A wind-whipped, fractured land of islands, glacial fjords and mountains, which drop away towards Antarctica. A hardy city, where the temperature hovers in single figures throughout much of the year, Punta Arenas nevertheless offers a warm welcome and refuge, ahead of - and following - epic adventures and expeditions south across the Drake Passage.
Captain Scott stopped here in 1904 – testing the postal service sending 400 letters of his successful return - and the city welcomed the rescued Ernest Shackleton and his Endurance crew to these shores in 1916. Punta Arenas is a remote place, but with custom-free status, and more than 120,000 people calling it home it's also surprisingly cosmopolitan. The commercial centre of Magallanes Punta Arenas is fueled by Chilean oil and gas - and establishing itself as a global centre for Antarctic research, with teams from various countries basing themselves here.
The town is built around the Plaza de Armas, its central square - be sure to kiss the toe of the Monumento del Indio Patagon statue, said to guarantee you good luck on your return.