Punta Arenas

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February 12th 2007
Published: February 24th 2007
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Arriving in Punta Arenas after a three hour bus ride from Puerto Natales we collected our bags and walked to our hostel al Fin del Mundo (meaning: At the end of the World). I would recommend this hostel as the people who operate it are very nice. Punta Arenas is a town of good size (110,000) but it looks and feels like a small town. I think this is due to the town being spread out and most buildings are only one or two stories in height. Our hostel was only two blocks from the Plaza de Armes (or called Plaza Munoz Gamero).
Our first day consisted of getting tickets for our excursion the next day, eating and wandering aimlessly. I have decided one of my favorite things about meals in Chile and Argentina is that with the bread they serve not only butter but salsa (it is more onions than tomatoes but yummy).
We started out the next day walking to the city cemetery. It is similar to the one we visited in Buenos Aires. It has huge tombs some being more ornate than others. Some of the walkways are lined with huge Cypress trees trimmed to resemble large bells. There are also regular grave sites and a tomb dedicated solely to the remains of the last Selk’nam Indians of Tierra del Fuego.
Our excursion was a ferry ride to the Island of Magdalena where a penguin colony lives. It has approximately 60,000 pairs of Magellanic penguins and their chicks. One brochure estimated the population at 150,000. These penguins are also called Jackass penguins due to the braying sound they make. The penguin couples take shifts: one taking care of the chick and nest while the other heads to sea to fish. They change positions every morning and late afternoon. We were there during the afternoon change, which is why in some of our pictures the penguins are lined up on the beaches going to or from the sea.
We boated in the Straight of Magellan going to the penguin colony. I was surprised by how calm the waters were, but as Scott pointed out the land protects the waterway. Lake Washington is rougher in the afternoons than what we were on.
We had dinner at a “fancy” restaurant it was yummy. The prices were high for Chilean standards but very reasonable for us. Scott tried the Patagonian lamb while I had some of their “loco” chowder and then an awesome Dijon Chicken with mushrooms.
We did not get much sleep that night as we left for the airport at 2:30 am for our 3:55 am flight to Santiago.

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