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Puerto Williams is the largest city on the Navarino Island of the Tierra del Fuego Archipelago in the extreme south of Chile. It is the capital of the Antarctica Chilena province of the Región de Magallanes y de la Antártica Chilena. It is on the Beagle Canal, about 35 km southeast of the Argentine city of Ushuaia.

The place with about 1,900 inhabitants (2017) is one of the southernmost settlements in the world. Only the tiny fishing village of Puerto Toro is a little further south. It is interesting for travelers because of the wild and romantic nature and the diverse trekking opportunities.

Understand[edit]

00 124 2490 Puerto Williams - Südamerika (Feuerland - Tierra del Fuego).jpg

This is the last inhabited city on the continent and the exchange of dollars to Chilean pesos is better than in Santiago de Chile and even in Punta Arenas.

The fact that a place was founded in such a remote area is primarily due to military-strategic reasons. For a long time Chile argued with Argentina over some islands in the Beagle Channel, which were finally awarded to Chile in 1978. Puerto Williams was founded in 1953 as Puerto Luisa as a naval base and renamed to its current name in 1956. The military still make up the majority of the population.

The place is a natural paradise and is called by many globetrotters the "real end of the world" - a designation for which the Argentine, much larger city of Ushuaia competes and which does much more advertising for itself. Puerto Williams, on the other hand, is a destination for nature-lovers; mass tourism as with the neighbors is not aimed at, the environmental requirements are strict.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Five to six times a week there is a flight to Punta Arenas with Aerovías DAP. Due to COVID-19, non-residents must request prior authorization from Barrera Sanitaria .

There is also a charter flight that flies over Cape Horn.

By boat[edit]

00 124 2492 Puerto Williams - Südamerika (Feuerland - Tierra del Fuego).jpg

There is a regular ferry service (Yaghan Ferry) between Puerto Williams and Punta Arenas, once or twice a week depending on the season. The fare for residents is subsidized by the state, price for foreigners from approx. 108,000 pesos in the semi-reclining seat (limited contingent that is only released for foreigners shortly before departure) or 151,000 pesos in the reclining seat (advance booking possible) (May 2021 prices). Journey time approx. 32 hours, with arrival at night, which is then also spent on the boat before you can disembark the next morning. Simple meals included. Requests for special diets must ge made in advance.

There is no official ferry between Ushuaia and Puerto Williams, but there are several private boat operators who make the crossing from around US$100 (usually a combination of a bus trip to Puerto Navarino and a subsequent rubber boat trip over the Beagle Channel). A cheaper option is to ask sailors in the marina whether they can take you to the other side for a small allowance.

Get around[edit]

See[edit]

Casa Stirling at Martin Gusinde Anthropological Museum
  • Nuestra Señora del Carmen. The Nuestra Señora del Carmen Church is the most distinctive building in the city due to its modern architecture with Norwegian influences (acute-angled roof). You can also visit the first house in Puerto Williams, which was built in traditional Patagonian architecture, but was not built until 1953; there was a radio station here.
  • Martin Gusinde Anthropological Museum (Museo Antropológico Martín Gusinde), Aragay corner Gusinde, +56 6 1262 1043. Tu-F 09:30–13:00 and 14:30-17:30, Sa 14:30-18:30. Ethnographic, historical and archaeological exhibitions about the history of Tierra del Fuego and the Yagan people. Martin Gusinde Anthropological Museum (Q6775581) on Wikidata Martin Gusinde Anthropological Museum on Wikipedia

Do[edit]

Dientes de Navarino

You can explore the Cerro de la Bandera, the highest point on the island, or walk to Ukika village, a small hamlet where the last descendants of the Yamana Indians live.

If you have time and luck you can watch the arrival of the Chilean Navy ships. If you come across a freighter going to Cape Horn they may take you for free.

Another activity is adventure trekking (as long as it is summer and you are very well prepared), camping and sport fishing. Longer trekking tours include Lago Windhond, and the Dientes Circuit.

In the area there are numerous glaciers, waterfalls, dense rainforests, moors (turbas) and rocky gorges.

Buy[edit]

The range of fresh fruit and vegetables in the 3 supermarkets is determined by the arrival of the ferry from Punta Arenas (twice a week in the high season, otherwise weekly), otherwise you will mainly find canned goods and deep-frozen meat. Since everything comes by ship, the prices are a bit higher than in the rest of Chile.

If you are traveling from the opposite Ushuaia , you should do most of your errands there if possible (much more choice), but also think about import restrictions for fruit, meat and dairy products (although this is not taken very strictly and is often turned a blind eye on entry) .

Gas (DIN screw cartridge) is available locally from Simon & Simon and is also much cheaper there than in the trekking shops in Ushuaia.

Eat[edit]

  • Resto del Sur, Ricardo Maragano 146, +56 9 6580 0231. Tu-Sa 12:30-22:00, Su 12:30-19:00. Extensive menu with salads, pizzas, pastas and main dishes. Free Wi-Fi.

Drink[edit]

Sleep[edit]

  • Hostal El Resto del Sur, Ricardo Maragano 146, +56 61 621849. The hostel has a cafe-restaurant and free Wi-Fi for customers. From US$15.
  • Hostal El Padrino (directly opposite the ferry terminal). Simple and cheap backpacker hostel with kitchen, very nice owner, who usually brings free breakfast and drops in for a chat.
  • Hostal Camblor, Teniente Capdeville 41. +56 61 621033.
  • Hostel Coiron, Ricardo Maragaño 168. +56 993548322.
  • Hostal Patagonia, Yelcho esq. Guardia Brito. +56 61 621075. With internet connection.
  • Hostal Pusaki, Piloto pardo 222. +56 61 621116. With a restaurant. Wifi available.
  • Hostal Yagan, Piloto Pardo 260. +56 61 621223. With a restaurant.
  • Hostal Bapaiv, Austral Nº 28. +56 61 621417. With a restaurant.

Connect[edit]

Go next[edit]

This city travel guide to Puerto Williams is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.