Tierra del Fuego picture
Thierry Dupradou/Sernatur

Key Info

Southern Chilean Patagonia

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area Type
More than Full Day Time to Spend
4.5

scorecard

  • 5.0Value
  • 3.0Food Scene
  • 5.0Atmosphere

This enchanting triangular archipelago is separated from the southernmost tip of Chilean Patagonia by the Strait of Magellan and has captivated the minds of explorers, scientists, and curious wanderers. Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan first arrived here about 500 years ago, cruising through Tierra del Fuego's remote straits on a quest for Asian spices. And in the 1800s, Charles Darwin sailed to the region's rustic frontier aboard the HMS Beagle. Tierra del Fuego's name (meaning "Land of Fire") stems from passing sailors who first stumbled upon the region and saw the indigenous Yámana tribe's campfires blazing across its shoreline.

Today, travelers come from across the globe to marvel at Tierra del Fuego's emerald-hued bodies of water and brightly gleaming glaciers. While visiting, you'll likely want to pay a visit to Tierra del Fuego National Park, which backs the Chilean Patagonian border on the Argentine side of Tierra del Fuego. This park boasts an array of wildlife and fauna as well as the green-hued Laguna Verde lagoon. Most importantly, Tierra del Fuego acts as a gateway to Antarctica. Hop on the Transbordador Austral Broom ferry to skirt Cape Horn by sea, which allows for some great views of "the end of the world."

Sitting on the Strait of Magellan, the charming town of Porvenir serves as a base for exploring the Chilean side of Tierra del Fuego. Ushuaia, across the border in Argentina, also makes for an excellent starting point for navigating through southern Patagonia. Between September and March, a variety of ferries depart from Punta Arenas to Ushauia. For more information, check out our guide to Getting Around Chilean Patagonia.

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#1 Southern Chilean Patagonia

Occupying the southernmost area of the country, Southern Chilean Patagonia (SCP) draws visitors looking to admire the breathtaking landscape. Most visitors flock to Chile's southernmost province—also known as Magallanes (named after 16th-century conquistador Ferdinand Magellan)—to admire Patagonia's breathtaking landscape. From Magallanes' capital city, Punta Arenas, you can journey to Torres del Paine to admire its striking jagged peaks or head to Isla Magdalena to snap photos of thousands of Magellanic penguins scurrying along the shoreline.

Southern Chilean Patagonia is beyond secluded—separated by the Strait of Magellan and two soaring ice caps—but that only adds to its mystique as the gateway to Antarctica. The best way to reach Southern Chilean Patagonia is by plane from Santiago to Punta Arenas. It's also easy to access this region from Southern Argentine Patagonia. Cancha Carrera is a popular border-crossing, located between Torres del Paine and El Calafate (Argentina). Just be sure to acquire a visa before crossing; you can do so at an Argentine consulate in Santiago or before leaving home. For further details on how to navigate Southern Chilean Patagonia, consult our guide to Getting Around Chilean Patagonia.

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