Remote Puerto Chacabuco in Patagonia, Chile
After leaving Puerto Montt, my parents found themselves in the Patagonian town of Puerto Chacabuco, which is located in southern Chile at the head of the Aysen Fjord.
The photographs and my parents memories of the port confirmed that there isn't much to do in the town except to enjoy the surrounding scenery and nature. After doing some research into the port I found internet forums full of cruise ship passengers complaining that this isolated place is too boring to be on a cruise itinerary. I couldn't disagree more! I think it would be spectacular to visit such a remote part of the world. It's special to visit a place where, for the most part, nature is still untouched. After all, this is Patagonia! A paradise once home to the dinosaurs!
Patagonia is barely populated and yet stretches over a vast area including parts of the Andes Mountains. It contains deserts, grasslands, mountains, glaciers, and flanks both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
The word Patagonia stems from the use of the word Patagon, which was used to describe the mythical native people of the area by Ferdinand Magellan, who was leading an expedition to explore the region in the 1500s. His expedition claimed that the Patagon were giants, reaching heights of up to four meters! Magellan was not the only one to have claimed the existence of the giants; Sir Francis Drake's ship captain, Francis Fletcher, and Commodore John Byron claimed to have encountered them as well.
The rumors and and tales of these people reached Europe and were considered factual until being disproved hundreds of years later by a newly released account of John Byron's voyage. It turns out that the 4 meter giants were really only 2 meter high indigenous men. Too bad, that made for a great story!
Puerto Chacabuco doesn't have the need for many stores and amenities because of the tiny population of 1000.
The only hotel available for travelers passing through Puerto Chacabuco is the five star Hotel Loberias del Sur. It seems odd to me that such a high star rating hotel would be found in this remote area but this is because the port receives many international nature enthusiasts throughout the year. Puerto Chacabuco is used as a starting point for many expeditions to the Chilean fjords and surrounding areas.
My parents told me they barely saw any locals on the streets. It was more like a ghost town with some of the locals glancing a quick peek from behind their window curtains to the cruise ship passengers outside. I suppose when you live in such a remote place you aren't looking to be social.
When I first looked at the photographs of this port I thought that these white domes were greenhouses. My parents informed me that they were actually set up by the town for the locals to sell some of their handmade goods to the cruise passengers.
My mum told me that the houses in Puerto Chacabuco reminded her of the homes she saw when she visited Russia (at the time still the Soviet Union) in the 1980s.
Some of the roads in Puerto Chacabuco are not paved and have giant pot holes. Apparently the port recently placed permanent road signs on the streets for the first time. I wonder what the locals thought about that!
The beautiful Chilean fire bush plant was blooming in Puerto Chacabuco.
Puerto Chacabuco doesn't have a true port for ships to dock. Cruise lines have to use tenders to transfer passengers back and forth from the ship to the town's pier. The Zaandam was waiting in the fjord before sailing for the next port of Punta Arenas.