would have appreciated. Named after Ferdinand Magellan, the first explorer to circumnavigate the globe, the Magellan Strait was the quickest way for explorers to travel between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Until the Panama Canal opened up in 1914, Punta Arenas was one of the most important stops along the passage for trade. Today you’ll find it’s full of cruise ships, fishermen and explorers making their way to Antarctica.
// PUNTA ARENAS CEMETARY
A quick 15-minute walk from the main square and you arrive at the marble gates of the Punta Arenas Cemetery. Perfectly sculpted cypress trees line the paths along this famous cemetery that houses the remains of some of the most important people in Punta Arenas’ history – including Sara Braun who designed it and is also buried there. It was fun to explore this over-the-top mausoleum and tomb lined labyrinth. Rob particularly liked the abundance of fake neon-colored flowers that adorned the resting places of Punta Arena’s early colonizers. Although less commercial than the Recoletta Cemetery in Buenos Aires (Destinations // Buenos Aires), the Punta Arenas cemetery definitely rivals it in terms of uniqueness and beauty.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON OTHER PLACES TO VISIT IN AND AROUND PATAGONIA, BE SURE TO CHECK OUT DESTINATIONS // PATAGONIA.