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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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