If you want to experience the end of the world – surrounded by the southernmost channels and fjords before Antarctic waters, backpacking or trail running the remote trails, or simply escaping the craziness of everyday life – Puerto Williams is your next destination.
Put your finger on a map and move it to the south of South America. Stop! Right there before Cape Horn. There is an island called “Navarino”. On the southern side of the Beagle Channel, you can find the Chilean town of Puerto Williams.
Isla Navarino was the home of the native people “Yagán” or “Yamana”. They were hunters and nomads who sailed in small canoes over channels and fjords. During the 50’s the Chilean government established the town of Puerto Williams with a population of the Chilean Navy and their families. Now Puerto Williams has a population of around 2874 habitants.
How to Arrive
You only have two options: by air or by the sea.
If you have time I definitely suggest the trip by sea. From Punta Arenas sail in a small ferry through the channels around Tierra del Fuego, passing various glaciers. After 30 hours you arrive in Puerto Williams.
If you don’t have time you can take an airplane from Punta Arenas. On a clear day, you have great views of the surrounding mountains, channels, and glaciers during the flight. The flight time is around 40 minutes, but it is weather dependent and can sometimes take an hour and a half. You can walk to the town from the airport (5K) or you can take a shuttle (2000 CLP).
The City of Puerto Williams
In Puerto Williams, you can find everything on a small scale, but without many options. Local business is open from 10 AM to noon and then from 4 PM to around 7 PM. The majority of these places accept USD and credit cards. Bring your reusable shopping bag, plastic bags are banned.
You can walk around the town in less than a half day. But if you want to explore more you can rent a bike or a car.
The internet is not the best but you can go to the Martin Gusinde Museum, where you can find free internet. Although I suggest you get a data plan for your cell phone ahead of time in the city of Punta Arenas.
Definitely, visit the Tourist Information booth downtown to find maps and more information about local activities.
- Dientes de Navarino Circuit: Backpacking or trail running. ~50 km loop. A MUST. More information in our previous post.
- Lago Windhond Circuit: Trek to the beautiful Lake Windhond. (You can also combine this with the Dientes de Navarino circuit).
- Bike ride to Puerto Eugenia: 48 km round trip ride to the end of the eastward road of Isla Navarino, half day. Riding along the Beagle Channel. More information in our preview post.
- Bike ride to Puerto Navarino: 108 km round trip ride to the end of the westward road of Isla Navarino, full day. The road passes Bahía Robalo, Bahía Virginia, Bahía Mejillones.
- Visit the southernmost village of the world, Puerto Toro: You can grab a spot (free!) in the Yaghan ferry every last weekend of the month. Visit Puerto Toro for a few hours and then come back to Puerto Williams in the same ferry. For the more adventurous, return backpacking to Puerto Williams. So far we don’t know if a real trail exists. But that's the adventure, right?
- Visit Parque Etnobotánico Omora: to learn more about the regional flora and fauna.
- In Navarino island you will be drinking the world’s purest water.
- The best time to visit is between December and March.
- You can buy camping gas in the hardware store or the tourism agency, Shila, which also rents camping equipment.
- There are many other outdoor activities on the island - enjoy while respecting nature! Remember you are in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve.