Beginning the Journey into Patagonia: Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales

While Punta Arenas was my entry point to Patagonia (see map for a good visual!), I wasn’t going to spend too much time there – I had places to go in Patagonia!   Punta Arenas is known for being very windy but much to my joy, the landing was very smooth.

Final approach before landing in Punta Arenas, Chile

Final approach before finally landing in Punta Arenas!

After a quick lunch at La Luna near the new costanera (“coastal”) avenue (chupe de centolla – a delicious king crab dish) and a failed attempt at using a coffee shop’s wi-fi on Ave. Pedro Montt after buying a coffee (the wi-fi “didn’t” work, something that seems to affect most places in this part of the country who claim to have one…), I walked around town for a couple of hours before I finally left town to head north into the heart of the Chilean Patagonia.

Chupe de centolla (crab dish) in Punta Arenas, Chile

Chupe de centolla. Yum!

Building in Punta Arenas, Chile

Building in Punta Arenas, Chile

Waterfront in Punta Arenas, Chile

Along the waterfront

Cormoranes in Punta Arenas, Chile

Cormoranes on the waterfront of Punta Arenas

I made a stop at the penguin colony in Otway (I didn’t know I was going to see penguins right off the waterfront in Punta Arenas!).  It was fascinating to walk among all the penguin nests on the shores of this body of water (more enclosed than a bay, but not a lake) – you stay on a slightly elevated walkway to avoid mis-stepping onto a penguin nest.

Penguins in Otway, north of Punta Arenas, Chile

On the way to see the penguins with dark skies in the distance

I was beginning to feel the wind and also be slightly disoriented in terms of direction.  In Punta Arenas the water was to the east of the town yet somehow my brain thought it would be south and my many months in Chile would make me expect water to the west of land.  Going to Otway, the water was to the west again.  But my brain had a hard time processing this as I had not studied a map yet.  My driver told me everyone from Chile goes through the same disorientation so I felt better.

Penguins in Otway, north of Punta Arenas, Chile

Heading to the beach

Penguins in Otway, north of Punta Arenas, Chile

“I’m sexy and I know it”

Penguins in Otway, north of Punta Arenas, Chile

At the beach!

Penguins in Otway, north of Punta Arenas, Chile

Younger penguin testing his strut

From Otway, we went back east to the main road again and headed north the remaining 2.5 hrs or so until we got to Puerto Natales, a small town of perhaps 20k inhabitants that tends to serve as the main launching point to explore the Chilean Patagonia.  I am assuming El Calafate may serve a slightly similar purpose on the Argentine Patagonia.  Puerto Natales does not have necessarily tons of charm but going to the coastal avenue does provide a 180 degree (plus) view of mountains and water that is very nice.

I stayed at a nice hotel called Aquaterra whose staff was very friendly and helpful even if the rooms were somewhat spartan.  The best eating experience in Puerto Natales had to be the highly recommended La Picada de Carlitos.  I was expecting to eat meat but the waiter recommended the chupe de centolla and, boy, he was right!  It was phenomenal and easily beat the one I had at La Luna in Punta Arenas.  Here is what it looked like:

Other than this, the only other thing to call out about Puerto Natales that I saw was some of the architecture and some bright coloring of house facades.  I found the town to be charming and a great platform to launch into the rest of Patagonia.  The views from its waterfront were beautiful.

Rainbow and dark sky in Puerto Natales, Chile

House in Puerto Natales, Chile

Church in Puerto Natales, Chile

View north from Puerto Natales, Chile

Puerto Natales waterfront view

Yours truly loving life!

From here I would begin my visit to Torres del Paine, glaciers and fjords…  Majestic!!



  1. Great post – I wish I’d seen penguins when I was in Puerto Natales.

  2. that chupe looks amazing. I need to go to Patagonia. And the rest of South America. Thank you for this
    @mrsoaroundworld recently posted..Luxury African adventure: Malawian style by @davidsbeenhereMy Profile

    • I’d love to give you my 20,000 tips for that trip! I love that part of the world. Then again, I love a few parts of the world.

  3. I love the penguins Raul. I saw these guys when I was in Punta Tombo, Argentina. It’s amazing how far inland they come – I never expected to see a penguin that far from the sea.
    John recently posted..The Joys of Traveling By MopedMy Profile

    • I went realizing I would see some but the setting in Otway blew me away – so unspoilt (even with the boardwalk) and serene. Will make a note of Punta Tombo; I didn’t go to the Argentine side of Patagonia except to El Calafate to see Perito Moreno (the glacier).

  4. I’d planned to go to Argentina and this summer too but the flights from Europe were much too expensive! The photographs are incredible, really envious now!
    Fiona recently posted..The Dublin Edit: Literary Bookshops in DublinMy Profile

    • You have to make it down there some time!! It is pricey to fly down there for sure, even from the States (though maybe not as much as from Europe?).

  5. I love penguins, so naturally this was a great post for me:)
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..PGA National Resort – Check-In FloridaMy Profile

  6. PENGUINS! Such cutties they are. And that king crab dish…you’re an evil man, Raul. Divine!
    Leah Travels recently posted..Fall GirlMy Profile

  7. Raul… Patagonia is probably in the top 3 on my bucket list. You are so lucky to have been there! Thanks for shring your memories and these beautiful pictures.
    Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..Photo of the Week: Nationals Park in Washington, DCMy Profile


  1. […] I will also get to see Patagonia and the key sights down there – Torres del Paine, the Magellan Straits by Punta Arenas, the Perito Moreno glacier, and a few other sights.  Places left to see or see […]

  2. […] that is entry point to the Torres del Paine National Park.  It is about 150 miles northwest of Punta Arenas and serves also as an entry point to the glaciers that kiss the water in this part of Patagonia […]

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