CRUISE COASTAL PATAGONIA & THE ‘END OF THE EARTH’
From Puerto Chacabuco, in the Aysén District in Northeast Chilean Patagonia, to Punta Arenas, in the Strait of Magellan, prepare to feel small as scene after scene of stunning natural beauty unfolds before your eyes
Steep, rugged shores abound as you cruise through the Chilean Fjords’ vast network of free, open channels that wind their way to the end of the Earth. Watch in awe as glaciers reach down from the Darwin and Andes Mountains to break gracefully into the sea.
Aboard Azamara Pursuit, follow Chile’s southwest coast between Punta Arenas, in the Strait of Magellan, and Puerto Chacabuco, a small town that’s more of a gateway to some of the most beautiful natural scenery and larger towns in Northern Chilean Patagonia. Explore Glacier Alley, the Beagle Channel, the Chilean Fjords, Patagonic Channels, the Canal Moraleda, and other scenic areas first explored by brave pioneers in the 1600s.
In Punta Arenas, where the Strait of Magellan connects the Atlantic and Pacific, you’ll be at the gateway to Chilean Patagonia to the north and Antarctica to the south. Before the Panama Canal, Punta Arenas was a major port and channel, but it remains a diverse, bustling city due to its abundant natural resources and proximity to adventure in every direction.
From penguin spotting on Isla Magdalena and kayaking in the Strait of Magellan, there’s much to explore. Stroll the main Plaza de Armas, a square surrounded by landmarks and beautiful stately mansions, the most famous and opulent of which is the Palacio Sara Braun, a must-see former home of the female gold and sheep tycoon from the late 1800s.
The Plaza Muñoz Gamero, another central plaza, holds a memorial to explorer Ferdinand Magellan, and the Museo Nao Victoria even features a replica of one of his galleons. The many massive, elegant mausoleums and tombs of the Municipal Cemetery—ranked as one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world—are also a sight to behold and can be found just a walk away from the plaza. If you’re looking for retail therapy, there are no better places than the duty free area or Avenida Bories, the city’s main shopping street, to get souvenirs or something special for your trip.
A maze of fjords, rivers, and mountains wind up the southwestern coast to Puerto Chacabuco, a small town in Northeastern Chilean Patagonia. Its immense river valleys and snowy backdrop of the Southern Andes beckon visitors inland for even more incredible natural scenery, hiking, fishing, and wildlife.
Venture inland to the town of Puerto Aisén, where you can shop for local arts and crafts, and savor superb Chilean cuisine at any number of restaurants. Enjoy sprawling views of snow-capped mountains at Lake Los Palos, and in the nearby town of Coihaique, there’s even more to discover including a popular local market with a wide variety sheepskin and wool items, including sweaters and rugs. At Coihaique’s cathedral, learn the region’s natural and cultural history at the Museo Regional de la Patagonia, which features intriguing exhibits and photographs from pioneer days.
Visit Río Simpson National Reserve, home to cougars and vast rugged landscape spanning nearly 100,000 acres. Enjoy pristine waterfalls, crystal-clear channels, gorges, and peaks soaring as high as 5,248 feet above sea level. Equally majestic and picturesque are the glacier-fed San Rafael Lagoon and Patagonian Ice Field.
In Coihaique's Plaza de Armas (main square), this market is one of the town’s most popular attractions. Browse a wide variety of crafts and local items made with sheepskin and wool, including sweaters and rugs. Next to the market you’ll also find Coihaique’s quaint A-frame cathedral and a variety of pubs and restaurants.
A 20-minute boat ride from Puerto Chacabuco brings you to Deer Island, or Isla Carmen, found in the middle of the Aisén Fjord and home to a couple hundred red deer, one of the largest deer species in the world. Much like the area they’re found in, even if you don’t spot a deer (they tend to be shy), the journey itself is as exhilarating as the destination.
Monumento Natural Los Pingüinos
Monumento Natural Los Pingüinos
Isla Magdalena, one of the islands in the Strait of Magellan, holds Los Pingüinos Natural Monument, a reserve named for the islands many ambassadors, the Magellanic penguin. Depending on the season, find a colony of more than 100,000 here, in addition to cormorants, sea lions, and sea elephants.