Punta Arenas has some cool things to see, but it is not a destination in itself. There was a shipwreck just sound of town that was a fun walk. There was some cool graffiti along the way. We had a great Airbnb host there that we spent 8 days with over the course of the month - Beatrice and Jose. They had a museum with some replica wooden ships including the Beagle (Darwin’s ship). It is amazing anyone would sail something like that on an ocean. It has the usual central square in town. It has the large airport to get into Southern Chile.
Puerto Natales is the gateway to Torres del Paine. It too is not a destination but a waypoint to see Patagonias treasures. Although I stayed there for four nights, we used it for access to Torres del Paine. I would stay in the park if I was going to go again. It is $200 a night to do that, but the time savings and possible rental car savings would be worth it. Keep in mind you can lose entire days due to weather. A 50 mph wind is no fun to hike in. It can last an hour or several days. it does not happen all the time. We had some wind and rain on our hike and it was still amazing. Rain gear did help immensely.
We spend two day over on Tierra del Fuego in Porvenir. We wanted to see the King Penguins. This was okay but not worth the two days we spent. The penguins were large and colorful but there were at least 50 yards away. Porvenir is a small town with five restaurants. None were open the day we arrived. NONE. We had cracker and cheese from the grocery store. The other Penguin place was closed and the other couple we ran into said this was their second time there to try to get in. Don’t waste your time trying to see Penguins here. We did get to “cruise” across the Strait of Magellan on a ferry.
Puerto Williams was the other stop. It is the Southern most town in the world. It is remote. Plan ahead! We ended up in the $280 a night very nice hotel, as the only remaining option for a place to stay. The flight there was a nine seater plane - that include the two pilots. That was cool. The return flight was a 90 seat plane. The views on both were exceptional of Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia. I would have preferred the ferry but they run on a “schedule”. We waited too long to plan for it. The town itself had some cool boats in “dry dock”. We walked around town for a couple hours. We found a local restaurant with crab empanadas. They were great. The hotel was really nice but it was the most expensive place we stayed in 10 months of travel so far.
I would plan on one of the ferry trips or an expensive cruise option to travel through Patagonia. We did do three boat trips to see glaciers and they were amazing. A ferry trip or a cruise would see more of the islands, waterways, wildlife along the way.
My photo and blog site for my 2016 travels and beyond
P.S. If you go to the destination page and click the link to locations, I share additional pictures from each trip