Punta Arenas and its surroundings

Attention: open in a new window. PrintE-mail

Punta Arenas is with 140,000 inhabitants the biggest city in southern Patagonia and the capital of the XII region Magallanes y Antartica of Chile. The busy industrial town is located on the Strait of Magellan and it is the most important port in this area. It is also a famous cruise and tourist destination.

Its environment is beautiful with forests, mountains, lakes and the Pacific Ocean. Few kilometers West of Punta Arenas is the National Park Reserva Nacional Magallanes with a lot of nature including hiking capabilities and viewpoints. But there are also a small skiing area, many radio transmitters and a military station on its highest point Monte Fewton.

South of Punta Arenas at the very end of continental South America is a remote area on the Strait of Magellan with superb trekking possibilities like Monte Tarn (825 meters), or the lighthouse Faro Cabo San Isidro. 

Punta Arenas and the Strait of Magellan

 

 

 

Fishing port of Punta Arenas

 

City hall with same remains of the last demos

 

One of the wrecks on the shore South of Punta Arenas

 

Our daughter Eva stayed in Punta Arenas the whole year 1999 as a exchange student. She visited the Colegio Miguel de Cervantes, and this was a must for us to see. When we came to the school and looked around the reception Lady asked us about our purpose. After telling her that our daughter had been a schoolgirl here, she took the phone immediately and called the Director of this school. The Director gave us a warm welcome, we chatted a lot with her and she and her assistant showed us the impressing facilities of the school - Thank you very much. Unfortunately she did not know Eva, because she had moved to this school just few years ago.

Colegio Miguel de Cervantes

 

Schoolgirls, Director, Alfred and Marion

 

Few kilometers West of Punta Arenas are some hiking possibilities in the Magallanes National Reserve. 643 meters high Monte Fewton provides nice views to the city but its top is occupied by military and you can not access its top.

Part of Punta Arenas seen from Monte Fewton

 

This day was very windy and relatively cold. We were happy to rest in the upper attendant's hut of the funicular of the skiing resort. There was an interesting poster inside.

The native people are burning the western world

 

Sunday, November 27th was ugly due to pouring rain. We became totally wet when we walked along the river to search for the Geocache Bocatamo Rio de las Minas. But finally we found it!

The weather on the next day was reasonable; so we headed south and walked to Monte San Felipe, a small hill of 408 meters west of Puerto Hambre but with an outstanding panorama.

Strait of Magellan from Monte San Felipe

 

We had the dream to climb up Monte Tarn, which is the dominant mountain south of Punta Arenas. This mountain is famous for its bad weather and storms. The first ascent had been done by the British John Tarn in 1827 and also Charles Darwin had visited the summit. We found a nice spot directly on the beach south of Puerto San Juan. The ocean is full of life, we saw many dolphins and different kinds of birds.

American Oystercatcher


It was very cloudy in the morning of the next day; so we decided to hike along the coast to the lighthouse Faro Cabo San Isidro. But you never know in Patagonia, we took also our mountain equipment with us. After 1 hour we found the path to Monte Tarn which is well marked with red points or tapes. The weather seemed to be stable; consequently we changed our plan and headed to Monte Tarn first through a dense forest followed by a moor. Our shoes became more and more clammy, because there was a lot of water in the moor. The last part to the top was a snow gully and an easy scree ridge.

Faro Cabo San Isidro from the ascent to Monta Tarn

 

Snowy Monte Tarn

 

Northern summit of Monte Tarn with the Strait of Magellan

 

The wind on the top was heavy but we could stay more than half hour thanks to our maintain equipment. The views were marvelous and overwhelming.

Southern view from the top of Monte Tarn

 

Many mountains in the West

 

Heading down was fast because we could "ski" down a lot in the snow but our shoes and feet were totally wet when we arrived at our home.

Isla Dawson and Strait of Magellan

 

On the way back to Punta Arenas are two interesting sites: The fort Fuerte Bulnes and the harbor Puerto Hambre. The fort was built by Chile in the year 1843 to observe and monitor the Strait of Magellan. The latter one was the first settlement founded by the Spaniards in 1584. But most of them starved pitiably and it was named Puerto Hambre - the port of hunger.

Fuerte Bulnes

 

Gate of Fuerte Bulnes with Monte Tarn

 

Puerto Hambre

 

In the late afternoon of November 30th 2011 we picked up Marion's brother Tommy at the airport. He had some luggage.

Busy airport of Punta Arenas with Tommy in the center

 

On the next day we showed him the city and headed back to the nice beach south of Punta Arenas. Tommy was a little bit astonished about the warm and sunny weather.

Dancing in Punta Arenas

 

Sea Lion on the beach South of Punta Arenas

 

Southern Lapwing in the forest

 

Fishing boats of Puerto San Juan 

We started our hike to the lighthouse Faro Cabo San Isidro again on a cloudy day.

The beach in front of the lighthouse

 

But the weather became better and better. Thus we had the vague hope to see Monte Sarmiento which is an ice cathedral with more then 2200 meters high. It is exactly the point where the Andes turn from North-South to West-East direction. West and South is the Southern Pacific Ocean with its roaring storms and violents precipitations, which smash furiously and permanently against Monte Sarmiento. According to one of our guide books seeing Monte Sarmiento is winning the first price in the lottery.

Top prize in the lottery - Monte Sarmiento seen from Faro Cabo San Isidro

 

We continued on the path to the Cabo Froward until we came to the Bahia del Indio. The views to Monte Sarmiento were unforgettable outstanding and stunning. But we saw also other things like the old remains of an antique whaling station.

Brown Jellyfish

 

Majestic Monte Sarmiento seen from Bahia del Indio

 

For more pictures, please click here              For a map of our itineraries, click here

Previous article                                              Next article

Comments 

 
#2 RE: Punta Arenas and its surroundingsCaitlin Henning 2016-11-19 16:54
Greetings! I am wondering if you can recommend one of your day hikes to me for my time in Punta Arenas this January. I enjoyed your photo from Monte San Felipe, but can't find much information on it. Are there trails to follow and are they easy to find? What about Mt. Tarn? Thank you!

Answer from Marion and Alfred: Dear Caitlin, the trail to the summit of Monte Tarn was hard to find because of snow and mud. We recommend a GPS device (Garmin or mobile phone) and to download a GPX track file from wikiloc, e.g. http://www.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=4006753. Unfortunately we found nothing for Monte San Felipe in wikiloc but it is easy to find if the visibility is good. Again there is no trail, we just followed the meadows
Quote
 
 
#1 RE: Punta Arenas and its surroundingsRosmary 2012-01-31 15:34
Hy,jetzt war ich mit Euch auf Reisen, ich bin schon ganz aufgeregt, denn viel schöne Natur erwartet mich, meine gestreste Seele wird sich gut erholen können.
Wünsche Euch alles Gute weiterhin
Rosmary
Quote