advertisement

287km (178 miles) SE of Punta Arenas; 3,240km (2,013 miles) S of Santiago

Puerto Williams is the southernmost town in the world, though it functions primarily as a naval base with a population of less than 2,500 residents. The town occupies the northern shore of Isla Navarino in the Beagle Channel, an altogether enchanting location framed by towering granite needles called the "Teeth of Navarino." These peaks are being called the "next Torres del Paine." It's much more wild, remote, and "undiscovered" here than it is across the channel in Argentina's Ushuaia, and Puerto Williams has little tourism infrastructure. It's hard to get here, but it can be even harder to leave. Storms and wind often cancel any boat or air service.

Apart from a few hiking trails and a museum, there's not a lot to do here, but adventurers setting out for or returning from sailing and kayaking trips around Cape Horn use the town as a base. And really, there is a certain cachet to setting foot in this isolated village and knowing you're at the end of the world. The best way to visit Puerto Williams is via ship, ranging from a zodiac that whizzes across the Beagle Channel (in good weather only) to regular service cargo ships. The Yamana culture, who so perplexed the first Europeans with their ability to withstand the harsh environment with little clothing, is long gone, but visitors may still view the last vestiges of their settlements and a well-designed anthropological museum in town. Plans are in the works to expand the airport, start a ferry service from Ushuaia, and to finally bring Internet to the town. In the meantime, it's a sleepy place.