Punta Arenas City Tour Excursion Reviews
We were supposed to head to the Otway Sound Penguin Colony, but by the beginning of March, all the penguins had left. We were offered a city tour instead and trust me, you do not want to take a city tour of Punta Arenas. There is nothing special to see, nor anything to do. Better off sleeping.
This was a tender port for our ship and the AM 10-minute journey was smooth sailing while the afternoon return tender trip started with a 55-minute wait in line due to strong winds & high seas which made docking & loading the tenders difficult and time consuming followed by a boat ride to the ship that could not be outdone by Disney World with seas splashing high over the bow. Our guide told us that this is common and the wind can blow much stronger on a regular basis.
The city of Punta Arenas is attractive and well maintained with a typical town square surrounded by historic buildings that originally were residences and are now museums and commercial businesses. You don’t have an appreciation of good roads until your travels take you to places in South America where they are poor so it was surprising that the roads in Punta Arenas were among the best we have traveled in South America.
There is not a lot to see in Punta Arenas but learning about the history of the square and the families who built the surrounding buildings is interesting. Punta Arenas also has a city cemetery filled with personal family mausoleums with expertly manicured grounds which is well worth a visit and rivals the Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires where Evita Parone is buried.
• On the Road Patagonia!- Micah(co-owner) as tour guide This is a new small private tour company that has created a fun tour combining a small group city tour with visits to small local food & beverage establishments. Even though They call the tour Gastronomic City Tour. Before the tour we were uncertain if Micha was male or female and did not know the nationality nor English language quality. Much to our delight Micha is a young American woman from Seattle who married a Chilean man who is a native of Punta Arenas. Micha is incredibly knowledgeable of the area and its history presenting the information in a concise easily understood manner. We had an informative walk around the square where she shared interesting nuggets of information followed by a visit to Kiosko Roca which is the #1 place to eat the famous choriqueso and leche con platano one of the most popular dishes in Punta Arenas. We then went to the cemetery which is every bit as beautiful & interesting as Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires. We then stopped at a local shop who specializes in making/selling calafate based sweet products and artisan chocolates where we enjoyed a complementary tasting. The calafate berry only grows in the Punta Arenas area in the wild and is similar to a blueberry and has 10X the antioxidants as the blueberry so they are attempting to figure out how to create an large scale production agricultural version which would be easier to grow and harvest. We stopped at several excellent picturesque view sites as we toured. Our final stop was a beer tasting at a micro brewery that was started by a husband & wife team in their garage. They now make three beer varieties in a very modern brewery with all the proper equipment to consistently duplicate their recipes and have been in business for 2-years. The wife gave us a tour of their operation focusing on their step-by-step brewing process which was interesting and concluded with a tasting and discussion of each of their three brews. This was an outstanding tour and the only one like it in Punta Arenas. We highly recommend this tour and if English is your primary language be sure to ask for Micha to be your guide.
The City Drive Tour was OK - not much to see, and the guide was hard to understand. The Mansion is under rennovation, and the simultaneous arrival of two busloads of tourists and a group of soldiers was overwhelming. Guide did not provide much detail inside the mansion, and few of the displays had English translations. The stop at the Magellan monument/City Plaza was too long -- small numbers of vendors selling mostly the same stuff.