After a wonderful day visiting Puerto Montt and surrounds we had another 2 days at sea but the 2nd was really exciting.
The Amalia Glacier with a smaller one on the right
On the 2nd morning we woke early once more as we had been told that we would be sailing in the fjords of Southern Chile and one would end at the Amalia Glacier at 06:00. Unfortunately it was still dark and we still had a distance to go so we decided to go and have breakfast in the meantime. Most others had made the same decision and so the queues were pretty long but we still managed to finish before we arrived at the Glacier at 08:00. It was a magnificent sight and we enjoyed taking plenty of photos.
Clouds over the glacier
Glacier finishes at the water in the fjord
We continued the 2nd day at sea sailing through the fjords and enjoying beautiful scenery.
Mist over the mountains in the fjord
The fjord narrows
A rocky hill in the fjord
When we awoke the next morning we found ourselves anchored outside the port of Punta Arenas, known as the The Antarctic Gate. It is Chile’s southernmost city and is situated on the Magellan Strait which links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Before the Panama Canal was built it was a very busy port, particularly for coal and the replacement of coal for fuel oil, as well as a station to restock the ships. Since 1914, though, the most important exports have been from the sheep and wool farming industries. The port also handles lumber and oil products from the Tierra del Fuego oil fields. Punta Arenas was first established in 1848 and in 1927 it was officially renamed Magallens but reverted to Punta Arenas in 1938. If you go to this link you will find a very good map of Chile and some information. I cannot post the map as it is copyrighted.
View of Punta Arenas from the ship
Welcome to Punta Arenas
We decided not to go on the excursion offered for today but rather to explore the town itself. First, we wanted to do a bit of shopping so we asked one of the local folk where there was a mall and she gave us excellent directions. Up the hill, along the higher road to the traffic light and we will see it. We couldn’t miss it with its name in big white letters on a bright red background “Diciembre MALL CHINA”. Yes, it was a China Mall just like we have at home filled with cheap, junky items so we didn’t stay there long.
The China Mall
We followed the others up to Magellan Square in the city centre which is dominated by a statue of Ferdinand Magellan, in Spanish Hernando Magallens, which was erected in 1920 to celebrate the 4th centenary of his arrival in the Magellan Strait and he is described as the discoverer of Chile. The 9m statue is made of concrete and bronze and on the top is Magellan depicted as standing on the bow of a ship facing the strait. At the base of the statue are 2 other statues, one of Ona and Tehuelches who were Indigenous people of whom there is a legend. The are other statues around the monument which have interesting stories as well so I encourage you to go to the link and read about them and other statues in town and there is insufficient space to write about them here. It is said that if one kisses the toe of either Ona or Tehuelches you will have good luck for the rest of the year.
In Magellan Square
Statue of Magellan
Other sculptures on the statue
We left the Square through one corner where we found the small but beautiful Sacred Heart Cathedral or, as it is called in Spanish, Catedral del Sagrado Corazón. It was small and simple inside but beautifully made and maintained as can be seen from the photos below.
Nave and Sanctuary
Bust of Monsenor Joseph Fagnano, 1st Priest
The 3rd place which the Excursion Manager had recommended we visit was the Sara Braun Palace. Sara had come to Chile, with her parents, from Latvia in 1874 to escape Russian persecution due to their Jewish ancestory. She married a wealthy Potuguese shipping magnate, José Nogueira who died at the age of 48. She built a large and imposing building in the neo-French Style which took 10 years to build. Today it is known as the Sara Braun Palace and is beautifully and tastefully furnished and part of it is an hotel named Nogueira. We had been told that the entrance fee was a particular no. of Pesos but that both USD and cards would be accepted but it was not so. Chilean Pesos only!
The Palace of Sara Braun with the hotel at the back
So we chose to do our favourite which is to walk around the town even if they are not the tourist spots. You know, there are times when there are so many tourists it is difficult to get photos without some of them in the photo and Trevor, as the photographer, doesn’t like people in photos of special things. We simply turned up the street and started walking. It gradually got steeper and then the sidewalk turned to stairs due to the steepness of the slope. We reached a point where there was no more road, just a large grassed área with stairs on either side. It seemed to go the very top of the hill and so we continued to climb only to find another road going on from there. Trevor climbed that one only to find nothing of any great interest. There were spectacular views of the bay and the city from up there though.
View of the city and harbour
One of the things I enjoy looking at is the kind of homes that people live in and it was interesting to see quite a variety all in one Street. We walked along the top road until we found another descending one and there was another RC Church there. For some it must have been quite exhausting getting up and down to attend services and other activities. It reminded of the 110 stairs to get up to the Cathedral in Akureyri, Iceland!
The RC Church on the hill
3 different homes. (There are dozens of wires in all the S American towns)
Some small houses
A large home
When we arrived at the next lower street we followed a sign which said that there was one of these signposts showing distances to various places around the world and there was a viewsite. The signposts happeded to be in someone’s private property and were a bit battered but they made some interesting reading. Once again it was very relaxing and inspiring looking down on the city and harbour from another aspect.
The signs in the garden
Paving mosaic at the view site
We slowly walked down a long set of stairs to get to one of the central streets and made our way back to the jetty where we would be picked up by the tender to return to the ship. As we walked into the harbour área we saw some large posters giving information on many of the Antarctic Explorers who had used Punta Arenas as a harbour and a departure point for the Antarctic, thus the description, The Antarctic Gate
Some of the explorers
Some info on the Antarctic ExplorersThe First Scientific Expedition
There was a 2nd cruise ship at Punta Arenas that day as well but checking us all in and on to the correct vessel was very well organised with a tender on each side of the jetty and excellent signage.
Terns on the beach