Day 4 – Punta Arenas Chiles Most Southern Most City

Day 4
Punta Arenas (pop 130,000)
It was not even light as we crept out of The Aubrey at 0645 and set off for the airport.  By 0840 we were sitting on our Airbus A319 operated by Sky Airline waiting to take off for Punta Arenas.

It’s a journey of nearly 4 hours given that we land at Porto Mott and stay on the ground for some 30 minutes while some passengers disembark and others join.
Touch the toe of the statue to ensure you return to Punta Arenas 
Waiting in Punta Arenas is Oscar our locally born guide and minder for our stay.  Oscar has spent time in the USA and speaks American fluently and really knows his city.  He works for Comapaowned by the same company as operates Australis the shipping company that operate the Discovery cruise ship we are to travel in.
Named after the prominent and only sandy beach in the area Punta Arenas is Chiles most southern city and the most southerly city in the world.  We began our city tour with lunch at Sotito’s Bar and then a brisk walk along the seafront to work off the calories.
Our meal cost 31,000 pesos US$56 or £33
Along the way we jetties of what was once Port Loretto were finally abandoned in 1940 and now lay disused and rotting.  The railway lines that served it, rusting away and the pilings of the dock proving a popular roosting place for the white bellied cormorant often confused with penguins by visitors and it only becomes clear which is which when they learn that the cormorants can fly whereas the penguin cannot.

Replica of Nao Victoria Magellen’s Ship of Discovery
In 1843 Captain John Williams of the goleta Ancudsailed from the island of Chiloé north of here with a group of settlers to build Fort Bulnes and so claim jurisdiction over the important water way that offered a shorter and safer route around the foot of South America.  His feat is remembered through an impressive new monument that stands now proudly on the sea front overlooking the Strait.
The cemetery is enchanting and well worth a visit
Our tour also takes in the local cemetery so pretty that it has earned itself high up in the worlds Top Ten most beautiful cemeteries.  The Maggiofino Borgatello museum in the city centre provides an impressive over view of the area and its progression over time and is well worth a visit and a trip up the hill “Cerro de la Cruz” is a must for the obligatory over view of the city and its anchorage and port facilities.

We board Via Australis at 6:00 pm.  After a welcome cocktail reception hosted by our Captain Jaime Iturra and his crew the ship we set sail for “the uttermost part of the earth”. Our trip takes us through the Strait of Magellan and Beagle Channel.

Tomorrow we begin our exploration of one of the most breath taking wilderness regions in the world:  Southern Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego.