Punta Arenas, Chile

February 4 - 5, 2012

Punta Arenas is located in the Patagonian region of Chile, and is the largest city in the area.  The population is about 110,000.  Our approach was from the Strait of Magellan.  The weather here is changeable without notice, so it was not a surprise to find the weather chilly, even though it was our equivalent of early August in the northern hemisphere here.  We also had to deal with periodic rain through our excursion.  The tour we chose was called ‘Highlights of Punta Arenas’.  All the tour times had been changed, and we did not read the instructions carefully enough so we missed the beginning of our tour.  Fortunately for us, the man in charge of the buses put us into his car and drove us to the museum that was the first stop on the tour, and we were able to catch up with our group.  This museum was the Palacio Braun Menendez, formerly a family home, and now a museum reflecting Patagonian history.  

For our stop at the Plaza de Armas, with its statue of Magellan, the weather was excellent.  We had time to wander around the park, which had a craft market, and buy souvenirs if we chose.  From there we went to the the first cemetery started in the area, the Cemeterio Municipal Sara Braun.  It is filled with huge mausoleums, flowers, and carefully pruned trees and shubs.

While we were at the cemetery the rain started again, and did not really let up again until we were back at the dock.  Our next stop was the Museo Regional Salesiano, a museum kept by the Salesian Friars.  The museum contains natural history exhibits in addition to the cultural exhibits.   The natural history collection allowed us to confirm that we had indeed seen a red fox in Ushuaia the day prior.  The natural history collection isn’t in very good shape, but it is good enough to show the fauna of the area.  The museum as a whole is very nice and an excellent way to learn about Patagonian cultures.  Unfortunately we were not allowed to take any photos inside the museum.

Our final stop was a photo op at an overlook, where we could take a photo of our ship anchored out in the harbor.  Unfortunately that was spoiled by the rain.  However, once we returned to the dock the sun came out again.  On a nearby remnant of a pier we saw a huge number of cormorants (photo below).  Our tender took longer than usual to get back to the ship because there was a group of dolphins accompanying us and the sailor who was piloting the tender gave us a chance to enjoy their antics.

We ended up staying overnight in Punta Arenas, even though it was scheduled to be a one day visit, because of a large Pacific storm.

To avoid the storm the captain changed our course which meant we would not sail through the beautiful Chilean Fjords.  We did not do anything on the second day in port because of a combination of weather and time.  There are more pictures in the photo album.

We did receive our revised itinerary, which eliminated New Caledonia and sailing by Pitcairn Island.  Apparently Easter Island had been on the chopping block, but it was spared.  So off we sailed into a bumpy, stormy ocean.


© Susan L. Stone 2015                   rovingstones@me.com