Antarctica, the last frontier

Snow-packed territory where fauna, scientists and adventurers coexist in the freezing climate of the southernmost part of the world.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009  
Antartica Antartica Foto:Turismo Chile

The Chilean Antarctic territory extends over1,250,000 square kilometers. Its size is much greater than the continental Chilean territory, making this snow-bound area one of the greatest assets of the country, both because of its natural richness and its notable natural resources.

It can be visited in cruise ships (Antarctic Dream) or scientific vessels, as well as by air from Punta Arenas. Both options are equally attractive. Naturally, the ocean trip is much longer; the flight covers the 1,250 kilometers in three hours, landing at the Teniente March base in Tierra de O’Higgins (O’Higgins’ Land) where most of the international scientific bases are stationed.

Because of the geographic and climatic difficulties of the frozen continent, trips are only one or two days long. Walks can be taken to observe the Antarctic fauna, sea lions mostly in the morning and Papua penguins in the afternoon on Ardley island. On a lucky day it is possible to sight elephant seals, orcas or whales. Helicopter flights over different Antarctic areas and snowmobile excursions are also available.

The Air Force base at Villa Las Estrellas, the only settlement in the area, owns a hostel that can accommodate 80 persons. It offers lodging to national or foreign visitors and scientists, by previous arrangement. A 100-meter long  tow lift allows skiing activities to take place near the base. There is also a school, a hospital, a bank branch office, a post office and a shop that sells souvenirs, as well as a small chapel near the village.

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