Sightseeing in Santiago, Chile

Chilean Patagonia, Best Tourist Places

Gallery of Glaciers, Chile.
Australis Cruises
Cape Horn & Patagonia - Punta Arenas, Chile
Patagonia is a remote region shared between the two countries of the South American cone, which, as far as tourism is concerned, for decades it had been associated only to the Republic of Argentina, due to the solid promotion of its natural beauty and the importance given to the region by its authorities. On the other hand, in recent years the Chilean government and private companies have actively promoted the natural attractions of this part of the country, so far away from the rest of the world.

Patagonia Chile is the southernmost region of South America, made up of the southern part of the Region de Los Lagos (Lakes Region), Aysen and Magallanes, excluding the Chilean Antarctic territory. Due to the aggressive geography of this part of the world, land connectivity through these regions is only through Argentine territory, however, regular airline and ferry services are always available. 

The sea voyage between Puerto Montt and Puerto Natales (or vice versa) is a highly recommended option to get to know the impressive natural beauty of Patagonia through its channels and fjords, sailing close to thick forests as well as glaciers and ice fields, still alive protagonists of the last Ice Age. In this regard, it should be noted that Chile has the largest number of glaciers in all of South America, approximately 80%.

 
Another recommendable way to get to know the Aysen Region, part of Patagonia, is through the Carretera Austral, considered one of the most beautiful roads in the world, more than 1,200 km long, mostly gravel, and with beautiful views, from Puerto Montt to the town of Villa O'Higgins, gateway to the Southern Ice Fields. The landscapes are magnificent and in many cases, in places never touched by humans, since the population density is very low (barely 1 inhabitant per square kilometer).

Climate in Chilean Patagonia 

Paine Mountains, Magallanes Region
  It should be noted that Chilean Patagonia is traditionally considered to extend between 41° and 56° South latitude, which is why a temperate to cold climate predominates, with important differences in temperatures, which decrease significantly from north to south. There are also microclimates with higher temperatures during the summer in specific regions, especially in the northern part of Patagonia.

In the northern part of southern Chile rainfall is abundant during most of the year, temperatures in Summer can easily exceed 20°C, while in Winter they often fall below zero.

The extreme South of Chile is drier and colder. Rainfall is much scarcer and maximum temperatures in Summer can reach around 15° and occasionally 20° or a little more. At this time of the year, Torres del Paine National Park has a microclimate with milder temperatures, although the weather is changeable anyway.

In Southern Patagonia, the harshness from one Winter to another can vary quite a bit, but the temperature on a normal day can range from about 0 °C to 5 °C. with lows that can reach -10°C or even a little lower. Because of its geographical location, between December 15 and January 15 in sub-Antarctic Patagonia daylight can last until approximately 23:00 hrs. and a new sunrise begins around 03:00 hrs., looking in the distance to the South, you can see that it never gets completely dark.

Tourist places in Southern Patagonia

Torres del Paine National Park

Photo by Alex Wolowiecki on Unsplash 
  The main protected area and one of the country's major tourist attractions is located 312 km north of Punta Arenas, the regional capital, and 150 km from Puerto Natales. Local tourist agencies offer numerous excursions to visit this beautiful place, which was chosen as 
"The Eighth Wonder of the World" in an online election with more than five million votes worldwide. The National Park, created in 1959 and declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1978, currently covers an area of 242,242 Hs.

A chain of granite-walled mountains and snow-capped peaks, lakes of turquoise waters and rivers coming from the neighboring Southern Ice Fields undoubtedly make up one of the most beautiful sights in this part of the world. Its attractions and rugged geography make it one of the most sought after by  ecology and adventure sports lovers.

Other interesting activities in Torres del Paine are to do the trekking circuits known as the "W" and the "O", so called because of the shape of their route. Also very popular are the horseback rides to see memorable landscapes, fly fishing tours and navigation in inflatable boats or kayaks on the Serrano River with wonderful views of the Balmaceda, Serrano and Tyndall glaciers.


Tierra del Fuego Island  (Land of Fire)

  
King Penguins colony
Nuestro Diario de Aventuras
  Tierra del Fuego, Chile's largest island, located at the southernmost tip of South America, is one of the most emerging tourist destinations in the country. Its territory is shared with Argentina, which occupies the eastern part of the island with an area of 18,507 km² whose capital is the tourist city of Ushuaia. Chile occupies the western and southern portions of Tierra del Fuego, covering an area of 29,485 km², its capital is the city of Porvenir.

Tourism in Tierra del Fuego is one of the drivers of its economy, based mainly on its remote, pristine location, sport fishing, navigation through the millenary glaciers, adventure tourism, Winter sports, learning about the past of its native inhabitants and stories of pioneers. Explore one of the most extreme landscapes in Chile, go to Tourism in Tierra del Fuego.  

Whale watching tours around Carlos III Island

Season: December to April. In the Strait of Magellan, 6 hours by boat from Punta Arenas, is the Francisco Coloane Marine Park, a 67,000 Hs. protected area where you can see Humpback whales (Megaptera Novaeangliae), on a smaller scale the Minke whale, dolphins, sea lions, penguins and other birds. 

Francisco Coloane Marine Park was the first area designated as a protected zone and marine park in Chile. The ecosystem is complemented by the proximity of the Santa Ines Glacier (which can also be visited according to the program) and the natural environment with thick forests that reach the coast. Tour availability can be checked with local tourist agencies in Punta Arenas, which is the base port.

Parque del Estrecho and Fuerte Bulnes

62 km south of Punta Arenas. Fuerte Bulnes is the reconstruction of the first Chilean settlement in the Strait of Magellan in 1843, it has a network of trails, viewpoints and picnic areas. The tours include visits to various facilities such as the chapel, the jail, cannon's yard, stables, houses, dining rooms, etc. In 1848, the Fort's population moved from Punta Santa Ana, where it was originally situated to a more favourable site, giving rise to the current city of Punta Arenas.

Near Fuerte Bulnes are the ruins of Puerto del Hambre, a Spanish colony that had a sad end. Puerto del Hambre is so called because of the tragic death of all its inhabitants, who first tried to colonize the Strait of Magellan in 1584, founded the city Rey Don Felipe and then died of starvation in such a remote place.

Since 2008, the 250 hectares of Punta Santa Ana, including Puerto del Hambre and Fort Bulnes, have been under concession and included in the Parque del Estrecho de Magallanes. For detailed information, visiting hours, tickets, go to the Official Site.

La Cruz de los Mares (Cross of the Seas)

On the shores of Cape Froward, Strait of Magellan, 48 nautical miles south of Punta Arenas. The cross rises 340 meters above sea level on a cape that marks the end and southernmost point of continental Chile and South America. The original structure was built in 1913, and then rebuilt several times due to the permanently unfavorable weather conditions of the site. The current cross was erected to commemorate Pope John Paul II's visit to the region in 1987.

 

The English explorer and privateer Thomas Cavendish, in 1587, gave the Cape its first name, due to the extremely hostile climate with fierce winds and torrential rains. Local tourist agencies offer zodiac or kayak excursions to Cape Froward and then hike to the Cruz de Los Mares.

Faro San Isidro (San Isidro Lighthouse) 

Inaugurated in 1904, 75 km south of Punta Arenas, at the southernmost tip of the Brunswick Peninsula, Magallanes Region and Chilean Antarctic Territory. San Isidro symbolizes the years of great maritime traffic through the Strait of Magellan, especially before the opening of the Panama Canal. At present, Faro San Isidro has been rebuilt and restored to become a place for lodging and tourism. 

The surrounding landscape comprises thick native forests, the Strait of Magellan and great panoramic views of Tierra del Fuego, including the Darwin Mountain Range. Activities include kayaking, visiting interesting places such as Cape Froward, the southernmost point of continental Chile and South America, hiking to Bahia El Aguila and Monte Tarn (Mount Tarn), once climbed by Charles Darwin.   

(To be continued.....)

 

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