View Full Version : Punta Arenas

mathieu Bauwens
2-Jun-2014, 09:12

I've the great opportunity to go for work on a scientific boat on the south pole. I'll have some free time in Punta Arenas. Any tips, great but cheap hotels, photographic site, nice trek and so on ?


2-Jun-2014, 10:47
Hi Mathieu,

Punta Arenas was the terminal point for a trip to Chile that I took 10 or so years back. I flew into Santiago and traveled to Puerto Montt where I took a NaviMag ferry to Puerto Natales where I spent a week backpacking in Torres Del Paine National Park. While in Puerto Natales I stayed in a hospije (spelling). These are private family homes and family members will come to the dock to get you to stay with them. Very inexpensive, about $4US a day IIRC which included breakfast and supper.

A Chilean film crew filming the national parks moved in the night before I left for Torres Del Paine and upon my return they were packing up to leave to Punta Arenas the next morning and I they offered me a ride to Punta Arenas about 100 miles south. The ancient Mercedes we were traveling in, loaded to the roof, had a blow-out (no spare) along the way and the director dispatched his cameraman back to Puerto Natales with the rim to get a new tire. Very lonely road with almost zero traffic. We were lucky the bus came along and the cameraman returned in the afternoon with the tire.

Quite a scene developed trying to change the tire. We had the film crew, police, and a trucker who drove up all under the car. The cameraman saw it and backed out from under and got the video cam and started filming the operation. I got my P67II out and shot him shooting the scene. Very hilarious! When we finally got the tire on the police invited us to their station for tea – with zero crime its very lonely back at the station. So we went there and filmed an interview with the police at the station. Later that afternoon we stopped at a restaurant along the way. The restaurant's proprietor had found an injured young Condor and nursed it back to health and kept it as an “attraction.” The video cam came out and an impromptu interview was filmed and I shot a roll of 135 without getting a clear shot of the Condor's face even though he was standing at my feet.

We finally pulled into a national park SW of the city that was expecting the film crew and had a house reserved for them. I spent the night there and they made arrangements for me to stay at another hospije with friends in Punta Arenas. I spent a couple of days walking around with my cameras – shooting street scenes, churches, Penguins – with the 67 and 135. One night I even got to meet and photograph the President of Chile, Ricardo Lagos Escobar, as he was exiting the Great Western Hotel with his wife and Military Chief of Staff. Very pleasant man who warmly and personally greated all that gathered to see him including me.

There's a lot to see in the area. I tried to photograph a light house to the SW but the weather wouldn't cooperate. The wind there is both unpredictable and ferocious and it will not only blow your tripod and camera over but you too: I hired a boat to drop me off and hiked into Torre Del Paine on a good day. Walking along a ferocious gust came out of nowhere and blew me down. After that I was constantly on guard for it. The wind direction can be completely arbitrary coming from theis azmuth one minute and an entirely direction the next.

Great place, enjoy your visit!


mathieu Bauwens
3-Jun-2014, 02:22
Thanks Thomas. I wait for the confirmation of that trip.

3-Jun-2014, 08:27
Bon Voyage Mathieu!

I love in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and here we are very proud of our beautiful mountains. That said, Torres del Paine is the most stunning landscape I have ever seen. I've been three times and never lack the will to return. If you can get yourself a couple days there, do it. There are lovely lodgings within the park, particularly Hosteria Lago Pehoe, which is on a a small islands in the middle of a turquoise glacial moraine lake.

The village of Puerto Natales nearby is also a lovely place to photograph. It feels very edge-of-the-world.

And if you would rather take the ferry across the Strait of Magellan, the small town of Porvenir on the main island of Tierra del Fuego is also interesting.

And yet another option is to fly from Punta Arenas to the Falkland Islands. When I went -- 14 years ago almost -- you were stuck there for a week because there was only one weekly flight from Chile and none from Argentina (logically). The Falklands are fascinating.

Enjoy your trip!