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Puerto Williams

Description

Right in front of the Beagle Channel, the Navarino Island is located, one of the biggest islands of the South Pacific. This is where Puerto Williams is placed, a small town of 2400 people, known as the most southern city in the world. Puerto Williams used to be called Puerto Luisa, and it's a relatevely new city, founded only in 1953. The Chilean Defense Ministry sentenced that year that "the most southern city in the world to be named Puerto Williams, in honor of Juan Williams (John Williams Wilson), Commander of the Ancud Ship, which took posession over the Magellan's Strip." Today, Puerto Williams has become the base of operations of those who want to travel to southern Chile. From here, and thanks to two small airports near the city, you can go to Cape Horn, the Antarctica, the Cape Horn National Park, Ushuaia in Argentina or any place in Tierra del Fuego.

It is a geologically abrupt place, characteristic which explains the lack of piers and ports, because there are no natural barriers to keep the strong winds away from them. On the island there is only one port, and it is located on the northeast border of Navarino, where grass fields and woods are kept to feed cattle. Actually, cattle farming is the most important activity of Puerto Williams and its surroundings, along with tree felling and artisanal fishing.

The most famous images of this area are photographs and paintings of the Yamanes, the people who lived here before the colonization, they painted their bodies of black and white to honour the gods during the initiation ceremony called "hain". They used to call the island "Uspashum", and were separated in three groups: yamanes or yaganes, onas or selknam and alacalufes or kaweskar. They were a nomad, hunting and canoeing group, who travelled along the Beagle Channel searching for supplies. They used anything it was at hand, even animals, creating canoes and refuges with sea wolves skin, and using their body fat to light fires and protect themselves from the low temperatures.

Their story is very interesting too. Story says that Captain Robert Fitz Roy, after he discovered the island in 1830, took a couple of yaman men to be instructed in England for two years. The young men went back to the island after that period of time, and soon they recovered all their previous habits. One of them, known as Jimmy Button, became the leader of a native group which opposed the first colonial settlers of the area, all Anglican missionaries. However, in 1880, the yamans began to coexist with the people who arrived to the Island from England, and they ended up learning about agriculture and other activities. One of those new arrivals was Thomas Bridges, who first went to Ushuaia. He defended the natives of Navarino Island with his son, Lucas, who wrote one of the most beautiful odes called "The last place of the Earth", which tells tells story about the crash between the two civilizations.

In Puerto Williams, in September of 1997, died the last pure native of yaman descent.

Attractions

To set foot on the last city of Chile and the last place of the world. Puerto Williams is a place of comfort, adventure and beauty, found in the small city and in the surroundings of the island it is located. It is right in front of the Beagle Channel, with a fantastic vision of the Argentinean territory. From here, you can travel to Cape Horn and to the Antarctica.

Activities

It's the most southern city in the world, and it invites you to visit it, take pictures and walk around the streets of wonderful simplicity. Enjoy the flora and fauna which lives between the old wooden houses.

Information

Location
Tierra del Fuego, in Isla Navarino.
How To Get There
You can begin in Punta Arenas, where daily flights leave for Puerto Williams, trip that takes about an hour. You can also take a trip by water, leaving in the Tres Puentes (Three Bridges) sector in Punta Arenas. The trip is made through the Beagle Channel, and it takes about 36 hours, depending on the weather conditions.
When To Go
All Year.
Climate
Tundra. Lots of wind and cold all year, temperature not higher than 7°C in summer.
Services
Accommodation, restaurant, hostal, hotel, transportation, airport, travel and tour agencies, museum, telephone, radio and Nautic Club.
Surroundings
Tierra del Fuego, Canal Beagle, Ushuaia, Bahía Nassau, Isla Picton, Isla Nueva, Islas Wellingston, Islas Hermite, Isla Hoste, Península Pasteur, Canal Murray.
Entrance Price
Free