Welcome to Chile's City at the End of The World – a wind-whipped, fractured land of islands, glacial fjords and mountains, which drop away towards Antarctica. A hardy city, where the temperature hovers in single figures throughout the year, Punta Arenas nevertheless offers a warm welcome and refuge, ahead of - and following - epic adventures and expeditions south across Drake Passage. Captain Scott stopped in here – testing the postal service to the limit with messages of his successful return - and the city welcomed the rescued Ernest Shackleton and his Endurance crew to these shores in 1904.
Punta Arenas is a remote place, but with custom-free status, and more than 100,000 people calling it home it's also surprisingly cosmopolitan. The commercial centre of Magallanes Punta Arenas is fueled by lucrative barrels of Chilean oil - and establishing itself as a global centre for Antarctic research, with teams from various countries basing themselves here. The town is built around the Plaza de Armas central square - be sure to kiss the toe of the statue, said to guarantee your safe return. Look down across this colourful city, stretching out to meet the waters of the Straits of Magellan, from the viewpoint at Cerro De La Cruz.
Natural wonders abound, whether it’s Alberto de Agostini National Park’s glacial sculptures, or Torres del Paine National Park’s soaring mountains, rushing waterfalls and picturesque lakes. Offshore, in the Strait of Magellan, you can find the birdlife sanctuary of Magdalena Island - an uninhabited island, where hundreds of thousands of penguins march and crowds of cormorants and gulls call out. View the penguins from the platform of the red and white striped lighthouse and look out across an endless expanse of pairs below.