- Los Pingüinos Natural Monument
and Magdalena islands, with a population of 50 thousand couples
of the Magellanic species. In order to get to these sites, tourists
have to cross the well-known Straits of Magellan, since the penguins
are found beyond 35 kilometers (25 maritime miles) north of Punta
- Villa Tehuelches is the capital city of the Laguna
Blanca area. Most of its 400 inhabitants devote their efforts to
cattle raising. Located 100 kilometers away from Punta Arenas (by
land), this town offers various attractions, such as the ecumenical
church, the library-museum and the "municipal crescent". In addition,
nine kilometers to the south, tourists can stop by the Las Nieves
district, a remarkable site to practise sport- fishing in the waters
of Penitente river.
Going southward, at Km 113, there is an area
called Laguna Blanca, which, in the past, was a cattle farm. Nearby,
travelers can visit the Cueva de la Leona Canyon, a Historical Natural
Monument featuring 1600 year-old cave paintings by the Aonikenk
ethnic group. If you wish to delight yourself with other pictorial
representations, you may go to the Morro Chico Historical Monument,
located 145 kilometers south of Punta Arenas.
During the spring
and summer seasons, the community of Laguna Blanca organizes the
Shearing Festival, which consists of the presentation of shepherd
dogs in action, breaking-in of horses and the traditional Chilean
- Rio Verde is the capital of the area bearing
the same name, and is located on the shores of Skyring inlet. This
is a cattle farming region located 87 kilometers northeast of Punta
Arenas. Fitz Roy Channel, Otway inlet and Rio Verde are among the
most prominent attractions in the area. Rodeo competitions are held
throughout the year.
- Carlos III Island, The show of the humpback whales Carlos III Island, an unknown spot in the Strait of Magellan until recently, becomes a privileged observation place to watch the colossal humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) during the summer, giant acrobats coming from the Colombian coasts that cleave the ocean on their extremely lengthy pilgrimage to the Antarctic world.
The humpback whales are the most acrobatic ones amongst the 60 species of cetaceous existing on the planet, including dolphins. Their jumps and pirouettes are the central act on the wonderful natural spectacle they perform in the cold waters surrounding the Island, one of the places of choice for these bulky mammals due to the abundance of small fishes and crustaceous, their favourite food.
Although they are not the only stars at Carlos III, a place of unbelievable beauty and cold currents where the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans meet. It is possible to watch other species of marine fauna from the Island, such as the killer whales (Orcinus orca), the minke (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) and sei (Balaenoptera borealis) whales, colonies of sea wolfs (Otaria flavescens) and sea elephants (Mirounga leonina).
The fauna richness stretches to the birds and seabirds, with captivating species such as the Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus), the Chilean skua (Catharacta chilensis), the grey seagull (Larus scoresbii), the cormorants (Phalacrocorax sp.) and the albatrosses (Diomedea sp.), amongst other flying wonders.
But that is not all either; the zone also stands out for its variety of fishes and marine invertebrates such as the Austral hakes, the trout, salmons, squids, spider crabs and sea urchins, just to cite a few of the life forms housed by the ocean's vastness.
The Island's natural potential also includes resistant vegetation conformed by species such as the Antarctic Beech trees (Nothofagus antárctica), the False Beech (Nothofagus dombeyi), and the cinnamon trees (Drimis winteri), besides the characteristic turf, as the green mantle formed by small plants such as ferns, mosses and decomposing flora residues that covers most of the land surface on Carlos III Island is known.
The amazing and notable biodiversity in the zone justified the creation of the Francisco Coloane Marine Park, the first marine area protected in Chile, on August the 5th of 2003. Carlos III Island and Rupert Isle, the Jerónimo and Barbara Canals, the Tortuous Pass and the Bays of Cordes and Fortescue, amongst other sectors, form the protected area.
With an extension of 67000 hectares, the Park has amongst its objectives the protection and conservation of the humpback whale, which usually arrives between October and March, extending the protection to its variegated ecosystem and the creatures dwelling in its large portions of sea, and on its shorelines, beaches and imposing glaciers, where temperatures are very low and the winds are very strong.
In order for the authorities of the Park to accomplish their aims and objectives, they restrict the number of visitors to the areas with the most concentration of whales, where only a serene observation of the animals is permitted. Such severity is relaxed in other sectors where it is allowed to practice trekking or to ride a kayak.
The only agency operating in the Marine Park is Whale Sound, an organisation created by a group of investigators and scholars of the zone. With their vast experience and knowledge they have created a campsite orientated to reduce as much as possible its environmental impact.
Carlos III Island is situated in the Strait of Magellan, in Chile's XII Region, at approximately 190 kilometres from Punta Arenas. The best season to visit the zone, one of the coldest in the country, is from December the 15th up to May the 15th. The trip by sea lasts 60 hours, so weigh anchor for the show of the humpback whales is about to start.