Too many days in Punta Arenas?

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Sep 23rd, 2018, 10:57 AM
  #1
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Too many days in Punta Arenas?

I fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas in mid Nov. I arrive in PA 5 days before my TDP full circuit trek.

When I booked my airfare I thought I would fill my days in Punta Arenas with day trips. Now after reading this and other forum, I think I messed up.

I should have flown into Argentina and given myself time to see El Chalten and El Calafate.

I really would like to stay in the Patagonia region. I donít have any desire to change my flight out of Santiago to the next day. I want cold, ice, extreme.

Does anyone have any recommendations for my itinerary? Can I fill my 5 days up in PA?
Thank you!
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Sep 24th, 2018, 09:36 AM
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crickets...
Update:
I found that I can change my flight from Santiago to Puerto Montt...OR I can reverse my flight and fly out of PA to Santiago after TdP.
Flights to Ushuaia, Argentina are incredibly expensive.
Again, I’d greatly appreciate anyone’s input as how to fill up 5 days in Punta Arenas.
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Oct 5th, 2018, 04:19 PM
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Hi pearl78-
I definitely think you could fill up 5 days in Punta Arenas before you head up to TdP. Allow 1 day to go to the Isla Magdelenas to see the penguins. You could easily spend another day going to Cape Horn. Allow at least 1 day for wandering around Punta Arenas city centre-it's a quirky town at the bottom of the world. The square is quite charming with craft stalls (and you can touch Magellan's foot on the statue!), the cemetery should not be missed as it's quite impressive, and there are loads of great places to eat and drink. I work on research vessels that operate out of Punta Arenas so I've spent loads of time there over the past few years during port calls. If you wanted to you could always head up to Puerto Natales early before your TdP trek but I wouldn't stress about filling 5 full days in Punta Arenas--there's things to do! Food recommendations: cannot recommend La Marmita enough (try the basil sours--everything on the menu is amazing) and don't miss a quick and cheap lunch at Kioska Roca which is a PA tradition---you'll be hard pressed to find any tourists in there but the massive crowds around lunchtime of locals will let you know you are in for a treat. I can give you more food and drink recs if you are interested. When are you going?
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Oct 6th, 2018, 04:48 AM
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SicilianSailor: I will be there in February before a W trek and have been watching this thread. Thank you for the recommendations. Any thoughts on accommodations? I found the Hotel Jose Nogueira on Tripadvisor, its a converted mansion and looks pretty cool.
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Oct 7th, 2018, 10:59 AM
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SicilianSailor: I will be there in February before a W trek and have been watching this thread.
And I'll be there in January before a trek, so I too thank you for your suggestions!

(P.S. Cool job you have!)
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Oct 7th, 2018, 03:54 PM
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Jose Noguiera is decent. I've stayed in a lot of different hotels in PA over the years and I kind of have mixed feelings about Jose. It is definitely in a cool building and a great location but the rooms are incredibly variable and the breakfast is kind of sad (for example, the last time I stayed there my co-worker was in a normal, decent room with windows and mine was the size of a postage stamp, no window, tiny old twin bed, and a bathroom that felt like it was from the 70s---and my company paid the exact same rate for each of ours). I really love Hotel Cabo de Hornos--it's right on the square (pretty much a stone's throw from Jose---both are in perfect location for PA) and it is consistently really nice, clean, great breakfast, etc. I stay there several times a year and would book there if my family came to visit. I like Cabo de Hornos because it retains the Chilean charm while still having really comfortable beds and great location. Dreams is probably the nicest most upscale hotel in PA-I stay there quite a bit as well and the rooms are massive and the seaviews if you get an even numbered room are fantastic. It's the sort of hotel that could be anywhere so not ideal if you want Chilean character, it's also attached to a casino (but not noisy at all). I head back to Punta Arenas next week and I'm staying in Diego de Almadra for the first time ever so I'll report back on how that compares (Diego is a bit further walk from town although is still seafront and has a swimming pool).

Regardless of where you stay, I highly recommend grabbing a drink at Shackleton Bar which is inside Jose Noguiera. It's a nice chilled out bar, some cool photos of expeditions. I also love the bar at Cabo de Hornos which has a great atmosphere and perfect for a pre-dinner drink (I wouldn't necessarily eat dinner here--maybe get an appetizer of pichanga but there are such a ridiculous amount of great places to eat in PA you won't have time to try them all). Weirdly at both of these bars if you are after wine definitely order by the glass instead of the bottle, the price per glass plus the volume they pour make it a much better deal. Sky Bar which is on the top floor of the Dreams hotel is a bit pricier but if you have an epic sunset it's a great location. I normally try to avoid hotel bars and restaurants but these 3 are pretty great and worth going to.

If you're there in January and February you may see one of the two big orange research vessels docked at Prat Pier (the main pier in town). Those are the boats I work on Let me know if you need other advice or thoughts on PA--it's kind of become a home away from home after all these years!
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Oct 8th, 2018, 04:03 AM
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SicilianSailor: I'm having a hard time booking a room for two nights in February. Everytime I go back to TripAdvisor/Booking.com the hotel is sold out! Dreams, Cabo De Hornos, and Jose Nogueira are all sold out! Your opinions are invaluable! Thoughts on Hotel Rey Don Felipe, Albatros, and Lacolet, or Mercurio? I'm getting stressed out because everytime I go to look the one I'm after is sold out! Later, maybe after your next trip, I'd also LOVE your restaurant recommendations!
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Oct 8th, 2018, 04:24 AM
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SicilianSailor: Update! I tried all of those hotels and none had availability for our dates for the necessary room type (twin). So I booked Hotel Isla Rey Jorge. Thoughts? I got free cancellation if we really messed up.
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Oct 8th, 2018, 07:55 AM
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See if the Rey Don Felipe has room. The Isla Rey Jorge is fine but a bit rundown and needs refurbishing.
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Oct 8th, 2018, 10:16 AM
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Its available, but more than 2.5X as much so we may have to stick with Isla Ray Jorge.

Now if only I could find someone with such good info on places on Easter Island! But thanks so much SicilianSailor!
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Oct 9th, 2018, 06:49 AM
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ScillianSailor I arrive mid November.
Iím still undecided as what to do. I have been informed my group tour of TdP will not be hiking on Grey Glacier. Therefore...I can either change my flight from Santiago to Balmaceda and attempt to drive on the Carretera Austral (I havenít driven a manual in years) and find a kayaking guide to the marble caves, then continue on to San Rafael Glacier. However, Iím not sure if trekking on San Rafael Glacier is allowed as itís so unstable.
Or, I can fly into PA, visit Cape Horn (can one rent kayaks?), the penguins and head up to PN early and trek Grey Glacier with a small group.
Thank you for your suggestions. Theyíre much appreciated!

Iím going to reread everything you suggested and check out the hotel and restaurants.
(I am realizing commenting in a thread is much more technically tricky than posting a post. I hope this reads ok, Iím finding it challenging to edit my reply.)
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Oct 9th, 2018, 06:50 AM
  #12
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ScillianSailor I arrive mid November.
Iím still undecided as what to do. I have been informed my group tour of TdP will not be hiking on Grey Glacier. Therefore...I can either change my flight from Santiago to Balmaceda and attempt to drive on the Carretera Austral (I havenít driven a manual in years) and find a kayaking guide to the marble caves, then continue on to San Rafael Glacier. However, Iím not sure if trekking on San Rafael Glacier is allowed as itís so unstable.
Or, I can fly into PA, visit Cape Horn (can one rent kayaks?), the penguins and head up to PN early and trek Grey Glacier with a small group.
Thank you for your suggestions. Theyíre much appreciated!

Iím going to reread everything you suggested and check out the hotel and restaurants.
(I am realizing commenting in a thread is much more technically tricky than posting a post. I hope this reads ok, Iím finding it challenging to edit my reply.)
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Oct 9th, 2018, 01:48 PM
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Hi CindyJ-it's been a few years since I stayed at Isla Rey Jorge--it probably could have used some refurbishment but I think you'll be fine staying there. Rey Don Felipe is definitely not worth 2x the price in my opinion. Hotels in PA book up so early during the peak season, my work often waits till the last minute to book our rooms which is why we end up at lots of different hotels since things are booked quickly. Isla Rey Jorge is in a great location and walkable to everything.

pearl78-definitely book soon if you will be there next month. I'll be staying at Diego next week since our other usual hotels were already booked up. I'm sorry I don't know anything about the San Rafeal Glacier but I think you can kayak around Cape Horn (weather is still pretty variable in November so not sure when that would start).

I'll put together a better list of restaurant recommendations before I leave next week--some truly incredible meals to be had in Punta Arenas. I'm always kind of amazed at how many great restaurants there are for a quirky city at the bottom of the world.
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Oct 9th, 2018, 03:25 PM
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Thanks again! Will be looking for your restaurant recommendations although we'll only be there 2 nights! Do you know if we need to reserve a boat to see the penguins in advance or if we can do that when we arrive?
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Oct 9th, 2018, 08:31 PM
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Hi Cindyj, I would probably recommend booking any boat trips in advance, it gets really busy in PA in February. I'm not sure how far ahead they book up but probably wouldn't hurt to book at least a few days before you get there.
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Oct 9th, 2018, 08:35 PM
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Some recommendations and thoughts on eating and drinking in PA. I got a bit long winded on some of them, hope the info helps, let me know if you have any questions!

Eating
La Marmita-I really can't recommend this place enough, I love everything on the menu here and eat here at least once a port call. It is also the most vegetarian/vegan friendly restaurant in Punta Arenas (I am not vegetarian but often order their vegetarian dishes because they are just that good--it's not just a sad plate of rice or side of vegetables like many other places). They do great lamb, seafood, all the usual stuff you see on Chilean menus except it's got a unique twist on it. The soups especially the garlic or carrot soup are fantastic. The pisco/berry/or basil sours are the best in Punta Arenas (basil is my favorite) and the desserts especially the chocolate pyramid are out of this world. I'm convinced if this restaurant was anywhere else besides PA it would be 3 or 4x the price but it's pretty reasonable. Soups/appetizers about $6, most mains between $10-20, pisco sours about $5 for reference.

El Fogon de Lalo-This steakhouse is definitely the place to go for meat. The steaks and lamb are fantastic, note you order the meat and that's it so you will need to order sides and such but the portions are huge. Last time I was there I think I ordered a 350g tenderloin and I swear it came out almost 1kg. Wood fired, really tasty. A bit pricier than elsewhere in PA but we're still talking $15-20ish for a steak and then about $5 for sides. Location on google is correct, I'd make a reservation, it is in a very nondescript building so turn on your gps. It's just past the market and entrance to the port.

Los Ganaderos-Also definitely the quintessential place for meat, especially lamb. Atmosphere is great because they always have lamb roasting on the fire. Similar to El Fogon, really a tossup between the two which I prefer. I'd go for lamb here and beef at El Fogon. This restaurant is located sort of diagonally from the Dreams hotel (kind of a landmark in Punta Arenas since it towers so high)

La Luna-Cozy, great Chilean food, good crab, meats, seafood, etc. It's smaller and on the restaurant row next to Mesita Grande, Fusion, Jerez, the Beagle etc. It's pretty much the same menu as the other quintessential Chilean restaurants but I like it. Similar pricing to most PA restaurants ($12-20 mains, bottles of wine about $15 on up)

La Yegua Loca-This is a newer find for me, I've only been there once but it was lovely. It's up near the overlook and is part of a hotel but the food was excellent and it was a more romantic type restaurant. Also the only place in PA that has an outside seating area (very rare the weather is ideal enough to sit outside). If you want to go here I'd book and request a table in the conservatory so you can overlook all of PA. Prices a bit higher.

La Cuisine-If you tire of chilean cuisine, this is a french restaurant on the restaurant row near La Luna, Mesita Grande, etc. Great food but if you have a limited time in PA I'd go to one of the above instead.

Mesita Grande-Pizza place, only mentioning because the pizza and pasta are really good but also they serve nonstop. Most PA restaurants don't open till around 8pm so if you land early and are starving this is a good place to get a quick bite at an awkward hour. They also do takeaway. Everything is cooked in wood oven and is fast, good option for a quick lunch if you want to sit down.

Kioska Roca-Previously mentioned on this thread, I adore this place. It's a little hole in the wall and has often been number 1 on tripadvisor and for good reason. They do one thing and they do it well. Rarely any tourists here. They only serve choripane (small little sandwiches that have a nonspicy chorizo sausage spread on them) You can get them choriqueso (with cheese) or with mayo but that is all they serve along with coffee and banana milk (which is SO much better than it sounds, I don't really like bananas or milk but I can't get enough of this). Sounds bizarre I know, it's cheap and cheerful, the little sandwiches are about 90 cents each, I usually eat at least 2, sometimes 4. They do takeaway and ordering will seem overwhelming at first when you walk in because it's total chaos. But if you want a real authentic PA experience this is it. 7am-7pm mon to fri, 7am-1pm sat, closed sun and holidays. The sandwiches travel great for the airport or camping.

Lomitos-Good option for lunch, always busy, they serve all day a variety of sandwiches and hot dogs. The sandwiches are very good and filling, if you like avocado order one of the ones with "palta" as you will be in avocado heaven. If you are not obsessed with mayo, order anything "sin mayonaise" because everything comes with an insane topping of it otherwise. You can also takeaway here. Service isn't so speedy so if in a rush to get somewhere go to Mesita or Kioska Roca. Also nearly identical menu to here and across from Colonial Bar (good for a beer) is Fuerte Hamburg which is equally as good and never as busy.

El Mercadito-Only for lunch, Lots of little restaurants in the upstairs area of the market, seafood and craft stalls on the ground floor. All very good and reasonably priced, a great place to have seafood at lunch, empanadas also very good. They close at some point late afternoon. Highly recommend "chupe" here or anywhere you see it on the menu if you like king crab, it's king crab with cheese and butter goodness, out of this world.

Coffee
Cafe Tapiz-Great coffee shop, they do some sandwiches and light bites too along with smoothies

Wake-up-Also a great coffee shop and I've heard the breakfasts here are very good (most hotels include a breakfast though). This is almost next door to The Clinic.

Drinking
Cabo de Hornos-Bar is fantastic, great atmosphere with slate and animal pelts and an ancient canoe, it's cozy and quiet and just delightful. If you want an appetizer to share the pichanga here is great and more than enough for 2-4 people (french fries, cuts of meat, avocado, olives, all sorts of stuff--kind of like the Chilean version of nachos? Tastes way better than I'm making it sound)

Shackleton Bar-Inside Jose Noguiera hotel, a great bar for a drink, as previously mentioned, order wine by glass instead of bottle as it's way better deal

La Perla-A fun place to have a drink, it's on a side street and you have to ring a doorbell to be let in, decorated in a maritime motif, if there are more than 5 of you or it's not busy you can sit in one of the row boat tables to drink. They often have live music, lots of drinks options. The food is expensive and not worth it in my opinion so I would only come here for a drink...

Taberna Club de la Union-Underneath the Jose Noguiera hotel (walk out hotel turn left and then go down stairs which are on street facing the Magellan statue), drinks are pricier here but the atmosphere is nice!

The Clinic-Another good place for a drink, lots of beer options
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Oct 10th, 2018, 02:54 AM
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Thank you! This post is going to get a lot of attention!
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Oct 10th, 2018, 11:45 AM
  #18
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Originally Posted by SicilianSailor View Post
Hi pearl78-
I definitely think you could fill up 5 days in Punta Arenas before you head up to TdP. Allow 1 day to go to the Isla Magdelenas to see the penguins. You could easily spend another day going to Cape Horn. Allow at least 1 day for wandering around Punta Arenas city centre-it's a quirky town at the bottom of the world. The square is quite charming with craft stalls (and you can touch Magellan's foot on the statue!), the cemetery should not be missed as it's quite impressive, and there are loads of great places to eat and drink. I work on research vessels that operate out of Punta Arenas so I've spent loads of time there over the past few years during port calls. If you wanted to you could always head up to Puerto Natales early before your TdP trek but I wouldn't stress about filling 5 full days in Punta Arenas--there's things to do! Food recommendations: cannot recommend La Marmita enough (try the basil sours--everything on the menu is amazing) and don't miss a quick and cheap lunch at Kioska Roca which is a PA tradition---you'll be hard pressed to find any tourists in there but the massive crowds around lunchtime of locals will let you know you are in for a treat. I can give you more food and drink recs if you are interested. When are you going?
Cape Horn and the area would fill more than a day...itíd likely fill 3 days, from the researching more thoroughly. Correct?
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Oct 10th, 2018, 11:58 PM
  #19
 
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Maybe he was thinking Tierra del Fuego?

There is a day trip from Natales down Last Hope Sound search Turismo 21 de Mayo.

You can also rent a car and drive along the Beagle Channel.

I stayed @ Casa Escondido near PA. They will take you into town as needed.
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Oct 25th, 2018, 06:36 PM
  #20
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Update: I changed my intenary

Iíll be flying into Balmaceda and staying in the Aysťn Region. I plan to do a kayak tour of the marble caves, drive on the Carretera Austral, and see San Rafael Glacier.
Iíll fly into PA and have about 36 hrs to check out the town before I meet up with my tour group in Puerto Natales.
Mlgb Iíll check out Casa Escondido.
Thanks!!
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