Jan 16, 2012

Chile - Santiago/Punta Arenas

Surrounded by Andean mountains, the cityscape of Santiago de Chile is amazingly flat except Santa Lucía Hill separating in broad outline the commercial and business part of the city from the cultural and entertainment part.

View of Santiago from Cerro San Cristobal

The capital of Chile is a really modern metropolis. We discovered it through an informative four hours tour leading us in various downtown areas. We love that kind of tours for the many anecdotic stories we learn about the city and some of its unusual inhabitants.

Our group

Calle Ahumada, a pedestrian street

Avenida Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins

The most significant site we visited in Santiago is the Museum of Memory and Human Rights. This brand new museum displays a complete History of the the military dictatorship and exposes the sufferings during the Pinochet years. The stories of survivors of torture – in films, drawings or letters – are poignant. And the museum gives a good overview of the contemporary History of Chile.

Museo de la memoria y derechos humanos

Moneda palace which was bombed during the military coup in 1973

In a lighter vein we tried the typical drink of Chile called Mote con huesillo, made with iced peach juice, peaches and wheat. We did not feel very comfortable drinking something we had to chew as well. But it was worth trying! ;)

Mote con huesillo

In the Chilean supermarket we were amazed by the mayonnaise packaging: one liter bags!! :/


Change of scenery: after a four hours flight we landed at the extreme south of the Latin American mainland. Located on the Strait of Magellan, Punta Arenas was a convict colony long before becoming a cosmopolitan town. It is now an ideal starting point to explore the Strait's shores and Patagonian wildlife in Chile. 

View of Punta Arenas from Cerro de la Cruz

On Plaza de Armas

We were fortunate to see three very different side of Chile in two weeks: the dry desert in the north, its temperate capital and beaches in the center, and then Patagonia at the extreme south. Quick changes of temperature and time of day light! 

Sunset over the Strait of Magellan at 10pm


What does chatting with a penguin look like?

From Punta Arenas we sailed two hours to Magdalena Island in the middle of the Straits. This island hosts the breeding and nesting of Magellan penguins. It is literally colonized by 69.000 breeding pairs plus their progeny. In total, at least 200.000 small black and white penguins. Walking among the cute penguin families is a wonderful experience!

On various occasions we had seen penguins but always in a zoo or an aquarium. To be able to see them without being separated by a thick glass and in their own environment is fantastic. We could interact with them and see they were also curious about us! One was indeed so jealous when Axelle posed for a picture with its mate that he came from behind and bite Axelle's ass... :)


  1. They sell mayonnaise in liter bags in Russia as well! It's great to read about your travels - looks like you are continuing to have a blast.
    -Vicky (couch-surfer who hosted you in Washington DC)

  2. Spasíba Vicky!
    Nice to hear from you! How are you doing? Have you already created your blog?
    Keep in touch!