If the word ‘history’ makes your eyelids droop, then think again…A new historic walking circuit in Punta Arenas, Chile brings to life the stories of Antarctic explorers and the role of Punta Arenas as Gateway to Antarctica.
Historic Antarctic Circuit
The historic circuit includes 26 sites in the center of Punta Arenas, within easy walking distance of hotels. The commemorative plaques read like a who’s who of Antarctic exploration, featuring the exploits of such greats as de Gerlache, Amundsen, Scott, Charcot, Shackleton and Byrd. Plan on half a day to see some highlights, or a full day to do all of them.
The guide was updated in 2013 to include 24 additional sites north of the city and along the Straits of Magellan, including museums and natural reserves. These locations offer intriguing insights into the geology, and the natural and human history of the region. Excursion times range from several hours, to a full day or more.
The historic circuit was developed by the Chilean Antarctic Institute (Inach) to encourage visitors to:
- Discover the polar heritage and identity of Punta Arenas in its public places, buildings, and monuments.
- Visit the museums and libraries that hold the treasures of Chile’s historical links to Antarctica and its connections with the latest epics of Western exploration.
- Explore the Magellanic coasts and protected natural areas, and observe the scientific evidence that reveals the prehistoric geographical connection between South America and the Last Continent.
- Spend some time living within the spirit of polar adventure that is so much a part of the region of Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica.
The project aims to strengthen the Antarctic identity of Chile’s southernmost region and, in particular, the fundamental role of Punta Arenas as a strategic gateway to the white continent.
For Shackleton Fans
“Everything that could swim in the way of a boat was out to meet us.”
Sir Ernest Shackleton. On arriving in Punta Arenas from Elephant Island by the Chilean naval vessel Yelcho.
Shackleton fans will want to include a visit to the Museo Naval y Marítimo (Pedro Montt 981) for an in-depth account of the Chilean mission that rescued Sir Ernest Shackleton’s crew from Elephant Island, Antarctica. Or perhaps even take a jaunt out to Rio Seco, about 5 miles (8km) north of the city, to see the historic jetty where Shackleton eventually landed, after his epic boat journey to South Georgia.