Chile (February-March 2016): Puerto Williams and Beagle Channel

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Puerto Williams (pop. 2200) is the capital of the Chilean Antarctic Province, one of the 4 provinces that form the Magallanes y Antartica Chilena Region. It is the only town on Navarino Island and the southernmost town in the world. It was officially founded in 1953. However, the area had been inhabited by the Yaghan people for more than 10,000 years. Today, there remains only a few Yaghans living in Villa Ukika, a tiny village just outside Puerto Williams. Puerto Williams is mainly a Chilean naval base. The other significant economic activity is fishing, especially of centolla (southern king crab). Puerto Williams is connected with Punta Arenas by daily flights (on small airplanes) and a weekly ferry. I only spent a couple of days in Puerto Williams before and after trekking around the Dientes Mountains.

 

Views over the Strait of Magellan and Terra del Fuego during the Twin Otter flight to Puerto Williams...

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...and later over the impressive Cordillera Darwin.

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Central plaza of Puerto Williams.

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Left: Fisherman house with centolla (southern king crab) traps. Right: House with mural paintings showing traditional body paintings of Yaghan people.

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Puerto Williams seen from a location near the airport.

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Small marina used by recreational sailing yachts.

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A small channel between the airport and Puerto Williams, with Cerro Bandera (610m) on the left and the Dientes in the background on the right.

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View toward the north from the shore of Puerto Williams on an unusually sunny wind-free day. Argentinian Tierra del Fuego is on the other side of the Beagle Channel.

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Left: Fishing boat. Right: Europa, a three-mast rigged vessel registered in the Netherlands that had anchored for a night in the Beagle Channel.

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View of the Beagle Channel toward the west with snowy mountain ranges (not on Navarino Island) in the background.

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Geese on the shore of the Beagle Channel.

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Typical cloudy skies above the Beagle Channel.

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I had arrived in Puerto Williams on a sunny day. I left on a rainy windy day.

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