Punta Arenas, Chile

Punta Arenas lies atop rolling hills, looking out over the Strait of Magellan. In the days before the Panama Canal, this was a major port as ships plied the waters of Cape Horn. Punta Arenas remains a prosperous town today, thanks to its rich natural resources. The city is also the gateway to Chilean Patagonia, a maze of fjords, rivers, steppes, and mountains to the north. To the south lies the great frozen mass of Antarctica. Adventure awaits in any direction at this port located near the end of the earth.

Across the Strait of Magellan lies Tierra del Fuego, the lonely, windswept island discovered by Magellan in 1520. The region was settled by Yugoslavian and English sheep ranchers in the 19th century.

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Points of Interest

  • Sara Braun Museum (Regional Museum) & Plaza Munoz Gamero
  • Museo Salesiano Maggiorino Borgatello
  • City Cemetery
  • Patagonia Institute (Instituto de La Patagonia)
  • Fuerte Bulnes
  • Patagonia Estancia
  • Magellanic Penguins at Magdalena Island or Otway
  • Torres del Paine National Park
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More about Punta Arenas, Chile Points of Interest

  • Sara Braun Museum (Regional Museum) & Plaza Munoz Gamero

    Visit the former palace of Sara Braun, one of the most powerful women in 19th-century Patagonia, then head to the city's main square, Plaza Muñoz Gamero, with its monument honoring Ferdinand Magellan.

  • Museo Salesiano Maggiorino Borgatello

    The museum, maintained by Salesian friars, boasts a truly mesmerizing display of native flora and fauna, and cultural artifacts from regional Indian tribes, including the extinct Fuegian Indians.

  • City Cemetery

    Dotted with sculpted European cypress trees, this resting place is much like a city, with avenues that connect the magnificent tombs of the region's founding families and immigrant colonies.

  • Patagonia Institute (Instituto de La Patagonia)

    The institute presents an engaging exhibit of colonial artifacts called the Museum of Memories. Highlights of this open-air museum include antique machinery, pioneer houses and antique cars.

  • Fuerte Bulnes

    A replication of this hilltop fort originally built in 1843 offers sweeping views of the Strait of Magellan and a glimpse into challenging pioneer days.

  • Patagonia Estancia

    This century's old cattle ranch is a living museum of the history and traditions of Chile's baqueanos, the sheep ranchers who settled Patagonia.

  • Magellanic Penguins at Magdalena Island or Otway

    The reserves on Magdalena Island and Otway offer an up-close look at a colony of these entertaining birds.

  • Torres del Paine National Park

    Take in the surreal beauty of the twisted mountains, glacier and lake in Chile's Torres del Paine National Park.

10 EXCURSIONS

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City Drive & Museum (Guided in Spanish)

3 hours | Punta Arenas | PUQ-202
  • City Cemetery
  • Patagonia Institute (Instituto de La Patagonia)

Embark on half-day, narrated drive that focuses on Punta Arena's history. Keep your camera ready for a brief stop at La Cruz Hill, the tallest point of the city that promises breathtaking views of Punta Arenas and the Strait of Magellan. You'll also make a photo stop at Plaza Muñoz Gamero, Punta Arenas' central plaza and home to the Hernando de Magallanes Monument. Your tour continues to Salesian Museum Marggiorino Borgatello, which is a testimony to the life of the indigenous inhabitants and the ecosystem in the far south. Among its many exhibits are weapons used by the extinct Fuegian Indians, and a full-size replica of the Cave of Hands (Cueva de las Manos). Its rock paintings are typical of the nomadic art found throughout Patagonia; the hand images were created either by wetting the rock with blood and pressing a hand on it, or by blowing ground rock around a hand, creating a silhouette. You'll visit the Patagonia Institute for a flashback into pioneering days. On your drive back to the pier, you'll make a stop at the City Cemetery and walk along the avenues lined with cypress trees and magnificent mausoleums.

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Moderate Activity, Shopping Opportunities

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$79.95

City Drive & Museum (Guided in German)

3 hours | Punta Arenas | PUQ-203
  • City Cemetery
  • Patagonia Institute (Instituto de La Patagonia)

Embark on half-day, narrated drive that focuses on Punta Arena's history. Keep your camera ready for a brief stop at La Cruz Hill, the tallest point of the city that promises breathtaking views of Punta Arenas and the Strait of Magellan. You'll also make a photo stop at Plaza Muñoz Gamero, Punta Arenas' central plaza and home to the Hernando de Magallanes Monument. Your tour continues to the Salesian Museum Marggiorino Borgatello, which is a testimony to the life of the indigenous inhabitants and the ecosystem in the far south. Among its many exhibits are weapons used by the extinct Fuegian Indians, and a full-size replica of the Cave of Hands (Cueva de las Manos). Its rock paintings are typical of the nomadic art found throughout Patagonia; the hand images were created either by wetting the rock with blood and pressing a hand on it, or by blowing ground rock around a hand, creating a silhouette. You'll visit the Patagonia Institute for a flashback into pioneering days. On your drive back to the pier, you'll make a stop at the City Cemetery and walk along the avenues lined with cypress trees and magnificent mausoleums.

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Moderate Activity, Shopping Opportunities

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$79.95

City Drive & Museum

3 hours | Punta Arenas | PUQ-200
  • Museo Salesiano Maggiorino Borgatello
  • City Cemetery
  • Patagonia Institute (Instituto de La Patagonia)

Embark on half-day, narrated drive that focuses on Punta Arena's history. Keep your camera ready for a brief stop at La Cruz Hill, the tallest point of the city that promises breathtaking views of Punta Arenas and the Strait of Magellan. You'll also make a photo stop and shop for souvenirs at Plaza Muñoz Gamero, Punta Arenas' central plaza and home to the Hernando de Magallanes Monument. Your tour continues to the Salesian Museum Marggiorino Borgatello, which is a testimony to the life of the indigenous inhabitants and the ecosystem in the far south. Among its many exhibits are weapons used by the extinct Fuegian Indians, and a full-size replica of the Cave of Hands (Cueva de las Manos). You'll visit the Patagonia Institute for a flashback into pioneering days. On your drive back to the pier, you'll make a stop at the City Cemetery and walk along the avenues lined with cypress trees and magnificent mausoleums.

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Moderate Activity, Shopping Opportunities

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$79.95

Patagonia Trek & Andean Club

3.5 hours | Punta Arenas | PUQ-475

Travel to Club Andino, Punta Arenas' premier ski club for an exhilarating mountainside experience. Your half-day excursion begins with a 30-minute drive to the club. Upon arriving, you'll be whisked up 4,500 feet up the mountain with your guide aboard a secure chair lift. From the top, you'll be awe-struck at the legendary Strait of Magellan and the city of Punta Arenas in the distance. The next leg of your excursion is all down hill, literally. At the descent point, you'll start hiking downhill on the tree-covered slopes dotted with lush forests of Patagonian natives such as coigues, lengas, and ñirres. A snack of cookies and a cup of hot chocolate awaits your return to Club Andino. This excursion is recommended only for passengers in good physical shape.

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Strenuous Activity, Shopping Opportunities, Includes snack

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$99.95

Patagonia Estancia & City Drive

8.5 hours | Punta Arenas | PUQ-105
  • Patagonia Estancia

Experience what life must have been like for Chile's baqueanos, sheep ranchers who settled in Patagonia over a century ago. Your full-day tour begins with a scenic drive to Patagonia Estancia, a 100-year-old cattle ranch. After a tour of the estancia, you'll witness a demonstration of farm machinery once used by the baqueanos, and a sheep-shearing and sheep dog demonstration. You'll enjoy a traditional Chilean lunch before departing for the pier. Keep your camera ready for a brief stop at La Cruz Hill, the tallest point of the city. Here, you'll capture panoramic views of Punta Arenas and the Strait of Magellan. You'll then continue to Plaza Muñoz Gamero, Punta Arenas' central plaza for a photo opportunity.

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Moderate Activity, Shopping Opportunities, Includes meal

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$169.95

Salesian Museum & Fort Bulnes

7.5 hours | Punta Arenas | PUQ-100
  • Museo Salesiano Maggiorino Borgatello
  • City Cemetery
  • Fuerte Bulnes

Take in the sights of Punta Arenas on a full-day, narrated drive. Drive to Plaza Muñoz Gamero, Punta Arenas' central plaza. Shaded by a canopy of pine trees, the plaza is enveloped by baroque-style mansions from the 19th century, and boasts the Hernando de Magallanes statue. Make your way to the Maggiorino Borgatello Museum. Here, you'll witness artifacts used by the extinct Fuegian Indians and a full-size replica of the Cave of Hands. Visit the local cemetery. Then, you'll travel to Fuerte Bulnes (Fort Bulnes), a replica of the wooden, hilltop fort built to protect the first Chilean settlement in 1843. Also en route, you will enjoy a traditional Chilean lunch at a local inn.

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Moderate Activity, Shopping Opportunities, Includes meal

From

$189.95

Magdalena Island Penguin Reserve

5.5 hours | Punta Arenas | PUQ-645
  • Magellanic Penguins at Magdalena Island or Otway

Spend the day with the whimsical Magellanic penguins on Magdalena Island, a rookery declared a natural monument in 1982. Your full-day tour begins with a two-hour scenic cruise northward to Magdalena Island in the Strait of Magellan. Magdalena Island is one of Chile's largest and most important Magellanic penguin breeding sites with over 100,000 pairs. You'll spend nearly an hour observing these whimsical penguins in their natural habitat. Sometimes called the Jackass penguin, the Magellanic is the largest species of warm-water penguins, sporting a white chin strap marking, a pink line at their lower jaw and black bill. You'll spy burrows of breeding pairs sometimes in the middle of a trail or immediately next to the fences that separate you from this whimsical colony. As they're a noisy "bunch," you'll be greeted by squawks and shrieks, some from growing babies just losing their fuzzy coats.

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Strenuous Activity, Shopping Opportunities

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$199.95

Magdalena Island & Penguin Reserve by Speedboat

4.5 hours | Punta Arenas | PUQ-650
  • Magellanic Penguins at Magdalena Island or Otway

Cross the Strait of Magellan to Isla Magdalena and Isla Marta. Together, these islands form the Los Pinguinos National Monument, which protects more than 120,000 penguins as well as a small colony of sea lions. The islands form an interesting ecosystem - Marta Island is home to more than 1,000 sea lions, along with cormorants, skuas, the Austral seagull, Antarctic pigeon and sea elephants. You can't step ashore on Marta due to local regulations, so you will circumnavigate the island to admire and photograph both the colony and the diversity of marine birds that live there. On Magdalena Island, you will go ashore and interact with one of the major colonies of Magellan penguins - more than 150,000 birds - spending an hour walking among colony.

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Strenuous Activity, Shopping Opportunities

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$349.95

Paine National Park

10.5 hours | Punta Arenas | PUQ-155
  • Torres del Paine National Park

A 40-minute charter flight brings you to Paine National Park, where more than 30 miles of roads ribbon past sparkling lakes and ponds, glistening glaciers, and plunging cascades. The park's name comes from a Tehuelche word meaning pink, inspired by the park's multitude of ravines. Your drive within the park includes incredible vistas. Stop at Lake Sarmiento to have a view (weather permitting) of the Paine Massif. Then continue to the Laguna Amarga, known for its intense blue color. Across Nordenskjold Lake, you have a view of the famous jagged spires of Cuernos del Paine. Proceed with your sightseeing drive to the Salto Grande Waterfall, which you'll enjoy from a distance. Refresh with lunch at Hosteria Pehoe, an inn renowned for its spectacular location and great photo opportunities. Head back to Puerto Natales for your flight to Punta Arenas. A 25-minute transfer will return you to the ship in the late evening.

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Strenuous Activity, Shopping Opportunities, Includes meal

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$1199.95

Antarctica Landing Expedition

11 hours | Punta Arenas | PUQ-150

Imagine setting foot on the windiest, coldest and least populated area on the planet. Fly toward the icy southern continent of Antarctica for a full-day excursion to Villa Las Estrellas, a Chilean Antarctic settlement. Your adventure begins as you board your chartered plane for the approximately 2.5-hour flight. Upon arriving, you'll embark on a tour of the research center, one of the continent's oldest and most important meteorological stations. You'll then gear up for a hike to witness the area's wildlife reserves and glaciers. Weather and tide permitting, you'll also trek along the beach to Ardley Island, a marine protected area. Although wildlife sightings are not guaranteed, you may catch sight of colonies of seals and penguins and even a killer (orca) or baleen whale. After four hours, you'll board your plane for a relaxing return flight to Punta Arenas. Meals and energy treats are provided. As weather conditions are harsh, this excursion is not for the faint-hearted.

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Strenuous Activity, Shopping Opportunities, Includes meal

From

$3599.95