Comprising the very southern stretch of Chilean Patagonia, the Magallanes Region is an area of outstanding natural beauty and contains some of the most fragile habitats in the world. Visit this dazzling landscape of evergreen rainforest, shimmering fjords and towering mountains on Chile vacation packages and discover some of the country’s most spectacular wildlife and natural landmarks.
Top Picks for Chile Vacation Packages:
- The crowning feature of Chile’s epic south, Torres del Paine National Park
- The enchanting, barely-accessible Alberto de Agostini National Park
- The ultimate in adventurous voyages, a cruise to Cape Horn
- Punta Arenas and its nearby Magellanic penguin colonies
Torres del Paine National Park
Requiring little introduction, the Torres del Paine National Park is the Magallanes Region’s masterpiece. The two main hiking trails, the “O” and the “W”, meander through forests blasted by the area’s infamous gusts of wind, while colossal glaciers flow from the Cordillera Paine – the small mountain range that slices through the park.
Vist during the summer or fall seasons for the most ideal trekking conditions and book a guided tour in advance as part of pre-arranged Chile vacation packages. Serviced campgrounds en route can also be organized online with Vertice Patagonia or Fantástico Sur.
Alberto de Agostini National Park
Only accessible by cruise ship, the Alberto de Agostini National Park receives few visitors – and feels even more isolated, wild and spellbinding as a result. Stretching over 5,637-sq. miles (14,600-sq. km), it includes the Darwin Mountain chain, a significant section of the Chilean fjords and channels and a rare ecosystem comprising subpolar Magellanic forest.
Recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 2005, this vulnerable national park is an important habitat for endangered animal species such as the southern river otter and the southern pudú. Planning Chile vacation packages here are only possible by organizing an expedition cruise with industry leaders, Australis.
Hornos Island and Cape Horn
Once considered the “ends of the earth” and almost certain death for the tens of thousands of sailors who attempted to sail here, the voyage to Hornos Island and the revered Cape Horn is no longer a death-defying feat. Instead, adventure cruise ships achieve what is now considered the ultimate sailing achievement – “rounding the horn”.
Passengers land upon this bleak but historic slab of basalt to overlook the equally historic – and markedly more turbulent – Drake Passage – an incomparable part of a vacation package in Chile. The lighthouse, staffed by a member of the Chilean navy and his family, and a small chapel are the only buildings on the island, while the Cape Horn Monument, with its location on a cliff above the violent seas, is a fitting memorial to the many men who lost their lives to these oceans.
Punta Arenas and the nearby Magellanic penguin colonies
With at least 10 colonies of Magellanic penguins and an estimated 200,000 breeding pairs, Magallanes is one of the top global destinations for encountering these animals in their native habitat. The harbor city of Punta Arenas provides the boarding point for cruise ships sailing to islands in the Strait of Magellan where the penguins breed. Tucker Islets and Magdalena Island are the most accessible colonies; Zodiac boats can approach the shore and even dock at the latter colony, where a path passes through the burrows and nesting penguins.
Bursting with historic sights, Punta Arenas deserves a few hours of exploring during your vacation in Chile. Notable sights include the Magallanes Regional Museum and Nao Victoria Maritime Museum, the latter with its full-sized reproduction of the HMS Beagle – Darwin’s legendary vessel for his five-year voyage around the world in the 1830s.