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3 Things To Do In Punta Arenas Before Your Antarctic Expedition Cruise

Whilst Ushuaia serves as the Argentinian departure point for many cruises to Antarctica, other itineraries set sail just over the border, in Chile. Although it loses out to its Argentinian neighbour for the honour of being the world’s southernmost settlement, the city of Punta Arenas offers a port and an airport for those heading off on a trip to the seventh continent.

But what is there to do before you climb aboard your ship or plane and fly over or sail across the Drake Passage? Here are a few things that will keep you busy until your adventure begins.

Amuse Yourself At The Nao Victoria Museum

Nao Victoria

This interactive museum offers a fascinating look into how the maritime history of this part of the world was established. The exhibitions are all part of the owner’s private collection but the public is free to explore and learn as they go. The Nao Victoria Museum takes its name from the ship which Ferdinand Magellan commanded when he discovered the Strait of Magellan, a ship which has been brought to life courtesy of an impressive full-size replica which is on display. Construction is also almost complete on a full-scale replica of HMS Beagle, the ship on which Charles Darwin started to formulate his theory of evolution.

Aside from the hand-built ships, which were crafted using traditional materials and techniques, there are expedition documents, navigation instruments and weapons on display that would have been used during the heyday of these vessels.

Watch Rheas Rear Their Young At Ñandu Park

Darwin's Rhea

If you are heading off on a polar cruise to Antarctica, the chances are you are a big admirer of wildlife. So before you go in search of the penguins, whales and orcas that could be waiting for you on your cruise, there’s a chance to meet some of Chile’s most endangered native species. The threatened ñandu, or Darwin’s rhea, from which this wildlife park takes its name, are cared for here from unhatched egg to parent incubating unhatched egg.

The conservation area is situated less than an hour outside of Punta Arenas and is a great way to catch a glimpse of Patagonian life. As well as the flightless birds, the park is home to around 10% of the world’s population of huemul deer.

Be Tempted By Tax Free Shopping

Punta Arenas

In the northern part of the city is an area designed to be a shopper’s paradise. The Zona Franca is a tax-free zone which features the Zona Austral Mall, a duty-free complex filled with shops, restaurants and cafes where you can grab a bargain before your holiday. If you are looking for some camera accessories to enhance your chance of snapping the best images or even a plush waterproof jacket to keep the elements at bay, this is the perfect place to peruse.

The chance to explore Punta Arenas before your Antarctic cruise should not be missed. The city has a great maritime history, fascinating wildlife on its doorstep and stunning views out to sea. To book your polar cruise from Chile, contact our knowledgeable team today.

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