With its beautiful and varied landscapes, diverse fauna and access to the Antarctic, this large region of Chile is a nature lover’s dream.
Magallanes y Antarctica Chilena offers interesting wildlife, beautiful views and a long history as an extremely difficult part of the world to settle. Find out why that is in the regional capital, Punta Arenas, before embarking on polar adventures in the Chilean Antarctica.
Go to Punta Arenas’ Regional Museum of Magallanes (Museo Regional Magallanes) to learn about the history of the region, from the initial settlements that failed due to the area’s isolation right up to the founding of the capital. The 13-hectare (32-acre) Zona Austral Shopping Mall is a shopper’s paradise, sitting in the town’s tax-exempt Free Trade Zone. Before leaving town, visit the Magellan Monument on Plaza de Armas Muñoz Gamero and rub the Aónikenk Indian’s foot. Legend has it this will ensure your safe return from your travels.
Head for the Strait of Magellan, which has a “land’s end” feel. Cape Froward is the southernmost point of the mainland of the Americas, reachable by a long trek down the Brunswick Peninsula. Sail to the Francisco Coloane Marine Park to spot whales; they appear in these waters from December to late April. Mid-October to mid-May is the season for watching penguins on Magdalena Island.
Cruise the Chilean Antarctica by boat or fly to the settlement of Villa Las Estrellas. Despite the remote location and having only 150 residents at peak periods of the year, Chile’s Antarctic outpost has most of the conveniences you would expect of a small town and offers a taste of the everyday life here. Visit Bellingshausen, the Russian base nearby, to find out more about glaciology and scientific exploration in the region.
For more outdoor adventure, visit the Torres del Paine National Park with its waterfalls, picture-perfect mountains, enchanting forests and lakes. Use a car to explore the park in comfort as you drive on roads that wind through the stunning landscape. Or, go for the adventurous option and wander along the many phenomenal hiking trails. In addition to its natural beauty, the park boasts guanacos, foxes and even pumas, all part of the region’s rich and diverse fauna.
To reach Magallanes y Antarctica, fly to Presidente Carlos Ibáñez International Airport in Punta Arenas from other Chilean cities. Magallanes y Antarctica is situated in the very south of Chile and includes Chile’s Antarctic territory.