Torres del Paine National Park

Puerto Natales, Gateway to Torres del Paine National Park

Airport of Puerto Natales
Teniente Julio Gallardo Airfield
Image: Radio Presidente Ibanez
  Puerto Natales, is a small city of approximately 22,000 inhabitants, capital of Ultima Esperanza Province, North of the Region of Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica. It is located 253 km North of Punta Arenas, the regional capital and 2500 km. South of Santiago de Chile. Its proximity to the world famous Torres del Paine National Park makes the city gateway to the tourist center, but also the surroundings of Puerto Natales offer many other places of interest to visit. 

Until a few decades ago, the town was a place without great prospects for the future and based its economy mainly on the operation of a local meat processing plant and coal mining of the neighboring town of Rio Turbio, Argentina. Nowadays the conditions have changed significantly and the former meat processing plant turned into one of the several international class Hotels within the perimeter of the commune.
Currently, a large part of the local economy is based on artisanal fishing, large scale salmon farming and the tourism industry.

How to get there

Hotel in Puerto Natales, Chile.
Hotel Costaustralis
By land, there are Bus Lines which connect daily with Punta Arenas through Route 9 North, the trip lasts 3 1/4 hours, Buses Fernandez, Bus Sur and Buses Pacheco. Also  by land from Argentine territory through Rio Don Guillermo, Dorotea or Casa Viejas border crossings. 
By Air, Teniente Gallardo Airport receives flights of SKY Airline and LATAM during the high tourist season (November to March).  

The Ferry Terminal receives and dispatches once a week the ship that connects with the city of Puerto Montt in a spectacular crossing through the southern channels, the trip lasts 4 days and 3 nights. 

Likewise, in recent years, the arrival of large Luxury Yachts at the city's maritime terminal is something that no longer surprises its inhabitants. Both the beauty of the Southern Fjords and Channels and the proximity of wonderful National Parks both in Chile and on the Argentine side of Patagonia, constitute great lures for the arrival of new visitors.

Puerto Natales on Google Map

What to visit around Puerto Natales:

Torres del Paine Park

Tourist places near Puerto Natales, Chile.
Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, one of the great Chilean tourist attractions, ranked as the Eighth Wonder of the World, occupies the first place on this list. Declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978, its administrative headquarter is located 145 km North of Natales. Its main attractions lie in the spectacular nature of its relief formed by a mountain chain highlighting the Paine Towers and Horns, Glaciers, Lakes and Rivers whose waters come from the Southern Ice Fields, and an abundant native Fauna and Flora. One of the many lakes that complement the gorgeous setting is Lago Pehoe, recently chosen by the prestigious Italian publication Tgcom24 as one of the ten most beautiful on the Planet.

There are many Tourism Agencies that can be contacted in Natales, Punta Arenas or through the Internet offering different tours to the Natural Sanctuary. The most famous tourist circuits inside the park are: the demanding Guided Excursion to the base of the Towers, one of the most famous trekkigs in the world; the trekking circuits known as "The W", with a length of 80 km, which lasts 4 or 5 days and the circuit called "The O", of approximately 130 km, with a duration of 7 to 9 days; trekking on ice to Gray Glacier, with wonderful view of the lake of the same name; navigation by boat on the Serrano River, with a view of the Paine massif and the Tyndall and Geyke Glaciers until reaching the Serrano Glacier at Bernardo O'Higgins National Park; 
also the particular geography of the park makes it an ideal setting for the practice of various activities such as horseback riding, mountain biking, rafting, sport fishing, mountaineering.


Municipal Historical Museum

Gallery created in 1990 at the initiative of the Carabineros de Chile and with the collaboration of the residents of the area. The same year, it was taken over by the Municipality of Natales, which is in charge of preserving and increasing the museum's collections.
For its implementation, the facilities of a pioneer house of the village were conditioned. There are 5 thematic rooms with an important collection of objects related to the origins of the southern communities Kaweskar and Aonikenk, also documentation and objects of the Eberhard family, of German origin who came to colonize the area in the late 19th century as well as a synthesis of the development of rural and urban life in Natales.  

Address: 285 Bulnes St.
08:00 to 19:00 (Monday to Friday) 
10:00 to 13:00 and 15:00 to 19:00 (Saturdays)

Frigorifico Bories Historical - Industrial Museum

Located 5 km north of Puerto Natales, in the facilities of The Singular Patagonia, a world - class Hotel. Frigorífico Bories was the largest and most important meat processing plant in Patagonia, which had been built in 1913 and was in operation until 1973 when the company was dissolved. The plant was intended to process and export sheep meat and derivatives to Europe. In 1996 it was declared a National Monument.
After years of abandonment, as of 1999 the plant's facilities were restored and an important part of the machinery, of advanced technology for the beginning of the 20th century, was recovered. The luxurious hotel is built over the old, restored facilities and offers guided tours for both guests and external visitors to soak up the rich history of the site. The entrance fee can be waived by consuming on arrival at the cozy bar.

Cueva del Milodon Natural Monument    

Milodon's Cave, Chile.
Image: Ecocamp Patagonia
Adventure Travels with Cascada & Ecocamp Patagonia

The Cueva del Milodon (Milodon's Cave) is a natural cavern located 24 km from Puerto Natales, on the western slope of Cerro Benitez (Benitez Hill). The Natural Monument consists of 3 caves, where remains of a Milodon, prehistoric animal of great dimensions extinct probably by the end of the Pleistocene were found in 1896. Of the three caves, the most important is 30 meters high, 80 meters in front and 200 meters deep, where at the entrance there is a replica of the animal and then there is a path to go inside. This is a much visited place because of its high scientific importance, as well as being at a short distance from the city and in a region of great scenic beauty like Laguna Sofia and surroundings.

La Silla del Diablo (The Devil's Chair)

Another much- visited place near Natales, located at the entrance of the Cueva del Milodon Natural Monument is La Silla del Diablo, a rock formation of whimsical shape similar to a giant chair. According to the legend, the stony structure was seat of the Milodon, which later the popular imagination transformed it into a devil. In fact, the unusual figure of this solid formation is due to the erosion caused by an enormous glacier that covered the area during the Llanquihue glaciation, which took place about 110,000 years ago.

Navigation to Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers

Tours to glaciers in Bernardo O'Higgins National Park
Image: Vientos del Sur - Tours Agency
Punta Arenas   
One of the recommended tours departing from Natales, through Canal Señoret and Ultima Esperanza Fjord. This interesting navigation allows to know the Balmaceda and Serrano glaciers which are part of Bernardo O'Higgins National Park, accessible only by sea. 
Bernardo O'Higgins National Park has a total area of 3,525,901 hectares, which makes it the largest park in Chile. This protected area covers parts of the Aysen and Magellan Regions and glaciers of the Southern Ice Field, the largest ice mass in South America. The tours usually include a stop in some Estancia (Patagonian Cattle Ranch) to enjoy a typical lunch with regional lamb and a whiskey with millenary ice in the glacier area. This tour is generally carried out in 1 day and the season goes from September to March.

Navigation to El Canal de las Montañas (Fjord of the Mountains) 

Voyage through the Patagonian channels enjoying the seascape and the marine fauna up to the Canal de Las Montañas, a 66 Km. long fjord flanked by snow-capped mountains of the Cordillera Sarmiento and Cordillera Riesco, dense forests of trees bent by the persistent wind and what cannot be missed in this region, the majestic glaciers. It is a group of 5 glacial masses from the Cordillera Sarmiento, whose names in order of appearance are Zamudio, Bernal, Hermann, Alsina and Paredes. With the exception of Kayak trips, the duration of the travel is 10 - 12 Hrs. leaving from Puerto Natales and the carrying out of this tour is subjected to weather conditions.

Kaweskar Navigation Route    

The Chilean Skorpios tourist company named this tour in honor of the natives that inhabited the area, the Kaweskar also called Alacalufes. With rustic canoes made of tree trunks and bark and of course, without any kind of instruments for navigation, they were perfect connoisseurs of the intricate channels of Southern Chile. 
The 380 miles navigation route to the Southern Ice Field is of 4 days, visiting the largest number of glaciers and fjords in this region, among which the Amalia, El Brujo, the glaciers of the Calvo Fjord, Bernal and Herman stand out. During the navigation, you can see a variety of Marine Fauna and Flora, which is still kept in a virgin and wild state, there are boat raids, walks along the coast, etc. See Kaweskar Route here.

Pedro Montt Waterfront

Waterfront of Puerto Natales with Mylodon Monument.
The coastal road, which once was another of the desolate places of the town, has been restructured according to the touristic development registered during the last years. The current Waterfront, along with a beautiful panoramic view as a backdrop, snow-capped mountains in the distance and the avian and marine fauna, represents one of the nerve centres of Puerto  Natales.

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