Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

10 Things to Do: Puerto Williams

Reading Time: 2 minutesWay off the beaten path on Chile’s Navarino Island, Puerto Williams sits on the Beagle Channel in the Straits of Magellan. Surrounded by one of the world’s most pristine ecosystems, the naval town offers intrepid explorers the chance to see remote and untouched landscapes.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Michel Setboun/Getty

Reading Time: 2 minutes

1.  Sail to Antarctica. Puerto Williams is becoming a popular departure port for Antarctica. Several agencies in town will help you get there. Options range from cruises to small yacht tours. Trips last from 10 days to 3 weeks.

2.  View the Mini Forests. Just outside town, El Parque Omora is known as the miniature forest of Cape Horn. It houses 5 percent of the world’s moss, lichen and liverwort species. The best way to admire the microflora is through what locals refer to as “tourism with a hand lens.” 

3.  Explore Museo Antropológico Martín Gusinde. Renovated in 2008, the museum houses artifacts from the local Yagán and Selknam peoples. Named after the anthropologist who spent 50 years studying these cultures, the museum is one of the few ways to learn about the area’s original inhabitants.

4.  Hike Dientes de Navarino. The jagged tooth-like appearance of the Dientes de Navarino mountains makes for spectacular trekking through unspoiled sub-Antarctic landscapes. The circuit goes through remote wilderness and is only recommended for experienced hikers. Hire a guide in town.

5.  Head South to Puerto Toro. Alledgedly the southernmost permanent settlement in the world, the small fishing village of Puerto Toro on the eastern shore of Navarino Island is home to a handful of permanent inhabitants. Get there on the monthly supply ferry and be sure to check out the spectacular views of the Straits of Magellan on the viewing deck.

6.  Race through the Fjords. Puerto Williams hosts the Glorias Navales Regatta in May. Over 300 sailors from around the world race through the fjords of the Straits of Magellan.

7.  Warm up at the Yacht Club. The Yacht Club Micalvi, an ex-navy supply ship docked at a local pier, is the place to meet for an evening drink in Puerto Williams. With a bar that opens after dinner, you’ll find locals and adventure-seekers alike sitting by the fire enjoying a nightcap.

8.  Taste the local specialty. Slow-cooked beaver meat is an important feature of local cuisine. Introduced to the region by furriers in the 1940s, beavers have since multiplied to the point that their pelts are worthless and they’re an environmental hazard. The meat is gamey and not for all tastes—but where better to try it?

9.  Celebrate winter. For six days at the end of July, the Fiesta de la Nieve (Snow Festival) is the town’s way of celebrating winter. Activities include winter sports, rodeos, concerts, and cultural events, culminating with the crowning of the local winter queen.

10. Discover Cape Horn. One of the world’s most pristine ecosystems, Cape Horn National Park is accessible only by sea. The striking, austere park is home to many species of protected animals and plants. Tours run in the summer months from Puerto Williams.

Tags: Chile, Panorama, Puerto Williams
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