Thirdeyemom

Welcome to Punta Arenas! A Day at the End of the World

Patagonia’s utter remoteness and isolation has added to its appeal because it has helped keep the hordes of tourists out and allow only the true adventurers in.  In fact, getting to Patagonia is half the adventure.  It often requires well over 24 hours of travel.  For us, it took three flights totaling 17 hours in the air just to reach Punta Arenas, one of the southernmost commercial airports in the world and our launching off point for Torres del Paine National Park.   Once in Punta Arenas, it takes a minimum of five hours by bumpy car ride to finally reach the park, and then you are finally there in the middle of nowhere.

Here we are loading our first of two flights from Santiago to Punta Arenas:

Landing in Punta Arenas instantly reminds you of where you are.  Located on the blustery shores of the Strait of Magellan with Antarctica’s ice-mass not far away, it is not unusual to land in extremely windy conditions.

Although I had read about Patagonia’s notorious wind, I truly was not prepared for how windy it really was.  As we made our final descent, I could see the gigantic white caps below and the tiny runway awaiting us.  Although I was clutching the armrest of my seat as hard as I could, I still could not contain the excitement and energy I felt about finally arriving in such a wild and remote place.  Our captain informed us that we had landed in over 60 mph winds and unfortunately we would have to wait a few minutes to get off the plane because it was too windy to attach the gate!

Stepping outside the airport, I finally understood what mucho viento meant.  Too much wind.  Incredible amounts of wind, like I’ve never experienced before, anywhere.  Excitement rushed through my veins as a wind gust nearly knocked me over.  The wind was absolutely unbelievable.  All I could think of was “Welcome to Patagonia!”.

We spent the night in Punta Arenas at a quaint hotel located only two blocks from the main square.  Despite the fine comforts of our hotel room, we both had a restless, fitful night’s sleep.  Our minds were not put at ease.  We had no idea what kind of adventure lay ahead.

Photo of our lovely hotel, Hotel Isla Rey Jorge

We woke up the next morning to the buzz of traffic circulating the busy streets.  It was Monday and the town had come to life.  Most people in Punta Arenas travel by taxi so that explained the crazy stop and go whirl of traffic.

Unanswered questions loomed inside our minds.  How big would our group be?  Where would they be from?  What would the weather be like?  And most important of all, would we have fun?  We couldn’t wait to find out.

There was not much of all, if anything, to see in Punta Arenas.  Yet we made the most of our morning walking around the windswept town.  We visited the main city cemetery which proved extremely interesting.

Here is a picture of the crazy trees and Paul standing outside the entrance on that cold and windy morning:

Having never been to a South American cemetery before, I was amazed at how they bury their dead….above ground!

We also passed by the premier hotel in this tiny, uneventful town:  Hotel Jose Nogueira.

By lunch time we had seen everything and had only a little more time until we would meet up with our driver from Cascada who would take us to the park. We found a little pizzeria and enjoyed a delicious lunch as the only foreigners in sight.  We could hardly wait to meet our guide and hit the long ride out to Torres del Paine.  It was sure to be an adventure of a lifetime!

Stay tuned…coming soon is our arrival at the glorious Torres del Paine National Park! 

9 comments

  1. We saw this area when we did our Cape Horn cruise. We dock in Ushuaia. Argintina and spent the day there at Tierra del Fuego. When we tried to leave that evening the cruise ship could not get off the dock because of the winds. We had to sit for a few hours until the winds let up. Our next stop was Punta Arenas, Chile. We got there a few hours late and even though the winds were mild when we arrived the captian decided to abandoned the stop because he was afraid that once he got us on shore that he wouldn’t be able to get us back to the ship. As a consolation he took us to a glacier the next day and took the cruise ship up into the middle of the ice field for a close up. But the best weather we had was the day we rounded Cape Horn. The sun was out, it was in the 60’s, the seas were calm and there was almost no wind. When you read how bad the weather can be and how high the sea can get, we were really lucky.

    • Wow, that sounds amazing. On my last trip to Patagonia, we went to Argentina and flew out of El Calafate right over Tierra del Fuego and I was blown away by it beauty. I must go there someday was what I said as I admired the gorgeous ice-capped rugged peaks as we gently flew above them. Wow!!!!!

    • If you like nature, the outdoors and hiking then Patagonia is for you! You can also do horseback riding trips there and trout fishing. An amazing place that I’ve been to three times now and am in love with. I would love to go to Vietnam someday. That is on my list. Interesting fact about similarities in buriels!

  2. It really is at the bottom of the world! I traveled around Patagonia by bus down to Ushuaia and that makes you realize how truly vast it is! And beautiful, and desolate. That must have been incredible flying in over it!

  3. Lu

    I travelled by bus down to this part of the world, after flying into Buenos Aires. It is such an amazing part of the world.

  4. Now that would be unbelievable! I am sure you so such much amazing scenery by bus. Someday I would love to do that as Patagonia is by far one of my favorite places.

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