THINGS TO DO IN PUNTA ARENAS IN 3 DAYS – OUTDOOR EXPERIENCES

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Punta Arenas is the capital city of Chile’s southernmost region, Magallanes and Antartica Chilean and placed 250km/155miles south from Puerto Natales. Most people take the plane to Punta Arenas, stay one night and then go to Puerto Natales to visit Torres del Paine national park. But if you did go all the way to Patagonia to enjoy the nature and wildlife you should stay some more days in Punta Arenas because this city actually has some very cool things to do and see – you just need to go a little bit outside the city.

This was our first (out of many) honeymoon as married couple – and we spend it exploring Punta Arenas in 3 days  with focus on outdoor sightseeing, wild animals and nature.

 

FUERTE BULNES – FIRST SETTLEMENT THAT FAILED

Day 1: Fuerte Bulnes is a fort located by Strait of Magellan,  62km/38mi south of Punta Arenas. The fort was built to further the president’s colonization policies in Southern Chile and protect the Strait of Magellan. The plan was to establish a town there, but the harsh weather made it impossible to attract people to this place and six years later they founded Punta Arenas in 1848. It was not hard to imagine how the weather condition could be a challenge here – we arrived on a windy day; 40kmh/25mph and that is what the people from Punta Arenas call a “Magellan brise”! The fort is a reconstruction because the military forces abandoned and destroyed the fort. The surrounding nature is beautiful and the visitor´s center is worth the visit as well.

 

Things to do in Punta Arenas, Chile
Fort Bulnes

LAST ROAD ON THE AMERICAN MAINLAND CONTINENT

After visiting the fort we turned to the left (if you turn right its the road back to Punta Arenas) and out of the last road on the American mainland continent! I dont know about you, but I thought that was pretty cool! You will pass Río San Juan and  Río San Pedro. We passed a bridge called “Puente San Pedro” where you can park your car and enjoy some walking at the beach. On the other side of the road you will find a very idyllic forest with a small river running through. Here we found a perfect spot to put up the tent. Its forbidden to make fire in the forest – so even though you will discover a lot of places where people have put up a fire place, its not allowed.

things to do in Punta Arenas
Our camp spot – can it be more idyllic?

TREKKING TO LIGHTHOUSE SAN ISIDRO

Day 2: Early in the morning we took the car to the end of the road, left the car and walked the 4km /2mi to the southernmost lighthouse on the mainland continent; Faro San Isidro. The lighthouse is located along the shore of the Strait of Magellan an area notorious for its very strong wind. You can only access this beautiful place by boat, kayak or walking.

 

Things to do in Punta Arenas, Chile
If you were in doubt – here are the signs you need!

 

The road to Faro San Isidro is not a road. You are basically walking on the beach all the way and you will notice a lot of interesting birds and Patagonian ducks chilling at the shore. When you have a wildlife photographer with you this is pretty exciting 😉 It took us more or less 1.5 hours to get to the lighthouse. Be careful when walking up the stairs – they are not well maintained! Arriving at the final destination you will get rewarded with a beautiful view of the area – and we were lucky to see Humboldt whales!

On the way back we saw bunch of dolphins hunting fisk near the shore. It was such a nice experience! I fell completely in love with this place. If you are in Punta Arenas and have a car I would definitely recommend this hike! Furthermore, if you have more time you can walk all the way to Cabo Froward, 32km /19mi away from the end of the road.

Things to do in Punta Arenas, Chile
Faro San Isidro. Photo by @chilevida

BOAT TRIP TO SEE PENGUINS AT ISLA MAGDALENA

In the afternoon we took the tour to Isla Magdalena to see the Magellan penguins. No kidding, its an island full of penguins! The Magellan Penguin is a South American Penguin breeding in Argentina, Chile and the Falkland Islands. Its a half day activity and you are leaving from the harbour of Punta Arenas with a boat to the island. On the island you have more or less 1 hour to walk around in an enclosed path so you dont walk into their “houses” which are holes in the ground. It was a very cute experience – they are not afraid of humans so they get really close because they want to check you out as well 😉 We bought the tickets at the company Comapa in Puerto Natales, but they have an office in Punta Arenas as well.

Things to do in Punta Arenas, Chile
A penguin mom with her two cups. Photo by @chilevida

KING PENGUINS AT TIERRA DEL FUEGO

Day 3: Last day was a full day bus tour to Tierra del Fuego to see the King penguins, the second largest type of penguins. Again the trip starts with a boat trip to a small village called Porvenir at Tierra del Fuego. Here we visited the museum and some monuments. Then we headed to the main attraction; the king penguins! We had 1 hour to observe them in their natural habitat. On the way back we passed Cerro Sombrero, a small village that was founded in 1958 as a residential and services centre for the national Petroleum Company (ENAP) in Tierra del Fuego. We were back in Punta Arenas at 8pm and drove directly back to our home in Puerto Natales.

Things to do in Punta Arenas, Chile
King penguins having a meeting. Photo by @chilevida

 

If you have any further questions to the activities or other suggestions of what to do in Punta Arenas, feel free to leave a comment 🙂

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Things to do in Punta Arenas, Chile, with focus on outdoor experiences

 

Sources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuerte_Bulnes
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magellanic_penguin
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerro_Sombrero

23 comments

  1. I have never been to South America and most people traveled there woild recommend Argentina but somehow, you’ve made Chile looks more interested. Is it safe for solo female traveler?

    1. Chile is mainly very safe – but it also has its less safe areas like the capital Santiago and some areas in the university city Valparaiso. Like, you need to be careful with your wallet and street robbery in some areas. I think its like that in most big cities around Latin America. Where I live its very safe. I walk around in the night without any concerns. Thanks for your comment 🙂

  2. Hi Nana, I loved reading your blog, I did spend a very short amount of time in Punta Arenas but it was part of a group tour in Patagonia so I didn’t get to do all the fun things you did. I’m a total penguin addict so definitely need to go back and see the Magellanic penguins, I was lucky enough to see the King ones, they were awesome :). Humboldt Whales sound awesome, you were so lucky…. ps it’s whales not wales :). I’ve noticed a few more South America blogs so I’m going to take a read and see what else I missed!

    1. Its summer here, but summer here feels sometimes like winter, sometimes like autumn. Its not very exotic summer-ish 🙁 I believe the high season for the penguins here are around november to marts.

  3. Chile has a special place in my heart and I always wanted to visit Patagonia. Living in the other side of the globe now just make it more difficult, but I know one day I will see all these places.. I would definitely go crazy if I see an entire island with penguins! haha

    1. It IS far away! From Denmark is 12.000km straight line to Patagonia. Its even more far away than south Africa!
      And yes, everybody went crazy about the penguins, they are soon cute 😀

  4. King Penguins!! So happy you observed them in their natural habitat and didn’t have to grab them for photos or anything. Chile is on my list for 2018!!

    1. Its a great project – its always something different when you can observe them in their natural habitat – but of course there´s also a risk that they wont be there the day you visit the place 😛 We were lucky!

  5. Those wooden houses on the shore look so beautiful and authentic. Patagonia is on my to visit list for sure, I love outdoor adventures.
    p.s. hej fra Danmark 🙂

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