Puerto Natales, Chile

Punta Arenas is the southernmost city in Chile and one of the two most southerly in the world. It sits on the Straits of Magellan, where the breeze blows steadily, where the sky is filled with fast-moving, dramatically lit clouds and the people are as hearty as Alaskans, Canadians, residents of the Scandinavan north and other people who aren´t drawn to palm trees.

En route to Torres del Paine National Park, we detoured one hour to the south for an hour to Fuerte Bulnes, a reproduction of a mid-19th century wood fort that established Chile’s claim to this southerly lnd, literally days ahead of a French naval party with the same goal. Between Punta Arenas and the fort, in and along the water just south of the road, we saw an enormous sea lion perched on a rock that wasn´t much larger than the critter, a pod of a Magellanic dolpin called tonines (which I might be spelling wrong) and numous shore birds. My favorite Patagonian bird, the caiquen, is a long-necked bird that always travels in pairs. North of the road are small farms, where chickens, roosters, sheep (and their lambs) and attle were in evidence.

The main square of the lively port town of Punta Arenas is ringed with opulent mansions dating from the days of the wool trade. Between there and Puerto Natales to the north are long stretches of coastal highway with few trees, rolling scenery, more sheep and even a small lake inhabited by Patagonian flamingoes. We spent the night in Puerto Natales, a trekker/backpacke/cyclist stop, with more hostels than hotels. Soon, it’s off to the national park.

One thought on “Puerto Natales, Chile”

  1. Hi Claire,
    My husband found your blog when looking for info about Puerto Natales. We both like your blog very much (both content and looks). If imitation is the greatest compliment, then we compliment you!
    We have been in Puerto Varas for about a month and next week we will take the Navimag to Puerto Natales. Instead of staying in Puerto Natales, we will spend a week in Punto Arenas.
    If you have time, take a look at our blog: http://travelingloveaffair.blogspot.com
    We’ll be traveling slowly north in Argentina (after our Jan 26 Antartica cruise on the Fram–not the Explorer–a sister ship to the NordNorge rescuing boat). We’ll be in BA in March, probably. Then onward. If you find yourself in South America in 08 we’ll still be here. Write us and hopefully we can rendez vous.
    Again, brava on your blog! With best wishes for your continued success, Audre

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