Monday, we take the private taxi to the airport for the domestic flight.
There is a fun luggage "tower" in the middle of the domestic area that looks unreal.
Due to the unknown reason, we wait for the flight for more than one hour and the announcement is only in Spanish.
That's fine. I know that the cheap flights sometimes delay.
However, when we're boarding, the staff says that my boarding pass is not for this flight.
What? How could it be? I'm sure that this company doesn't have another flight at this time.
Because Shan passed the boarding check, I doubt the staff. Of course, other tourists who passed also concern my situation.
The staff doesn't explain the reason but check my boarding pass again. Finally, I passed.
I'm sure that there is probably something secret behind the unknown standard to check the pass.
Otherwise, why the tickets bought at the same time are so differently treated on boarding?
Though I board the flight finally, I'm sure that I will not take the cheap flight anymore.
The staff, or this company Sky Airline, even doesn't apologize to me, or explain the reason at least.
I'm glad that I'm not travelling alone this time. If I could not take this flight, my schedule would be in a mess.
The flight to Punta Arenas includes a stop at Puerto Montt.
If you look through the window carefully, you may find an unknown vocano in Chile.
I think that it's really a long journey to arrive the south of South America.
How will it be if I have a chance to travel to Antarctica?
P.S The bus from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia takes about 11 hours.
When we arrive at the airport, it's raining a little. Shan is chatting with the Italian on the shuttle bus.
As they talk about the penguin tour, the Italian says that there is no empty seat for the penguin tour he tried to contact via e-mail.
This news makes us worry a lot. After all, if we could not join any penguin tour in Punta Arenas, it would be terrible.
However, most of the tour agents only provide the information and don't have any online booking system.
Therefore, it's truly a risk if you only arrange a few days here.
In other hand, I think maybe the tour is still available but the agent doesn't accept the booking via e-mail.
The main problem should be the payment.
In order to make soure of the penguin tours, we drop off at the office of Buses Fernández.
No one knows where could we book the tour, so the best way is to ask.
Thanks to the Italian who could speak a little Spanish, we carry our big luggages toward the tour agent office in such a raining day.
Actually, the tour agent is called Turismo Comapa and the office is near the Plaza de Armas. at the corner of Pedro Montt St. and Magallanes St.
Around here, we also find another tour agent "Laguna Azul" which provides King Penguin tour.
Thus, Shan handles the Magdalena tour with Turismo Comapa and I look for the Laguna Azul for the King Penguin tour. (The office is also nearby around the plaza)
By the way, the price for Magdelena tour is 28000 pesos and the tour is only available on Wednesday.
As for the King Penguin tour, the pirce is 55000 pesos.
I book the tour right away, no matter whether other tour agent could provide cheaper one.
Since I've joined expensive tours in Iceland and Greenland, I really think that the money is not a problem for me.
After all, the place for watching the wild king penguins is few in the world.
If you want to save the money, you could visit the Aquarium (in New Zealand or other country)
If fact, the price is not really expensive, because it's the full-day trip and includes the ticket fare, the ferry transportations and a guide.
We books the two tours luckily for the next two days in Punta Arenas.
There is no conflict between these tours and the tours are not full-booked yet.
I'm really proud of myself for the schedule I made.
After the bookings, we walk toward our hostel Blue House that is not far from the plaza.
This hostel is recommended by other tourists and the price is quite cheap.
The location is also ideal. It's not from far from the plaza and the supermarket is also near.
Though there is a strange smell inside the rooms, the room with a window is still fine for me.
Shan thinks that is the smell of the cat's pee....Who Knows? I'm not familiar with that.
Resting for a while, we go toward the Plaza del Armas again for the remaining things on our list.
As for the Plaza de Armas, the name is different in the Lonely Planet guidebook.
It seems that the name "Plaza del Armas" is widely used in every city or town in Chile referring to the most popular area of that city or town.
It's true that the tour agents, banks, money exchange offices, hotels and restaurants are around the plaza in Punta Arenas.
Therefore, it's also better to choice your accommodation nearby the plaza.
We buy some postcard and Shan exchange for Chilean pesos.
Then we head for the Correo (means "Post Office") for our first delivery of the postcards.
The stamp (Sello in Spanish) for overseas is 600 pesos, and the postcard is 500 pesos in average.
It's said that the delivery might takes a long time, so I think my postcards might be delivered to Taiwan before the Chinese New Year.
By the way, the staffs are so nice to wait for us even the office should be closed at this time.
After the post office, the next stop is the Bus Pacheco office. The bus ticket are also an important part of our journey. If we could not get the tickets for our schedule, it would be a hard job to change the whole plan.
Evaluating the information of all the bus companies, I choose Bus Pacheco as my best solution.
Just as I expected, you could buy all the tickets of the same company in the ticket office of any city or town.
Therefore, I buy three tickets including the bus from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales, from Puerto Natales to El Calafate and from El Calafate to Puerto Natales.
Except for the shuttle service to and from Torres del Paine, most of the tickets I need are confirmed.
As for the place to get on the bus, it's just outside the ticket office. There is no bus ternimal in Punta Arenas.
Finishing all the things, our final destination is the nice restaurant La Marmita for a cosy dinner.
This restaurant is recommended in the guidebook and TripAdvisor and the house is quite special.
Though the price may be higher than cooking by yourself, the dishes are nice and so is the service.
We both choose a soup and a main dish. My soup is the Blue Garlic Soup.
The taste of the garlic is thick but confortable. It makes me feel warm.
As for Shan, her soup is the Caldillo de congrio.
According to the menu, this seafood soup is inspired by Pablo Neruda, a famous Chilean Poet.
Because Shan chooses the King Crab as her main dish, so I order a fish with stewed potatos and vegetables.
The stew is also a representative dish of Chile.
The vegetables which taste thick accompanying the light-seasoned fish is fine but may be a little salty for someone.
No doubt, the king crab is fresh and delicious. we're quite satisfied with this main dish.
Though it's almost ten o'clock in the night, the sky is still bright and the rain stopped.
It seems a nice day today.
Before we leave, the staff gives us special bookmark as the souvenirs.
Five o'clock in the morning, I wake up for my leisure breakfast because the tour company will pick us up at seven o'clock.
While I'm preparing the noodle soup, there is a cat watching in front of the kitchen.
Maybe this cat is the reason why there is a strange smell in the house.
Remember to close the doors and don't feed the cat.
(The image is from：http://www.pinguinorey.com)
Around seven, the shuttle comes. It's pretty fine that the members are not too much.
Sometimes, the quality is good as the number of the tourists is less than 20.
We head northward for a period of time in the early morning.
Though Tierra del Fuego is in the east of Punta Arenas, there is no highway or shortcut to go there.
However, the scenery is good as we're far away from the city.
You could find Nandus (Darwin's Rhea) or Guanacos on the grass, if you have big eyes.
Close to the noon, we arrive at the ferry termial which is one of the gateways to Tierra del Fuego.
Tierra del Fuego, means "Fireland" or "Land of Fire" in Spanish.
Someone may think that Tierra del Fuego is the territory of Argentina because most of the relatived tours depart from Ushuaia, but in fact, Chile owns the west part of this island where is the only place for watching King penguins.
Of course, you could have Visas of Chile and Argentina, and enjoy this nature wonder completely.
You might also wonder why King penguins live in Tierra del Fuego. King penguins should live in the cold area such as Antarctica.
However, according to the Wiki, King penguins would breed on subantarctic islands which include Tierra del Fuego.
It means that King penguins lived here before but disappeared for a long time because of hunting by human, and appear again in recent years.
Though the number in this new reserve is not many, it's a good news and we're also lucky to watch them so easily.
When we arrive at Terra del Fuego, we rest in the only shop and restaurant around here for a while.
The way to the reserve is quite far away. "Isla Grande" means it's a very big island, and no doubt it is.
After another long driving, we take a break in an unknown town.
A wall nearby the park is drawn with the masked men in only tow colors.
It's said that these people are the aboriginal people in this island.
Shan says that they look like aliens, but I don't have any interest on these aboriginal people after the tiring trip.
Even if the trip to the reserve is long, the nature and the animals are obviously richer.
I find many Guanacos along the way on the grass.
Nandu is also found easily but photographing on the car is not easy.
It's luckt that we meet an Guanaco in a very short distance and the car stops for a while so that we could take photos through the opened window.
Besides, we also find a group of Flamencos far away around the lake.
Finally, around one o'clock in the afternoon, we arrive the King penguin reserve.
Parque Pingüino Rey (http://www.pinguinorey.com/) is the new and only reserve of King penguins in Tierra del Fuego.
It seems that you could also drive by yourself but you have to avoid Monday and the days ferry doesn't operate.
After registering your personal data, the guide here will lead you to the location for observing the King penguins.
Because there are two groups of penguins, we're also devided into two groups.
I follow the first group to the location with only 13 King penguins.
In order not to scare these lovely penguins, we sit on the grass and keep silent.
The wind is cold, but the sun shines.
It's quite marvelous that I finally could watch the wild King penguins and take photos of them.
It's recommended to have a telescopic lens more than 200mm. 300mm to 400mm would be better for a detailed resolution.
You may think that I should be very close to the King penguins if you only watch the first photo above.
However, the real distance is more than 20 meters just as the second photo shown above.
Therefore, if you don't have a better camera, you shoule have telescopes for observing at least.
According to the information provieded by the reserve, King penguins are very sensitive to the presence of human. If we get too close or the number of the tourists are too many, it may affect the habitation of these King penguins.
I could not express how exciting and happy I am while I'm sitting on the grass and watching these lovely creatures in the wild.
I have watched King penguins in the aquarium in Auckland, but these penguins are enclosed and watched by tourists through the glasses.
No matter how ideal these man-made prisons are, the real nature environment is always better.
The Zoo or the auqrium is only the presentation of selfishness of human.
Watching for a while, we change the location to another place with a large group of King penguins.
Though the penguin is the same, you never feel bored.
They might bend their neck or interact with each other by their mouths.
Most of the penguins are sitting just as they are watching something, and some are lying on the ground.
This is the fun to watching animals in the wild that you might not experience in the zoo.
About one hour later, in the consideration of not to disturb the penguins, we return to the car and I'm ready for another sleep after finishing my spagetti.
I'm quite satisfied with this trip.
As I wake up, we're already in the twon called Porvenir.
This town is the west of Tierra del Fuego and is the closest point to Punta Arenas.
Museo Fernando Cordero Rusque is the local museum in this town.
The collection is not much but they have some models and information about the aboriginal people with strange lookings.
According to our guide, the lookings of these aboriginal people are the simulations of the nature such as the shark or the tree.
The natural history museum in Santiago also introduce them but the information is only in Spanish.
The only thing I know is that these aboriginal people with different lookings have different names.
The natural history museum displays twelve lookings or spirits: Kayalls, Yoisik, Wakus, Talen, Pawus, Sanu, Tanu, Kataix, Matan, Kosmenk, Ulem and Kternen.
After I checked the information on the internet, these different lookings are the male initiation ceremonies called "Hain" of Selknam people and these lookings are the disguises of spirits.
The young males would be attacked by these "Spirits". They were taught to be affraid of these spirits since they were child and they would be threantened by these spirits if they do something wrong.
By the way, "Fireland" is also derived from observing Selk'nam smoke from their bonfires by European explorers.
Because the ferry departs at 7 o'clock, we still have some leisure time to have a meal after visiting the museum.
I order a Sachpapa just as other members do.
As I get the Sachipapa, it reminds me of the similar food I've eaten in Greenland.
Sachipapa is the food of chips and cut hot dgos with mustard. It's a little oily but tastes good.
Finally, our trip ends when we take a long ferry trip from Porvenir to Punta Arenas.
Though the ferry time is longer, the route is actually shorter.
Someone may wonder why we didn't take the ferry from Punta Arenas to Porvenir and then drive to the reserve. Our guide explains that the different routes could let us watch different scenes so that the trip would not be too boring.
Anyway, I think the King penguin tour is really nice.
The next morning, it's the day for another penguin tour to Magdalena island.
If you want to watch the little Magellanic penguins, there are two places in Punta Arenas: Magdalena island and Seno Otway Reserve.
Most of the tourists who have joined these tours recommended the Magdalena island, therefore we choose this tour.
Just as I told before, we bought the tour from Turismo Camapa. In fact, this tour is served by a ferry company, so you could also buy the ferry ticket directly at the ferry ternimal though the ternimal is about 2 ~ 3 km from the plaza.
No matter where you buy the ticket, you have to go to the ferry ternimal by yourself and the staff recommended us to take the bus.
In my impression, bus is a big-size long vehicle with a number and it would stop at specific locations where you would see the sign.
Actually, there are the bus-stop signs (Parada in Spanish) in Punta Arenas.
However, we don't see any "Bus" stopping at the parada which the staff told us.
Just until we ask the local, we know that this "Bus" is actually a "Taxi".
This kind of taxi runs a specific route. Of course, the car has a number. That's why they call it "Bus".
I prefer to call this kind of taxi "Shared Taxi".
Thus, if you want to go to the ferry ternimal, you could take Bus no.15 or no.20. The fare is 400 pesos.
Precisely speaking, you could get on the taxi anywhere on its route if the car is not full, and you could also grop off anywhere on its route as you wish.
The terminal "Tres Puentes" is the location we take ferry.
You may look at their schedule below. The ferry only provides tour to Magdalena island on Wednesday.
If you don't know this information and arrange a few days in Punta Arenas that don't include Wednesday, you will miss this cheap tour and have to pay more for another private tour.
So, remember to check the schedule of the ferry company：http://www.tabsa.cl/Html/Isla_Magdalena.php
Besides, there is also the schdule for the ferry from Porvenir, the ferry departing at seven o'clock in the afternoon is only available on Tuesday and Thursday. (Friday is an exception)
It means that the King penguin tour is also available on specific days if the tour company follow the same route.
I really think I'm quite lucky to arrange the correct days in Punta Arenas, or our trip here might be different.
The ferry takes about 1.5 hours to the island, and we could stay on the island for one hour.
When you see the light house, the island is near.
On the island, the tourists could also stay on the specific route from the shore to the light house.
If you don't want to visit the light house, it's fine and one hour is enough to take lots of photos of these lovely Magellanic penguins.
Just as you see, the penguins are a lot. It's said that there are 690,000 pairs of penguins on the island.
I'm not sure how they count the number, but the most important thing is you could watch them in a very short distance.
Though the tourists are retricted on the path, these penguins are free and they nest anywhere.
So, you could find some nests that are beside the human path.
Of course, you could not touch them or scare them.
According to the brochure, Magellanic penguins breed on this island in September.
The baby penguins are born around November, and the parents will breed them until the next Jan or Feb.
These penguins will leave the island to the open sea around April and return again in Sep.
For this reason, the island is opened for tourists between Oct and Mar, and so is the tour.
I walk quickly toward the light house and take photos of these penguins along the way.
It's quite interesting to watch penguins with different poses in different location.
I never see so many penguins in the wild. This is truly amazing.
The light house only displays some information about this island and its nature, but the tourists like to take photo with the building.
The wind is strong with sand and small rocks. It's quite important to protect your camera, especially the lens.
Even in the same location, you might see different scene that others don't.
You may find only a penguin walking toward somewhere, or see the interaction of parent penguin and baby penguins. Some penguins are ready for swimming, and some are resting in their nests.
If you're lucky (or unlucky), you might be attacked by the angry penguin.
It's true that a tourist is bit by a penguin on the human path.
No one knows the reason but it's interesting for sure.
Shan gets a great photo of this scene while others are escaping from this angry penguin.
With such great fun, the time passed just like only a few moments.
Before the ferry leaves, I'm still taking photos on the deck.
I think all the tourists should be very satisfied with this trip, and so am I.
On our way returing to Punta Arenas, I watch my photos alone and Shan is talking to other tourists.
Though I'm not good at chatting with others, chatting with others is indeed a good way to get some nice information.
Thus, as we arrive at the ternimal, we take the bus to Mercado Minicipal which is introduced by the local on the ferry.
It's said the the King Crab dish is much cheaper here and this market is not mentioned in Lonely Planet.
The ground floor inside the building is the area of seafood shops.
The restaurants and souvenir shops are on the second floor, and so is the toilet.
We choose a restaurant "El Mercadito" which has King Crab dishes.
The cheapest dish is the Centolla Queso. it's only 1100 pesos.
Centolla is the Spanish for Crab. Of course, the Crab is King Crab in Punta Arenas.
As for Queso, it means cheese but is referred to a special triangular pie in Chile.
There are also other Quesos if you have a big stomach.
I also order another dish "Centolla Parmerrana" that is 7500 pesos.
This grilled Crab with cream source is quite hot and big in portion.
Both the King crab dishes are delicious and strongly recommended.
After the lunch, we walk toward the Plaza del Armas. It's also our last afternoon in Punta Arenas to look around the rest attractions.
If you look carefully, the feet of the statue in the middle is shining.
Shan says that this feet is considered as the lucky symbol if you kiss it. Because lots of people do it, this feet is shing.
Around the plaza, there are some vendors selling postcards, clothes and other handicrafts.
If you like the special attraction, you might not miss the Cementerio in Punta Arenas.
This cementerio is called El Cementerio Municipal de Punta Arenas.
You may wonder why the cementerio is an attraction, but it's very special indeed and also the biggest cementerio in Chile.
The trees here are cut with the interesting shape.
As for the graveyards, there are three types.
The first one shown above looks like a building that should belongs to the rich family.
Basically, the Chilean family share the same graveyard and the names of the dead were carved on the same gravestone.
The second one is the standard graveyard we might see in other country but it's also a family graveyard.
These graveyards are decorated with flowers. Some have pictures of the dead for the purose of the memorial.
The final one is the gravewall with grids.
The space is small with the samll gravestone, pictures and other tiny things.
So, you may understand why this cementerio is so special to be an attraction.
On our way returning to the hostel, we find a grocery store that sells nuts, dried fruits and teas.
Because we will have a long hiking in Torres del Paine for the next days, Shan buy some nuts and dried fruits here.
I could not tell you the precise location of this store, but you could ask the locals. Maybe they knows where the procery store "Pachamama" is.
If you are also interested in travelling in Punta Arenas, the map below might helps you to find the attractions and facilities, especially the location of Mercado Municipal.