Getting to the Windy Chilean South, the Deep South

19 yrs ago, when I spent 3 months in Chile with work, I dreamt of going to Punta Arenas and the southern tip of the American hemisphere (American as in the Americas’ hemisphere).  However, the three flights a day or so they had back then were not available on the dates I could travel.  Perhaps that was all for the better as the Internet and such resources didn’t exist and I wonder how I would have determined exactly what to do and where to go had I been able to make it then…

But the yearning remained and for 18 yrs, the yearning included getting back to Chile, period.  Well, that happened in November 2009 but the trip down south was still a “pending”.  As my work in Chile wrapped up close to 13 months later, I figured I needed to make this happen.  So I made it happen.  I only had a few days between the Christmas holiday and the end of my assignment so I cut my assignment short a couple of days to give me a full 5 days down south (yes, not enough but enough to hit the items I wanted to hit).

I searched online for possible ways to organize my visit but work was in the most difficult stage (pre-rollout and rollout of 4 new systems, 2 of them major, for my client in Chile).  So I didn’t get to do my research and planning as I would have liked.  I ended up using an agency to organize my visit (www.visitchile.cl).  Margarita was my contact there and was very helpful in organizing what I was interested in with an efficient itinerary and offering a couple of good suggestions.

So, all I had to do was get my plane ticket and go.  The direct flights from Santiago turned out to not be convenient in terms of schedules so I ended up taking the flight that makes a stop in Puerto Montt (abt 30 mins, you don’t get off the plane unless that is your destination).  Pricewise, it wasn’t dirt cheap but given I booked all this about 3 weeks or so in advance, I did well enough.

So I took a 630 AM flight down south.  A major sacrifice as you can imagine…  I landed close to 11 AM in Punta Arenas, expecting a lot of turbulence given the famous strong winds in the area.  The plane barely moved as we approached, took a hard bank right, and landed.  As I met my driver, he told me the day before they had had about 120kph winds and planes were made to circle for like 40 minutes until it was safe to land, safe to use the jetways, and safe for ground crews to be out and about (I asked myself, why not land the planes, park them off the runway, and save those poor passengers all the jumping around…).  Later in my trip, people I met who flew on that day described rather disturbing jumping around as they landed in Pta Arenas and I counted my blessings!!

Pta Arenas is not, in my limited exploring, a beautiful town.  While you sit in the Straits of Magellan, I can’t say the setting is beautiful per se (I hear this is in contrast with Ushuaia in Argentina which I did not get to visit) but the winds, the penguins by the waterfront, and the idea of where I am in relation to the rest of the world did make me feel I was somewhere different, perhaps special.

Near the Costanera (waterfront road) in Punta Arenas

Typical architecture near the Plaza de Armas

Pta Arenas was just the start of my trip and certainly was not going to be the highlight as I was soon to find out…

Comments

  1. Hi! Excellent way to start your trip to Patagonia, a unique place in the world with archaeological, anthropological, historic and cultural attractives. There you have thousand of attractions to discover, beautiful landscapes, native indian vestiges, historic fortresses and much more. Here you will find more useful tips for more Chile tours . Best regards!

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