Today we reach the tip (the end or start, depending on your perspective) of the world- the southern end of Patagonia!
Located on the Brunswick Peninsula north of the Strait of Magellan, Punta Arenas was originally established by the Chilean government in 1848 as a tiny penal colony to assert sovereignty over the Strait. During the remainder of the 1800s, Punta Arenas grew in size and importance due to the increasing maritime traffic and trade traveling to the west coasts of South and North America. This period of growth also resulted from the waves of European immigrants, mainly from Croatia and Russia attracted to the gold rush and sheep farming boom in the 1880s and early 1900s. The largest sheep company, controlling 10,000 square kilometres in Chile and Argentina, was based in Punta Arenas, and its owners lived there.
Upon arrival in the quaint town of Punta Arenas, we make our way through the colorful streets and around the central square. A band is playing and, though the trees growing sideways due to the severe Patagonian winds would suggest otherwise, the air was still and the southern-hemisphere, autumn sun is shining.
What better way to celebrate our arrival to the southern-most city in Chile than to toast with some local beers!? We find out that the 120 year-old Austral brewery opens its doors to the public Spring-Fall from 3PM-5PM during the week for tours and tastings ($5,000 CLP per person, roughly $8 USD per person). We walk over from our hotel, the famed Cabo de Hornos, to the brewery.
Starting in 1892, Austral has long been the beer of choice by the locals. We quickly find that this is the main, if not the only, beer that all bars and small establishments sell. The brewery tour is quick but well run and culminates in a wonderful tasting of Austral’s most famous recipes: Austral Larger (most common and the original recipe), Austral Imperial (same recipe but purer and stronger), Austral El Calafate (combined with the local El Calafate fruit), Austral Patagonia “Pale Ale” (has a crisp but sweet caramel flavor after taste to it) and the Austral Yagan Dark Ale (my personal favorite- it has a nutty, caramel, Dunkel style to it).
We continue walking after our tour, to the Punta Arenas city lookout point. Here we can see the city limits, the straights of Magellan and the far-off shores of Tierra del Fuego where our next adventure will begin!
The next four days and three nights we will spend aboard the unique, small adventure cruise ship: Stella Australis, exploring the coastline, glaciers and peaks of Tierra del Fuego and the remote Alberto de Agostini National Park!
Want to add Patagonia to your next adventure? Check out some of these itinerary options:
- 5-Day Cape Horn Voyage
- 5-Day Patagonia: Torres del Paine Patagonia Camp
- 7-Day Patagonia: Torres del Paine W Trek with EcoCamp
Your friendly South America Expert,