Punta Arenas

Punta Arenas located in Magallanes Strait in Chile

Punta Arenas located in Magallanes Strait in Chile

Punta Arenas is one of the most southern cities of the world and it is located to approximately 1.864,11 miles from Santiago, Chile. Punta Arenas was founded in 1848 like military Fort to reinforce the Chilean pretensions of sovereignty on the Strait of Magellan. Punta Arenas has around 115,000 inhabitants and is the capital of XII region of Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica.

The Punta Arenas climate is  continental stepic cold, with an annual average temperature of 6,5º C, rain season is around April and May, winter present snowfalls but the average temperatures are over 1ºc.The winds can reach 20 km/h. It is recommended to use solar screen protection throughout the year, for the presence of nocives solar uv rays.

The History of Punta Arenas

Punta Arenas was founded like military fortress in 1849 to reinforce the Chilean pretensions of sovereignty on the Strait of Magellan and that came from the Bulnes Fort, since this it was not suitable for the establishment of a stable population. The consolidation of the town in Punta Arenas was marked between years 1875 and 1885, after several riots that destroyed it. From that then the city it was directed to the development of the cattle ranch, which brought successive waves of immigrants. In 1927 Punta Arenas it was red-baptize like Magallanes, although in 1938, its original name was given back to the city.

In 1945 the petroliferous well existence was discovered, which changed the face of the city, turning it an administrative and residential center of the people of the operation.

Stay in one of the several Punta Arenas hotels while  you visit the city of Punta Arenas. Do not miss  Plaza Muñoz Gamero, the Palace Sara Braun and the palace Braun Menéndez, both declared National Monument. The urban appearance of the city of Punta Arenas, conserves the seal imposed by the colons that industrialized the land, the commerce and the transport whose philosophy maintained that “the solitude and distance are bearable if is lived splendidly and in permanent contact with the rest of the world”. There are magnificent its old houses, the square, the cemetery and the commercial street of Punta Arenas. Also there are outstanding recent works that conserve this tradition, like the mansion of Sara Braun, the Great Cape Horn Hotel, public buildings and offices of local companies, in addition to the parks, museums, the port and the airport.

In urban center of Punta Arenas reach the viewpoint, from where you can observe the center and the port. Near is Plaza Muñoz Gamero, who was declared Typical Zone in 1991, is shaded by beautiful “cocinerías”. To the center there is a splendid bronze sculpture, inaugurated in 1920 with the inscription “Hernando de Magallanes, monument donated by Jose Menéndez and inaugurated in the commemoration of IV Centenary of the Straits discovery”. It represents the navigator on a high pedestal and, in the base, native fueguinos. The tradition says that if you kiss the foot of native Selknam (ona), you will return once again to the city.

The Palace Sara Braun, declared National Monument. It was built between 1894 and 1905 by French architect Numa Mayer, with all the material and concerned luxury of Europe. Here Sara Braun resided, widow of Nogueira, she inaugurated the Operating Society of Tierra Del Fuego. Today, completely restored, lodges the Club of the Union and the excellent Hotel Jose Nogueira, open to visitors : Tuesday to Saturday from 11 to 13 and from 18 to 20 hrs. The entrance is US$2.

You can not miss of Punta Arenas is the Palace Braun Menéndez, also declared National Monument, was projected by Beaulier in 1904. There resided Mauricio Braun, brother of Sara and married with Josefina Menéndez Bahety, daughter of the industrialist Jose Menéndez. This marriage united the two greater fortunes of Magallanes. The palace was donated to the city of Punta Arenas, next to all its luxury of furniture and European tapestry of the time. In its interior it works, from 1983, the Regional Museum of Magallanes, that contains, in addition, excellent material of the contemporary history of the region. It is opened of November to April, Tuesday to Friday between 10:30 to 17 hours; Saturday and Sunday of 14 to10:30 hours. Of May to October, Tuesday to Sunday of 10:30 to 14 hours. The entrance has a value of $1000, for children $800, and Sunday the entrance is free.

Near is the Municipal Theater, constructed between 1897 and 1899 by Numa Mayer in the place that had occupied from 1848 the bunker that gave origin to the city. Originally calling Menéndez Theater, also knew like Theater Colon, because it was inspired by the Buenos Aires institution. It was transferred to the Municipality in 1905.

Also in Punta Arenas it will be able to visit the Ski Center of Mirador Hill, located inside of the limits of the National Reserve Magallanes, occupies the summit and the western side of the Fentón mount, more known like Mirador hill, is the only ski center of the world with Vista to the sea.

In summer it works the cafeteria and telescope chair, which it is possible to accede to the viewpoint, also will be able to arrive by a beautiful footpath of excursion that visits rest of old coal mines and crosses different stages from the magallanian forest or by a circuit of mountain bicycles that are combined with telescope chair. It is located to 2.132,55 feet of altitude, with an extraordinary Vista that reaches to the entrance of the Straits, the Dawson Island and part of the Otway bay.

In winter, the ski season is extends from mid June to the middle of September, for alpine cross-country and skiing. It counts with than 10 tracks, one double telescope chair of 1.312,34 yards and a ferry cable of drag. It offers services of cafeteria, transports to Punta Arenas, school of ski, Rent of equipment and motors snow.

In the North sector of the city of Punta Arenas is the Sanctuary Maria Auxiliadora, which enormous building, initiate in 1902, were the last work undertaken by monsignor Fagnano in the region. Its style imitates to the one of the Sanctuary of Fourvier in France. There are masses Tuesday to Friday to 8, 12 and 19 hours, Saturday to 8, 12 and 18 hours, Sunday to 8, 9:30, 11, 12 and 19 hours, and Monday 8 and 12 hours.

To the flank of the sanctuary is the Regional Museum Salesiano Maggiorino Borgatello, one of most important of Patagonia, world-wide recognized, in special by its ethnographic collection on the ethnic groups who populated these earth aónikenk (tehuelches), yamanas (yaganes), kawéskar (alacalufes), selk’ nam (onas) and haush. Also it is of great importance the collection of fauna and mineralogy, especially of petroleum. It has a collection about the Antarctica and of the mission of the salesianos in the Patagonia. It counts with a library and a great photo-library, which keeps the photography of Alberto de Agostini and a store of souvenirs. The museum was opened on base of material gathered by missionaries and scientists of the Salesiana Order. It can visit all week between Octobers to March, the rest of the year of Tuesday to Sunday Between 10 and 12:30 and 15 to 18 hours. The value of the entrance is of $1,300 for adults and the minors of 13 years pay $200.

Near is the sculptures group the Ovejero that represents a horse figure next to a dog and an amount of ewes, works of the sculptor German Montero, in 1943. Also visit the Cemetery, opened by Governor M. Señoret in 1894, is third which has had the city. The access porch was donated by Sara Braun in 1919. Its avenues circulate around well-taken care of bordered cypresses gardens, between which are the splendid mausoleums of the pioneering families; among them, the one of Jose Menéndez, died in Buenos Aires in 1918, and the one of the Braun family, with the sober grave of Jose Nogueira, deceased in Arequipa. Both were buried in the city that helped to increase. A solemn tablet emphasizes the place where the last rest of selk’nam (onas), extinguished ethnics of Tierra del Fuego. Open to visit every day in summer of 7:30 to 20 hours and in winter every day of 8 to18 hours.

You shouldn’t miss  the Patagonia Institute, a research center of history and the resources of Magallanes. In its gardens it is the Museum of the Memory, with a collection of machinery and vehicles of the time of pioneers, a marine pavilion, an old garage and houses of the time pioneer, between 1880 and 1900, one of them qualified as so and the other one with a it completes sample of old rural life, an old warehouse of provisions, a bakery with the formerly tools used, a collection of machines used in mercantile offices and an old factory of artisan carpentry. It counts with an excellent library and map library, sales of specialized publication in regional matters and a botanical garden.

The Tax free Zone of the city of Punta Arenas, is divided in an area of wholesale stores of 66,72 acres and a commercial center of two levels, with an ample covered and central patio with heating, where there are stores that offer electrical appliance, electronic, photographs and perfumeries of the most varied duty free origins and for tourists; in addition it counts on two good cafeterias opened of Monday to Saturday of 10 to 12:30 and 15 to 20 hours. The cafeterias also open Sundays of 10:30 to 20 hours.

Interesting sites in Punta Arena area:

Bulnes fort

The Bulnes Fort is locates to 37,28 miles of Punta Arenas, by Route 9 South, and was founded in 1843 like first Chilean austral land establishment, on the rocky plateau Santa Ana.

The Bulnes Fort has historical importance since it was the first Patagonian colony of the Strait of Magellan. At the moment there is a reconstruction of the Bulnes Fort that was raised in 1843, under government of Manuel Bulnes Prieto, with all the corresponding dependencies.

In the Bulnes Fort an historical museum called O’Higgins Museum exists where objects and documents kept from the history of Patagonia. The Bulnes Fort was declared National Monument in 1968.

Between attractive near the city of Punta Arenas we found:

Punta Arenas Penguins site:The Otway Bay

The Penguins Otway Bay, is located to 40,39 miles to the north of Punta Arenas, in the Otway Bay, an area of 197,68 acres, that extend throughout 1,24 miles of coast. The Penguins Otway is a place of tourist and scientific attraction by the population of more than 6,000 individuals of penguins of Magellan  species which live there. The Penguins Otway, like nest site, was in serious danger to disappear until, in 1990, the German School of Punta Arenas took it under of protection and conservation, with resources contributed by the World Wide for Fund Nature and those obtained by the collection of entrance. As of 1993, the protection of the area was assumed by the Otway Foundation. The  nesting season  is between September and March, being the best hour to visit them from 9 AM to 10 AM hours and 17 PM to 19 PM hours.

Pecket Mine

The Pecket Mine inaugurated in 1987, is first that operates to open edge the gigantic carboniferous mantles that extend until Riesco island. The coal is embarked by a long wharf in ships that leave to the Straits by the Jeronimo channel.

Riesco Island

The route by the Riesco Island is truly beautiful with good weather, because the island becomes progressively mountainous and wooded, allowing a view to the bay and the surrounding islands. To the front, it emphasizes ample fjords and snow-covered peak of the peninsula Brunswick, where it will find good places to do picnic or to camp.

Puerto Del Hambre

(Port Famine)

Declared National Monument, the Puerto del Hambre is 37,28 miles to the south of Punta Arenas, in the margins of the beautiful Bay Buena, closed by rocky peninsulas covered with trees, where captain Sarmiento de Gamboa founded the city King Don Felipe, in 1584.  Houses and a church for 103 colons were constructed.  In 1587 Thomas Cavendish  found only one survivor, a body hanging in the gift of the square and and in some houses, corpses of inhabitants tended with its clothes. The lack of supplies and the rigors of the zone ended the colons, reason why it was rebaptized as `Port Famine’, or Puerto Del Hambre.

Magdalena Island

Magdalena Island is part of the Los Pinguinos Natural Monument , located 25 nautical miles to the north of Punta Arenas. Magdalena Island is located next to the small barren Marta island . In one of its ends a Light is located and it esteems that the population of Punta Arenas  penguins of Magellan living there reaches 50,000 pairs.

Verde River

The town Verde River is located to 54,06 miles to the northwest of Punta Arenas, to borders of the Skyring Bay. Verde River is a small town dedicated to the cattle ranch and surrounded by impressive natural beauties between which we highlight the Fitz Roy channel . From Verde River it is possible to travel by ferry to Island Riesco.

Villa Tehuelches

Villa Tehuelches is located to 62,14 miles to the north of Punta Arenas, in the commune of Blanca Lagoon. Villa Tehuelches is a small town where basic services exist to satisfy their 400 inhabitants, those who in their majority develop cattle activities.

Glacier of Agostini

The Glacier of Agostini begins in the city of Punta Arenas until the peninsula Brunswick. The Glacier of Agostini passes by the Fresh Bay of Water, Punta Santa Ana, Puerto del Hambre, Fort Bulnes and San Isidro Faro.


Cameron is a town that was based in 1904 by the Operating Society of Tierra del Fuego and founded with the name of the administrator of the company. Its buildings exhibit the typical architecture promoted by English, of cañadón of little height to protect it of the wind.

Valley of the Beavers

The Valley of the Beavers is located to 62,14 mi from Cameron. The Valley of the Beavers has impressive forests, different species from fauna and flora and docks in the river. The beavers were brought from Canada to Ushuaia and they have propagated by the area.

White Lake

The White Lake is one of the most beautiful lakes of Magallanes and from there the summits of the mountain range can be observed, with hundreds of birds and beaches. In the White Lake there are abundant firewood to encamp and is frequented by sport fishermen, since this lake has great abundance of brown trout and rainbow trout.


Cullen is a camping and oil plants inaugurated in 1962. Its function is to recover the propane, butane and natural gasoline. Cullen is located to the north of the island of the same name.

Sombrero Hill

The Sombrero Hill is a small town that was constructed in 1958 like residential and operational center of ENAP in Tierra del Fuego. The Sombrero Hill has more than 150 houses and comfortable facilities.

Punta Arenas Travel and Access:

Punta Arenas is the starting point for several tours and cruises in the area, the  Torres del Paine National Park tour and Australis Cruise both start their journey from Punta Arenas.

Punta Arenas Airport: The Carlos Ibañez del Campo Airport (PUQ) receives flight of Sky Airlines, Lan airlines, Aerolineas del Sur, is 20 kms to the north of Punta Arenas, 30 minutes away from the city downtown, you may find transfers, taxis and car rental services within the airport building.

Punta Arenas by car: The journey can be made through the Carretera austral, passing Argentina territory where custom papers must be made and follow the Route 255 Monte Aymond-Punta Arenas.

We strongly recommend to take  only  4X4 SUV cars for car rental if this is going to be your destination and carry snow chains because of the possible  road and weather conditions.

** Information related to Hours, Rates and Dates might change without any previous notice **

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