Fuerte Bulnes excursion

Punta Arenas Travel Blog

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The Patagonian flag flying over Fort Bulnes.

We went on an organised tour today, because getting out to the old settlement of Fort Bulnes is quite difficult on your own.  The tour cost CLP10,000 and was through a company called Laguna Azul - this was one of the cheapest prices for such tours, and they operated the tour with just the two of us.  Being the off season, most companies wanted a minimum of 3, which obviously we couldn´t do.

Our guide an driver picked us up at 10am and we headed south to the settlement.  We saw loads of dolphins frolicking in the water near the shore as we drove along the coast, the sea was surprisingly calm, almost glasslike.  When the road finished, we were told that we´d gone as far south as roads could take us in mainland Chile!  Fort Bulnes itself is actually a reconstruction of the buildings on the original site, but it´s been done quite well so gives you a good idea of what it was like during the mid-1800s in this bleak place.

Young monkey puzzle trees at Fort Bulnes.
  Only about 60 people lived here and eked out a living in the whaling industry.  At least they did survive, unlike those down the road at Puerto del Hambre - literally translated as Port of Hunger - who all died quickly from hunger and disease.  Nowadays, the fort is home to a herd of cattle and you have to tread very carefully to avoid stepping in their manure, which is quite prolific!  We walked right down to the edge of the cliff at the southernmost point of the complex and realised that this is the furthest south we are ever likely to be in our lives.  Looking at the map, we are closer to the Antarctic than we are to Tasmania in latitude.

On the way back, we stopped at a small fishing village in a sheltered bay and watched the men bringing in the day´s catch of sea urchins.

Cannons at Fort Bulnes (these are apparently decoration only, and were not here in the original settlement).
  The boss cracked a few open to show us the insides, which looked pretty revolting.  He even tasted a few to make sure they were OK - we were dreading that he might offer us one, but luckily he didn´t.  The sea urchins go primarily to Japan and the US, apparently.

Once we got back to Punta Arenas, we had lunch in a local restaurant where Melissa tried the Chilean specialty of conger eel.  It really doesn´t have much flavour, and it came fried in buckets of oil, also quite chewy, a bit like calamari.  Probably won´t have it again, unlike the salmon, which is delicious!  Also enjoyed a litre between us of the local Austral beer, which was very nice.  The rest of the day was spent internetting and enjoying our luxury hotel room - seeing as this really blew the accommodation budget, we´re enjoying it while we can before we get back into hostels!

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The Patagonian flag flying over Fo…
The Patagonian flag flying over F…
Young monkey puzzle trees at Fort …
Young monkey puzzle trees at Fort…
Cannons at Fort Bulnes (these are …
Cannons at Fort Bulnes (these are…
Noel & Melissa as far south as the…
Noel & Melissa as far south as th…
View of landscape around Fort Buln…
View of landscape around Fort Bul…
Fishing harbour near Punta del Ham…
Fishing harbour near Punta del Ha…
The morning´s sea urchin catch, n…
The morning´s sea urchin catch, …
View of Punta Arenas from the look…
View of Punta Arenas from the loo…
Noel enjoying his litre of beer fo…
Noel enjoying his litre of beer f…
Punta Arenas
photo by: Kramerdude