There was Nothing to See in 1996 Punta Arenas, Chile but Penguins

There probably still isn’t anything to see in Punta Arenas, the southernmost city on Earth. Punta Arenas overlooks the Straits of Magellan named after Ferdinand de Magellan (the Portuguese explorer) who led the first successful attempt to sail around the world. Magellan passed through the Straits not far from the present site of Punta Arenas in 1520.

This is one of the world’s historic trade routes. The harbor, although exposed to storms, was considered one of the most important in Chile before the construction of the Panama Canal, used by ships to prepare for the difficult passage around Cape Horn.


historic but desolate Punta Arenas, Chile


 Punta Arenas was also used as a penal colony in the mid-19th century.

Ferdinand de Magellan

After saying goodbye to those in our group who were still speaking to us, the trek was over. We decided to stay one extra day to actually recuperate and see what was there in this historic city. The answer? Not very much with the exception of a trip to see the penguins.

Not only was there little to see but we managed to hit a day when near hurricane force winds set a new record…winds of over 70 mph are the norm….but not that day. Street signs and debris were flying down the streets, trying to walk was a real challenge that required both “ex-Marine” and myself to hang onto lamp posts as we made our way along. Winds tend to be strongest during the summer (December is their summer when we were there). City officials even put up ropes in the downtown area! Just when you think you’ve seen everything….


hurricane force winds in Punta Arenas, Chile

We “flew” down the streets, around the square with Magellan’s statue, by the waterfront, and through a little park. (I would have loved a tail wind like that in my old running days.)

A good night’s sleep in a warm bed (what luxury) and tomorrow we were going to visit the penguins….

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