Southern Chile covers an area roughly from Puerto Montt and further south to the Strait of Magellan and the islands of Tierra del Fuego and O’Higgins Land.
According to politicsezine, Chilean Patagonia is a harsh region, stretching in a narrow strip along the Andean ridges along the Pacific coast. The climate is from humid moderately cold in Los Lagos to polar with heavy snowfalls in the Antarctic territory of Chile.
There are thousands of islands (the northernmost of which is considered Chiloe), islets, channels, fiords, crashing into the ocean of mountains.
The mountains of Patagonia are covered with forests. Some fiords protrude into the land for tens of kilometers, and this part of the ocean becomes “inland waters”, with a smooth surface and centuries-old trees hanging over it – deciduous and coniferous. To the north of Puerto Montt there are many mountain rivers, waterfalls, lakes – Llanquihue, Todos los Santos, Puehue, Ranco, Villarrica, Colico, Caburgua and others.
As you move south, the area becomes more and more wild, virgin – rocks, primeval mountains. Delightful, almost otherworldly rocky landscapes – black cones of extinct volcanoes, green valleys, lilac glaciers, blue waters of lakes and fjords, and everything is full of many shades, halftones that you don’t even suspect in ordinary life. These places can only be reached by sea or across the border with Argentina.
The south of Chile can offer everything to those who like to travel – boat trips, rafting, educational excursions, exotic tours, and eco-tourism. It all depends on how much of your time you can give him.
Travel to the southern part of South America starts from Puerto Montt. From Santiago, you can get here by plane, train or car. Puerto Montt is called the gateway to the Lake District.
This city was founded in the middle of the 19th century by German colonists on the shore of a convenient bay. It is characterized by European architecture – houses with high tiled roofs and decorative balconies.
Landscapes around Puerto Montt are varied and very beautiful. Under the influence of tectonic processes and glaciers in this part of the Andes, many lakes with the purest water were formed. Significant areas of this zone are covered with virgin deciduous and coniferous forests.
The highest mountains, fast rivers, volcanoes, blue lakes, waterfalls, many national parks with unique flora and fauna, ski resorts, thermal springs – all this is in abundance in the Lake District.
Puerto Montt is the transport center and the starting point to the island of Chiloe and Chilean Patagonia, the most ecologically clean place on our planet.
Further south from Puerto Montt to the Puerto Aisen area, you can travel by water in specially equipped boats and by car along the Carretera Austral (Antarctic Road). The road crosses the entire northern part of Patagonia and passes through the most picturesque places – past many rivers, lakes with the purest water, past the highest mountain peaks covered with snow even in summer, through the National Parks, sometimes running out to the Pacific coast, to the extraordinary beauty of fiords, hot springs.
Now a little about thermal springs, which are very numerous here, as in any area with increased volcanic activity. They are concentrated along the edge of large fiords. There is practically no access to them from the side of the mountains, so special boats go to resort places with thermal springs from Puerto Montt.
Patagonia is a territory with a rich geological past. During the ice age, the Andes and adjacent ranges were covered with huge glaciers, which carved huge, almost sheer gorges and valleys in granite. The glaciers retreated further south, the sea level rose. Many valleys filled with water and became fiords. The islands of the coastal archipelagos are the pointed peaks of underwater ridges.
The largest continental glaciers on our planet begin near the town of O’Higgins (they are second only to Antarctica and Greenland). In some places, glaciers have made their way to the sea and then you can directly observe the process of “iceberg formation”, when blocks of ice break off from the arms of the glacier and fall into the water.
For example, such a place is the amazingly beautiful San Rafael lagoon, into which ice blocks of the San Valentin Glacier slide from a great height. Its dimensions are amazing – the height is about 60 meters, the surface area is 1.7 million hectares. Age – more than 20 thousand years. The place is remembered for its extraordinary cold beauty: the radiant blue of the bay meets the velvet blue of the sky and dazzling white ice. It is the closest glacier to the equator that reaches sea level. A sort of “beach” for the Snow Queen. These places have been declared a National Park.
Fans of extreme tourism are attracted by the Torres del Paine National Park. Here are granite pillars, Torres and Cueros Payne, over 3000 meters high and over 11 million years old, glaciers, lakes, clean rivers, waterfalls. All this territory in 1978 was declared by UNESCO as a world reservoir of the biosphere.
There are many unique animals living in the natural conditions of the pampas – guanacos, nandu, flamingos, cougars, foxes, condors, etc. The special microclimate allows visiting the park all year round. Travel companies in many countries organize excursions to these places for climbers of varying degrees of difficulty, hang gliders, etc., horseback riding through the majestic mountains. There are tourist routes from the city of Puerto Natales to this area. Here is the famous cave of Milodon, known to the world thanks to the discovery of the bones of a prehistoric bear in it.
Punta Arenas is the capital of the southernmost region of Chile, which includes the mainland of South America, part of the island of Tierra del Fuego (the other part belongs to Argentina), and some coastal islands. In addition, Chile lays claim to a significant part of Antarctica, which includes O’Higgins Land (on Russian maps it is called the Antarctic Peninsula).
Punta Arenas is located on the shores of the Strait of Magellan. The average annual temperature in Punta Arenas is +7 o C. This region of Chile is characterized by low rainfall and strong winds. Two Chilean airlines fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas. This city is the starting point for travel to Tierra del Fuego and Antarctica. Prior to the construction of the Panama Canal in 1914, shipping was very intensive here, since the connection between the two great oceans was carried out through the safest Strait of Magellan.
Not far from Punta Arenas is located and operates almost all year round the world’s only ski resort on the ocean. It also offers an unforgettable view of the Strait of Magellan.
From Punta Arenas, many motor boats go on excursions: to the Land of Smokes (otherwise – Tierra del Fuego), to Antarctica, cruise routes Chile-Argentina-Chile, etc.
“Gateway to Antarctica” is what the Chileans call the island of Tierra del Fuego. A long frosty winter with strong winds and snowfalls gives way to a cool summer. Therefore, it is best to go to these parts in March-December (summer comes in the southern hemisphere).