Punta Arenas and Magallanes Strait

The only thing I was thinking of while standing at the Magellan’s Strait in the town of Punta Arenas was my geography classroom in High School. We used to go, one by one, called out by the teacher, to a big map hanging at the chalkboard. We used to take a wooden stick and point all the places the teacher was asking us to show on the map. I still remember that Magellan’s Strait was quite difficult for us to find. Laying somewhere on the bottom of South America, tiny strait used to embarrass us when we were not able to find it.

Have I ever thought of visiting Magellan’s Strait? No! I dreamt of Brazil and many other places in South America but not of the Magallanes Strait.

How did we get there then? Well, in order to get to the stunning Torres del Paine we had to take the plane to Punta Arenas from Santiago, Chile. Although we had no plans to visit this town, the taxi driver was insisted in seeing something. He told us about a museum with the vessels Ferdinand Magellan crossed the Atlantic Ocean from Spain. These boats are so small compared to the ones we can see nowadays. These are replicas and you can visit them and see the conditions the sailors lived in.

We didn’t feel like visiting anything else but the taxi driver showed us the cemetery of Punta Arenas. It was a big surprise for us to see so many Croatian names there. The cemetery is really nice with its perfectly trimmed cypress trees. It is also considered one of the most beautiful in the world. And indeed it is beautiful.

Afterwards, we just wanted to go to a cosy café and have something warm to eat. But then again the taxi driver took us to some viewpoints overlooking Punta Arenas and Magallanes Strait. The wind that day was blowing hard, dispersing the clouds and ensuring very good visibility. Thanks to the perfect weather condition we were able to see it.

As an interesting fact, we were told that Punta Arenas is the southernmost point in the continent of South America. This is not true I thought since I knew it is the town of Williams. However, if you have a look at the map, you will see that indeed Punta Arenas is still on the continent. The town of Williams in on the island Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) which is separated from the continent through the Magellan’s Strait.

All in all, if you happen to be in Punta Arenas on your way to Torres del Paine or any other destination, you need 2 hours to visit the places I described above which are:

  • Musem Nao Victoria
  • The Municipal cementery
  • The view points

10 thoughts on “Punta Arenas and Magallanes Strait

  1. What beautiful photos! And yes, this particular strait has been in virtually every Geography school book when I was growing up. So cool that you’ve been there!

  2. I loved the way the taxi drive kept insisting that you go see one more spot. It was sweet and every traveler eventually meets that taxi driver…it seems.

    1. Yes! Otherwise I would have never seen the vessels of Magellan and some other places as I was completely furious that we had to fly there instead of another town closer to our final destination 🙂

  3. Beautiful pictures!
    I find so exciting to end up in a place that you heard about in history or geography class when you were a kid 🙂
    There are so many places I want to go to, but if I ever tour South America (and I’d love to see Terra del Fuego, and la Cordillera), I will make sure to make a quick stop to the Magallanes Strait!

  4. I am ashamed to admit that I have not heard of Punta Arenas but so cool to know that it is the southern most point of South America! Your pictures are lovely, I can’t wait to get to South America, I haven’t been anywhere in that continent but have heard so much!

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