What do you think of when you think of Chile? And no we aren’t talking about the eating kind of chili either… Most people think of wine or getting your summer skiing or snowboarding in (since it is opposite seasons). After having been there; I think of the wilderness, the immense glaciers, cruising through the southern archipelago, wild penguins and quaint small towns. The southern part of Chile is absolutely gorgeous and an adventurous traveler should make sure this is on their bucket list.
Here are some of my favorite highlights:
- Punta Arenas – Located on the Brunswick Peninsula north of the Strait of Magellan, Punta Arenas was originally established by the Chilean government in 1848 as a tiny penal colony to assert sovereignty over the Strait. During the remainder of the 1800s, Punta Arenas grew in size and importance due to the increasing maritime traffic and trade traveling to the west coasts of South and North America. This period of growth also resulted from the waves of immigrants attracted to the gold rush and sheep farming boom in the 1880s and early 1900s. The largest sheep company, controlling 10,000 square kilometres in Chile and Argentina, was based in Punta Arenas, and its owners lived there.
- Cementerio Municipal (Punta Arenas) – The cemetery has been ranked by CNN as one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world. It was designated a National Monument of Chile in 2012.
- Torres del Paine National Park – Torres del Paine National Park is a national park encompassing mountains, glaciers, lakes, and rivers in southern Chilean Patagonia. The Cordillera del Paine is the centerpiece of the park. It lies in a transition area between the Magellanic subpolar forests and the Patagonian Steppes. The park is located 170 miles north of Puerto Natales and 194 miles north of Punta Arenas. The park borders Bernardo O’Higgins National Park to the west and the Los Glaciares National Park to the north in Argentine territory. Paine means “blue” in the native Tehuelche language.
- W-Trail (Torres del Paine) – The most highly trekked route in Torres del Paine National Park is called the ‘W’. This trail system can be done in a variety of ways, from more rugged camping style treks, to full room and board in refugios (well stocked trail huts) along the trail, where beds, food, and showers await you at the end of each day. Named after its trail system that navigates up and down out of the mountain valleys.
- Cruising the Archipelago – The Chilean fjords and glaciers are really spectacular natural scenery. You will get to know one of the most beautiful places in the world, which it’s discoverers named Finis Terrae (The End of the World). Explore the southernmost and wildest region of the world. Sail comfortably through the Strait of Magellan and the Beagle Channel, along glaciers, bays and fjords, discovered and explored in the 16th century.
- Cueva del Milodon – The largest cave in the monument is the 200 m long Milodon Cave. It was discovered in 1895 by Hermann Eberhard, German explorer of Patagonia. He found a large, seemingly fresh piece of skin of an unidentified animal. In 1896 the cave was explored by Otto Nordenskjöld and later it was recognized that the skin belonged to Mylodon – an extinct animal which died 10,200 – 13,560 years ago. In the cave and other caves of the monument have been found remnants of other extinct animals and human remnants.
- Puerto Montt – Puerto Montt is a port city and commune in southern Chile, located at the northern end of the Reloncaví Sound in the Llanquihue Province, Los Lagos Region, 1,055 km to the south of the capital, Santiago. The commune spans an area of 646 sq miles and had a population of 175,938 in 2002. It is bounded by the communes of Puerto Varas to the north, Cochamó to the east and southeast, Calbuco to the southwest and Maullín and Los Muermos to the west. Founded as late as 1853 during the German colonization of southern Chile, Puerto Montt soon outgrew older neighboring cities due to its strategic position at the southern end of the Chilean Central Valley being a gateway city into Chiloé Archipelago, Llanquihue and Nahuel Huapi lakes and Western Patagonia.
I really loved my time in Chile, and will definitely being going back again in the future; maybe this time I will do the Circuito trail at Torres del Paine (larger multi-day hike). If you would like to hear more about the adventures that await you in Chile, call us 1.800.510.5642.
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