From the beautiful Torres del Paine NP, we continued our trip south. The next stop was Punta Arenas.
Punta Arenas is the largest city in the south of Chile and the southernmost city in the world with more than 100,000 residents. In many guidebooks and travel blogs Punta Arenas is described as the most beautiful city in Patagonia. We are not so sure about this. It’s an interesting city but altogether we liked the vibes of Puerto Varas, Puerto Natales, Puerto Piramides, and especially San Martín de los Andes better.
The coastal road of Punta Arenas, Borde Costero, offers a nice view of the Magellan Strait and is worth a short stroll.
The city center around the Plaza de Armas has many lovely historic buildings.
But the city has not only historic buildings but surprisingly also a few interesting modern and diverse Cafés. But these places are often a bit hidden from the main streets and have to be found.
From the Cerro de la Cruz you have a nice overview of the city.
Cementerio Municipal Sara Braun
The highlight of Punta Arenas is the local cemetery. It’s located close to the city center and it’s a very special place with many beautiful buildings. You can easily spend a few hours there.
After two days in Punta Arenas, we crossed the Magellan Strait using the ferry from Punta Arenas to Porvenir. The ferry runs once or twice a day (depending on the day), costs about 70€ (for three people and a vehicle), and takes about 2 hours to reach Porvenir.
On the ferry we met Tjorven and Claus, a Swiss-German couple driving along the Panamericana with their lovely red Mercedes Sprinter. If you want to follow them, their blog can be found here. It’s definitely worth a look.
Luckily we were able to watch some dolphins during our crossing.
Two hours later we reached Porvenir.
It’s a small village with many beautiful artworks reminding the native people of this place.
We rented there a clean and cheap cabin for one night.
Parque Pingüino Rey
About 2 hours south of Porvenir you can find another colony of penguins. What makes this colony very special is, that it is inhabited by King Penguins which you can normally find only in Antarctica.
They are much larger than the Magellanic Penguins and also more colorful.
You can also find other interesting birds in this reserve (the following image and some of the other wildlife images in this post were shot by Linnéa).
If you want to visit the penguin reserve you have to book the tickets and timeslot in advance using this link. The number of people is limited and you get one hour of time at the penguins with your reservation. The price is 13€ per person. If you want to do some more serious wildlife photography then one hour might be not enough. But it’s easily possible to book two consecutive timeslots (for twice the price). That’s what we did. By the way, tripods are allowed at the viewpoints, a flash of course not.
After our visit to the penguin reserve, we wanted to further explore the wilderness of Chilean Tierra del Fuego. We continued on the Y-85 to the Lago Blanco.
On the way, we stopped at an abandoned old gold-mining machine (used from 1904 until 1910).
The landscape along the way was already very beautiful with lichen-covered trees and abundant wildlife.
At Lago Blanco, we rented a rustic cabin for 100€ a night for a few days. This was our base camp for the explorations of the very remote areas of Chilean Tierra del Fuego.
There are no gas stations in the area. Therefore a couple of jerry cans (or a long-range tank) are a must.
Even the beautiful Lago Blanco was already very wild and remote. No cellphone connection, no Wifi, and no electricity (only some battery-powered lights). And we were the only tourists there.
The sunsets at the lake were just stunning.
Paso Río Bellavista
Theoretically, there is a very nice shortcut to get from Lago Blanco to Ushuaia, the Paso Río Bellavista. Sadly, we got the information that it’s been closed since Covid times. Nevertheless, we decided to drive the Y-769 to the pass and check it out by ourselves.
Along the road, you can find a stunningly beautiful fairy-tale forest.
The border crossing was indeed still closed but the landscape was worth the tour to the pass.
Valle de los Castores
Close to Lago Blanco is the Valle de los Castores.
As the name implies it’s a valley where many beavers live and countless of their impressive constructions can be seen. It’s a two-edged sword. The beavers are not native to this region. Their origin is Canada and they were introduced by humans many years ago. And since there are no predators that hunt beavers in this area (pumas can’t be found that far south) they multiply at a high rate and have a significant impact on the landscape.
On the other hand, they are really cute and we could spend hours watching them.
Y-85 – the unfinished road to Yendegaia
Next, we wanted to explore the Y-85 as far south as possible. The Y-85 is an ambitious project. In a few years, the road will connect Yendegaia (which can currently only be reached by boat) with Porvenir. Even a direct connection between the south of Chile with Ushuaia could be possible.
But currently, this road is not finished. According to Google Maps, this road ends at the Puente Río Azopardo next to the Lago Cami (better known by its Argentinian name Lago Fagnano). According to Maps.me the road continues already for a few more km after the bridge. We wanted to find out how far we could get.
Already at the beginning of the track the landscape was impressive with countless guanacos to watch.
Along the road, some historic buildings like the Estancia Vicuña from 1915 can be found.
Before reaching the Lago Cami two passes have to be crossed.
From the first pass, you have a lovely view of the valley below and the Lago Deseado.
I even found some cushion plants at the pass. I love them and had some interesting adventures in Tasmania to find them there. You can read the whole story here.
The next pass was between the Lago Deseado and the Lago Cami. The landscape along the pass looks very Alpine
At Lago Cami (Lago Fagnano) the landscape changed again completely and got even more spectacular.
Luckily the road didn’t end at the Puente Río Azopardo. The section behind the bridge was the most impressive one.
About 11 km after the bridge the Fin De Camino was finally reached. It was definitely worth the long drive from Porvenir. The landscape along the road is stunningly beautiful and it’s already one of the most impressive roads in Patagonia. When it is finished one day I have to return and drive the complete track to Yendegaia.
From the Puente Río Azopardo, starts a side track to the Caleta María.
13 km later another Fin Camino and the ocean were reached.
Caleta María is a very small village with just a few houses. It feels very wild and remote there. We loved it.
After a short stroll along the lovely beach with all its driftwood it was time to drive back to our base camp at the Lago Blanco.
Since it was clear that we would reach the Lago Blanco long after sunset we decided to stop at the Lago Cami and have our dinner there. As you can imagine from the following image it was quite cold and windy there in the evening.
Altogether the Y-85 was another highlight of our Patagonia trip and can be highly recommended. The road condition is quite good. In good weather, a 4×4 is not needed.
wunderbarere Bilder, die mir so richtig Lust auf die kommende Reise nach Chile/Argentinen im November diesen Jahres machen.
Ein kleiner Tipp, falls Sie es nicht ohnehin schon auf dem Plan haben:
Wenn Sie nach Bolivien zum Salar de Uyuni reisen, unbedingt den Eisenbahnfriedhof in Uyuni besichtigen. Auf dem Salar die Insel Incahuasi mit den jahhundertalten, riesigen Kakteen besichtigen – Übernachten im Salzhotel Colchani – Uyuni ist hässlich und dient nur zum Landen und Abfliegen. Und natürlich mindestens die Lagunen Colorado und Verde besichtigen (Letztere zur Mittagszeit, dann ist diese besonders schön grün/türkis) und, wenn genug Zeit ist, die Flamingo Lagunen Ramaditas, Honda und Hedionda. Und als Landschaftsfotograf den versteinerten Baum zum Sonnenuntergang nicht auslassen: Árbol de Piedra.
Viele schöne neue Eindrücke auf Ihrer Reise wünscht,
Hallo Klaus, vielen Dank für die vielen Tipps zu Bolivien. Können wir gut gebrauchen.
Viele Grüße, Boris