Sunday, 11 February 2018
CHILE: Punta Arenas, Don't Trust Weather Forecast, A Hail Storm Can Occur In Summer
Punta Arenas or Sands Point, although real English speakers might know this as Sandy Point is the largest settlement on the Strait of Magellan and the capital of Chile's Magallanes y Antartica Region.
Founded on december 18th 1848, after the failed attempt of stablish a settlement in Fuerte Bulnes or Fort Bulnes, founded by John Williams, due to the lack of natural resources and local weather.
Punta Arenas has been nicknamed the city of the red roofs for the red-painted metal roofs that characterized the city for many years.
Since about 1970, the availability of other colors in protective finishes has resulted in greater variety in the characteristic metal roofs.
The city has all kind of facilities, in particular an abundance of banks, shops, supermarkets, pharmacies, hiking gear shops, a mall and a duty free zone called Zona Franca.
Punta Arenas historically Sandy Point in English is the capital city of Chile's southernmost region, Magallanes and Antartica Chilena.
The city was officially renamed as Magallanes in 1927, but in 1938 it was changed back to Punta Arenas.
It is the largest city south of the 46th parallel south. As of 1977 Punta Arenas has been one of only two free ports in Chile.
Punta Arenas itself is not a free port, but rather outside the city; there is a small zona franca where certain products can be imported into the country under a reduced-tax regime.
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 European immigrants, mainly from Croatia and Russia 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.
Located on the Brunswick Peninsula, Punta Arenas is among the largest cities in the entire Patagonian Region. In 2012, it had a population of 127,454. It is roughly 1,418.4 km (881 miles) from the coast of Antarctica.
The Magallanes region is considered part of Chilean Patagonia. Magallanes is Spanish for Magellan, and was named for Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese explorer sailing for Spain.
While circumnavigating the earth for Spain, he passed close to the present site of Punta Arenas in 1520. Early English navigational documents referred to this site as Sandy Point.
The city proper is located on the northeastern shore of Brunswick Peninsula. Except for the eastern shore, containing the settlements of Guairabo, Rio Amarillo and Punta San Juan, the peninsula is largely uninhabited.
The municipality of Punta Arenas includes all of Brunswick Peninsula, as well as all islands west of the Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego and north of Cockburn and Magdalena channels.
The largest are:
- Santa Ines Island
- Desolacion Island
- Dawson Island
- Aracena Island
- Clarence Island
- Carlos Island
- Wickham Island
Except Dawson Island, which had a population of about 301 in 2002, the islands are largely uninhabited. Clarence Island had a population of five.
Since its founding Chile has used Punta Arenas as a base to defend its sovereignty claims in the southernmost part of South America.
This led, among other things, to the Strait of Magellan being recognized as Chilean territory in the Boundary treaty of 1881 between Chile and Argentina.
The geopolitical importance of Punta Arenas has remained high in the 20th and 21st centuries because of its logistic importance in accessing the Antarctic Peninsula.
Since 2017, the city and its region have their own Time Zone: they use the summer time during the whole year (UTC−3).
Don't trust the weather forecast, you can get a hail storm in plain summer. Usually you can get rain, wind, and sun all within the same day. If it's winter, then snow is always expected to fall.
However watch for your skin, even if its cloudy, since this geographical area is usually under the hole of ozone layer. It is on Brunswick Peninsula, 1418 km from the coast of Antarctica.
Due to its far southern latitude, Punta Arenas has a subpolar oceanic climate bordering on a tundra climate.
The seasonal temperature in Punta Arenas is greatly moderated by its proximity to the ocean, with average lows in July near −1 °C (30 °F) and highs in January of 14 °C (57 °F).
This is not to say that it is known for stable constant temperatures, only small variability with season.
Rainfall is most plentiful in April and May, and the snowy season runs all through the Chilean winter June until September.
As in most of Patagonia, average annual precipitation is quite low only 15 inches (380 mm) because of a rain shadow created by the Andes.
The average temperature does not go below +1 °C (34 °F). Among Chileans the city is also known for its strong winds up to 130 km/hour.
Winds tend to be strongest during the summer; city officials have put up ropes between buildings in the downtown area to assist pedestrians with managing the strong downdrafts created in the area.
Since 1986, Punta Arenas has been the first significantly populated city in the world to be affected directly by the thinning in the ozone layer.
Its residents are considered to be exposed to potentially damaging levels of ultraviolet radiation.
Punta Arenas has a population of over 127,000 inhabitants. According to the 2002 census of the National Statistics Institute, the Punta Arenas commune has 119,496 inhabitants, 60,616 men and 58,880 women.
Of these, 116,005 97.1% lived in urban areas and 3,491 2.9% in rural areas. The population grew by 5.1% 5,830 persons between the 1992 and 2002 censuses. It further rose to 127,454 at the 2012 Census.
The city was populated by many colonists from Spain and Croatia in the mid-nineteenth century and many of their descendants still live there. Other national ethnic groups represented are German, English, Italian, Swiss, and Irish.
Croatian immigration to Punta Arenas was a crucial development in the region of Magallanes and the city in particular. Currently, this influence is still reflected in the names of shops, streets and many buildings.
According to some references, some 50% of the population of Punta Arenas are ethnic Croats.
By 2006 the economy of Punta Arenas and the region had diversified. Chile's principal oil reserves are located here, along with some low-grade coal.
Agricultural production, including sheep and cattle, continues to play a significant role.
Tourism has contributed to the city's economy and steady growth. Tourist destinations include the Cathedral and other notable churches, the city cemetery, and the statute of Magellan.
Some cruise ships to Antarctica depart from Punta Arenas's port, which also serves as a hub for many cruise lines that travel along the channels and fjords of the region.
There is fishing and silviculture.
A scheduled ferry service connects Punta Arenas with the main island of Tierra del Fuego, and a less frequent ferry runs to the Chilean town of Puerto Williams.
Since the Falklands War, when transport ties were severed between the Falkland Islands and Argentina, Punta Arenas has become a major outside link to the archipelago.
Museo Nao Victoria or Nao Victoria Museum exhibits a full-size replica of the first ship ever to circumnavigate the world: Ferdinand Magellan's Nao Victoria.
Since October 2011, the museum has added a full-size replica of the James Caird, used by Ernest Shackleton during his Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition with the Endurance. The museum is located 7.5 km north on Route Y-565 to Rio Seco.
The city has sea, land, and air connections.
Carlos Ibanez del Campo airport is located 20 kilometers from the city centre. Rental car services, duty-free shops and custom office services are available in the building, there is no duty-free shop in the terminal, despite the representations of tourist literature.
Airlines serving the airport include LAN Chile and Sky Airline, as well as charter flights. The civilian airport and the military airport make up the larger complex.
By road, a connection to other regions of Chile requires passing through Argentine territory Chile Route 5, a vital link in the Pan-American Highway passes through the city.
Panamerican highway terminates in Buenos Aires and does not come anywhere close to Punta Arenas.
By sea, several cruises and ferries can take visitors to the city, although the costs are higher because they include stops at tourist sites along the route.
Punta Arenas can be reached by air, land, or sea. The Carlos Ibanez del Campo international airport is on the outskirts of the city with numerous connections to Puerto Montt and Santiago.
Planes are met by taxis and transfer buses making it easy to transfer to downtown Punta Arenas in no more than a 15 minute ride.
Cruise ships visit it often, especially in summer time December to March.
Buses run daily from Puerto Natales as well as Rio Gallegos, Argentina.
There are frequent buses from Ushuaia, Argentina, that will bring you to the city in about 11 hours. The trip has interesting scenery and is far less costly than flying.
The flight from Ushuaia in Argentina to Punta Arenas is overpriced mainly because of its international flight designation.
The city, like all spanish influenced settlements, is built around its main square Plaza de Armas where the imposing monument of Fernando de Magallanes is located looking towards the strait.
At the base of the monument there is a figure of a patagonian aborigin, specifically an Ona or Selk'nam, that according to local legend if you kiss its toe you will return once again to the city.
Another local legend to come back to the city is to eat calafate, a fruit similiar to blueberries.
Many of the city main public buildings such as the town hall or Alcaldia or the Union Club or Club de la Union are found around Plaza de Armas, and were the houses and palaces of the local founders.
In general, Punta Arenas is compact and walkable. Although it can get really windy. Sometimes during the most windy days of the year september - october they set a rope line tied to the city lampposts for people to hang on.
You will only need transportation for lengthier trips outside the city. For these trips, you can ask for a cab taxi or a minivan (minibus). Most trips will not be more expensive than US$50.
Port area. In the eastern part of the city, right next to the city centre. It is not a touristic place per se, but its surrounded by cyber cafe, souvenir stores and travel agencies.
La Cruz Hill Viewpoint or Mirador Cerro de la Cruz gives a panoramic view of the city and the strait, it is specially beautiful at night. Its a 10 minute walk from Plaza de Armas and is one of the most iconic places in the city.
Austral Brewery. The southernmost brewery in the world, where you can enjoy the traditional production process and a beer tasting session.
It's located at 508 Patagona St. Because of its quality and prices being local Austral is the most popular beer this part of the country.
Braun-Menendez Museum, commonly known as Regional Museum of Magallanes. Is located one block north from Plaza de Armas. It is meant to represent the lifestyle of the founders and most wealthy men of the historical period.
The house was donated to the city by Braun-Menendez descendants now all living in Argentina, and the first half of it is preserved the exact same way their owners left it.
The second half holds a permanent archaeological exhibition regarding the region history, from its prehistory, passing through all the discovery expeditions and finally the city founding and first years.
The museum is usually holding itinerant art exhibits in its basement or cultural activities in its central hall, such as book presentations or documentary premieres.
Museo del Recuerdo or Museum of the Memories, hosted by the Instituto de la Patagonia or Patagonian Institute.
A research facility of the Magallanes University, holds an outstanding collection of old steam engines, cars, horsecarts, historic houses furnished in the 17th century style and farm implements.
It is meant to portray the life style and labor of the first chilotes or people from Chiloe Island and european pioneers that venture into the region looking for fortune.
San Isidro Lighthouse.
Carlos III Island. A nice place for whale sight.
The Shepherd's monument is a traditional monument located in Bulnes Av. 11 blocks away from Plaza de Armas. It is one of the many iconic places of the city.
Maggiorino Borgatello Museum, a Salesian Society museum of natural history and pre-Hispanic ethnic groups.
Punta Arenas Cemetery. Dates back to 1840's, with many local aristocratic families and European immigrants, particularly english and croatians.
It is internationally famous for its magnificent mausoleums, european architecture and shaped cypress trees.
Sara Braun, the woman who donated the terrain, asked in her last will to be the last person who ever passed through the main door, and so the door remains sealed until today.
Every person who wishes to visit the cemetery must access through a lateral entrance.
Nao Victoria Museum. Is a brand new museum, aiming to rebuild the most important ships in the discovery and the colonization of the territories along the Strait of Magellan.
It hosts 3 replicas: Nao Victoria or Magellan's ship, James Caird or Shackleton's lifeboat and Schooner Ancud or Goleta Ancud, first boat to send settlers from Chiloe to the Strait of Magellan.
Recently the museum announced the building of the 4th ship, the HMS Beagle. You can visit the construction site and even help out if you wish to Nao Victoria Museum's Webpage
Out of town:
The Seno Otway penguin colony north of Punta Arenas is a place where each spring hundreds of Magellanic Penguins come home to their birth place to breed.
Many travel agencies offer day trips from Punta Arenas that leave you very little time at the colony, so it's best if you have your own car.
There are fees to cross private land to enter the penguin area, and for entering the controlled area itself, and those in combination may come to more than US$10.
The penguins are not at this location all of the time, so you must check before making the visit. The private property owner is now said to close access at the end of March.
During part of the season, most of the penguins may be in the water and not visible, until returning to land late in the afternoon. Check first with reliable local sources, most sources are not very reliable, however.
To get to the colony, take 9 north out of Punta Arenas, head west on Y530 around the 22km. After 20km take a right at the sign for the colony. As of 1/7/15 costs were $1500 CLP per person to cross the private land and $6500 CLP per person to enter the colony.
Isla Magdalena. Holds an even bigger colony of penguins. This island is reachable by ferries and company Austral Trans Broom sells tickets at the port which is 10-15 minutes to city center by car.
Tickets can be reserved the same day and are sold 30-45 minutes before departure. Reservation is not obligatory but most hotels can do a reservation for you.
The total tour takes 5 hours: 2 hours there, 1 hour on the island and 2 hours back. There's No additional fee for to enter the island, just the ferry ticket.
Rey Jorge Island Natural Sea Park a whale observation.
Fuerte Bulnes, a historical reconstruction of the site where Chile took possession of the Magellan Strait.
Torres del Paine National Park, near Puerto Natales.
Puerto del Hambre, an early Spanish colony which failed and under the name of Port Famine became a Royal Navy base.
It was here that Captain Pringle Stokes, the captain of HMS Beagle, shot himself in his cabin due to severe depression and temporary command was given to Lieutenant W.G. Skyring.
Stokes' fatal depression was attributed to the boring nature of the local geography.
Fauna Patagonica or Estancia Lolita, a beautiful place for watching different species of native animals and birds.
Visit Pali Aike National Park.
Ski, Torres del Paine Trekking, visit Porvenir by ferry or Puerto Natales by bus.
Isla Magdalena Pinguinera or penguin rookery. A five hour trip. Two hours each way by boat and one hour on the island.
Humans must stay on the path, but the penguins ignore it and will practically step on your feet as they waddle by. October - April.
Amazing Tours: a company that specializes in eco tourism. They have a wide range of things to do, tailored to both novice tourist and more experienced hikers.
Most of their tours take you to places nobody else goes, and for what they offer they are quite cheap. They will help you with planning and logistics,get you to the airport and back, help with the reservations.
They will also plan with you a custom tour to other places outside of Patagonia such as the chilean side of Tierra del Fuego, Puerto Natales, Torres del Paine, El Calafate and El Chalten.
There’s a small open market or feria for tourist type merchandise downtown. You can find department stores, supermarkets and many shops like Timberland and The North face in Bories Street.
There is a large outlet mall in the outskirts of the city, called Zona Franca, a duty free zone, with hypermarkets, perfume, clothing and outdoor stores.
Recently opened, also in the outskirts of the city, Mall Espacio Urbano Pionero or Pioneer Urban Space Mall offers 3 department stores like Falabella, Ripley and La Polar, food court, shopping stores and Lider hypermarket.
- Open Market. Munoz Gamero Main Square, Downtown.
- Commerce. Bories St, Downtown.
- Zona Franca Outlet Mall. Km 3 1/2 Norte, Bulnes Av.
- Espacio Urbano Pionero Mall. 01110, Eduardo Frei Av.
Dino's Pizza. 557, Bories St. Locally famous pizza and sandwich restaurant. Try the delicious ruibarb juice or a Barros Luco a beef and cheese sandwich. Popular with undiscriminating locals but not considered very good by North American standards.
Alternatives not far away include pizza on corner of Bories and Mejicano, just across from Los Sabores on second floor which is a better place than any of the pizza eateries.
Kiosko Roca. Presidente Julio Roca Blvd. cnr Lautaro Navarro Street. A very small place near the Main Square.
Here you can eat choripanes, a small sandwich filled with chorizo paste and home-made mayonnaise and leche con platano a milk beverage with the addition of bananas. The food is so good that the place is full almost all day.
La Chocolatta 852 Bories St. A grandma-style cafe, very cozy and usually full, serves a big variety of homemade chocolates, ice-creams, tea, and coffee.
La luna or The moon. 1017, O'Higgins St. Special CuIsPartOfe made with fresh regional products. Its specialties are seafood and lamb.
Puerto Viejo Seafood and Grill. 1166, O'Higgins St. Fresh and savory food focusing on fish and seafood, and a variety of grill dishes that includes the famous Magellian lamb.
Hotel Cabo de Hornos or Cape Horn Hotel, Bar/Lounge & Restaurant: 1039, Munoz Gamero Square (Main Square St.). In the bar, try the famous Chilean wine, while you enjoy the warmth of a fireplace.
In the restaurant, you will find the best local products prepared with the greatest delicacy. Or, if you prefer, you can enjoy international cuIsPartOfe of the highest level, prepared with variations each day to create a superb and ample menu designed to satisfy the most demanding palate.
El Remezon Restaurant. 1469, 21 de mayo St. Magellian Ethnic Food in a warm environment.
Note that this is very close to the municipal fish market which features a number of quite good seafood eateries on the second floor quite crowded and popular during lunch. Try the fried merluza.
The city is also known for the number of Cafes that you can find:
Cyrano Cafe. Bulnes St. with Maipu St. Enjoy a faboulous Twinnings teapot or one of its varieties of coffee or chocolate drinks with some local pastries.
In spite of the bad spelling of this review, this place actually has good coffee and wi-fi access. The Cyrano has been gone for a long time now, no doubt killed off by bad spelling in the reviews.
Santo Remedio. 040, Bulnes St. Local Pastries. It becomes a pub in the evening, with good tablas and picoteos.
La Marmita, Plaza Sampaio 678. La Marmita has trendy decor, awesome food, and an all around great atmosphere. An awesome place to relax with friends or family after a day of activity. Great find in a city like PA. Great choice for veggies
Jekus, O'Higgans 1021, Punta Arenas, Chile. A restaurant/pub with good service and creatively decorated inside with beautiful wood carvings. They also have a good selection of wines and beers.
Unfortunately the food is boring with soup from packets not quite disolved yet and basic meat and potatos mains. Ch$15,000 (US$7).
Cafe Montt, Pedro Montt 976, Punta Arenas, Chile. Cafe with free wifi, cakes, coffees and traditional mate. Expressos / coffees from 1000 to 2000 pesos. Nice Tiramisu for 2500 pesos.
1900 Pub, Bulnes St and Colon Av. In the centre of the city, its a small place nearby the Tierra Del Fuego Hotel.
Bull Blood, 0480, Espana Av. Nice environment, with great drinks and food. It has a small dance hall and karaoke all night.
Kamikaze Club and Madero Pub, 655, Bories St. Japanese WWII-themed nightclub may be unusual but makes for an entertaining evening.
Mixture of Western / Latin and Reggaton music, played into the early hours and attended by enthusiastic locals and tourists alike.
On top of it, you can find the Madero Pub, with karaoke and live music. Entry includes free drink but a bit pricey at 6,000 pesos at the weekend.
Notre Dame, Croacia 1007. A nice place to have a drink with friends, this place gets busy every day after about 12pm. Karaoke on the main floor Friday and Saturday nights.
Olijoe Pub, 970, Errazuriz St. A traditional local venue, it has a big bar made of wood from the signature regional tree called lenga.
Santino Bar e Cucina, 657, Colon Av. With a stunning decor, it offers quality Italian food and good drinks. Live Music on Saturdays.
Punta Arenas has all types of lodging, from inexpensive backpackers with shared everything, international chain hotels and unique boutique and design hotels.
Beds fill up around Christmas, New Year's and early January, so book early during the high season .
Hostal Maria Isabel, cnr Errazuriz and Senoret, dorms only doubles in Arauco 1066, central location, kitchen access, free internet, lots of warm water. A friendly, well-heated place.
Hospedaje Costanera, cnr Quillota and Rómulo Correa 1221. english spoken, breakfast included, kitchen access, free internet, lots of warm water, 10 min walk from bus station, laundry service. A very friendly, well-heated place. Single: 14.000, Double: CLP 18.000 (10 jan 2013).
Hostal Patagonico, next to Club Hipico. a familiar place for lodging. It has 5 rooms with private bathrooms. It is very quiet place. Its is placed near to Hypermarket, restaurant, Zona Franca, hospitals, videoclubs.
All buses and taxis are very near. The manager is very friendly with the tourist and he helps and answers questions about Punta Arenas, city. single 20.000 CLP, double 30.000 CLP, twin 30.000 CLP, triple 35.000 CLP, 4-bed 40.000 CLP, additional bed 5.000 CLP, breakfast included.
Hotel Patagonia Pionera, Arauco 786 cnr Arauco and Colon. checkin: 1PM; checkout: 12 midday.
In a quiet and safe residential area of Punta Arenas in a privileged zone as much for its nearness to downtown as for the exclusive panoramic view of the city and also the Strait of Magellian from one of the main hill of town called Cerro de la Cruz.
A Boutique Hotel offering comfort and privacy in an authentic and magnificent European style house, the result of the pioneer era of early 20th century. single-US$100, dbl-US$120, triple-US$130, suite-US$140.
Hostal De La Patagonia, O'Higgins 730. Quiet, clean, comfortable mid-range place. Walking distance of Straits of Magellan and handy to Buses Pacheco terminal. Free internet and abundant hot water.
Hostal Patagonia House, Av. Independencia 416. Quiet, clean, seven minutes from the main square. Free internet, kitchen. Dorm 7000 CLP.
Hospedaje Independencia, Av. Independencia 374. Friendly but very cramped. Kitchen is small and stove is very slow. Free WiFi. Breakfast included in room prices. Camping 3000 CLP, d 6000 CLP.
Hostal Bed and Breakfast, O'Higgins 693. Very clean and well run. Very well decorated with interesting old photos of indigenous Indian tribes. Rooms are very spacious with large windows and plenty of sunlight.
Plush down comforters on the bed, although the beds themselves could use an update. C$30,000 for double with shared bath.
Residencial Charitas, Avenida Espana # 1492 Avenida Espana con Boliviana. A friendly and clean hospedaje ten minutes walk from the centre. Has doubles, singles, triples and quads. Hot showers, breakfast and TVs in the rooms.
You get to experience living with a friendly, and helpful Chilean couple. $15000 w/o bathroom $28000 with bano.
Samarce House, Waldo Seguel 377,3 cuadras de la plaza. Single, doubles and dorms, Wifi, buffet breakfast in a family environment. Samuel and his wife Marcela will take great care of you. It's possible to cook in their kitchen.
Punta Arenas is the launching point for various expeditions to relatively nearby Antarctica.
You can also take a ferry to Porvenir. There is usually one leaving in the mornings and another one leaving Porvenir in the afternoons. Make sure the schedules before going to the port which is located NE of the downtown.