Holiday in Chile (9): Punta Arenas 

The rest of Wednesday was free so we spent the afternoon relaxing in our hotel room and the evening having a meal in the hotel while the weather – in true Patagonian style – blew a gale and poured with rain. Indeed it rained ALL night.

Essentially our Chile holiday was over. For the next three days, we would be travelling home but, for the next two days, we would still be in Chile and there would still be things to see.

So, on Thursday, we left the Hotel Grey and travelled south-east to Punta Arenas where we had landed in Patagonia on Monday. We left the national park from a different point from that which we entered (Rio Serrano) and made two stops during the day. 

First, w e returned to Hotel Costaustralis in Puerto Natales where we had spent one night on Monday. Most of the group did not realise that this was because I had accidentally left a jacket there, but the visit doubled up as a toilet stop. Since we were in town, it was still raining,  and we had some time, we called into a cafe-cum-shop called “Nandu” for refreshment or retail therapy depending on the individual.  

The second, longer, stop was at an estancio or ranch called Cerro Negro which translates as black hill. This sheep farm was established by a Croatian immigrant a couple of generations ago and now has 6,000 merino sheep for meat and wool. We had lunch of delicious roast lamb cooked over an open furnace and then called into the sheep shearing shed (it was too wet for actually shearing) and the first family home (all the original furnishing has been retained).

Having left Hotel Grey towards 9 am, we arrived at our hotel in Punta Arenas (Cabo de Hornos) some time before 5 pm.  The town sits on the edge of the Strait of Magellan and, at 53’ 10” latitude, it  is one of the most southerly towns on the planet (Ushuaia in Argentina is a bit further south  but less populated). 

The majority of the group again followed a Valentina suggestion for dinner and she joined us. “La Luna” is a colourful restaurant with lots of decorations and posters and walls covered in notes from customers. The food was good too. 

Next morning (Friday), at the end of the Earth (aka Punta Arenas), once we had had breakfast and packed, there was only a couple of hours before we were due to leave for the airport. Silvia and I were not going to let those two hours go to waste.

So – braving the cold and very gusty winds – we took in three sights: a plaque commenting the time in the town of the British 20th century explorer Robert Falcon Scott, a statue commemorating the role of the Spanish 16th century explorer Ferdinand  Magellan, and the municipal cemetery with lots and lots of dramatic resting places some of which are the size of small homes. 


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