Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Puerto Williams - Beyond the end of the world

Puerto Williams from the hills above the town

Puerto Williams is a small town on the island of Navarino and is the southernmost town in the world. Puerto Williams is often described as being "beyond the end of the world" - as a reference to Ushuaia's claim to be the end of the world. It's main attraction is trekking in the spectacular mountains that surround the town known as the "dientes de Navarino" (The teeth of Navarino).

To get to Puerto Williams from Ushuaia you have to take one of the infrequent and expensive ferries. 
The ferry at Ushuaia
As the ferries are quite small (14 passengers) they are subject to the Beagle Channel's fickle weather and crossings are often cancelled.

The ferry crosses the river to Puerto Navarino which is a tiny settlement (basically a few navy buildings and an immigration office).
Welcome to Puerto Navarino
From Puerto Navarino there is a connecting bus which drives the 50km to Puerto Williams along a gravel coastal road.
The bay at Mejillones on the way to Puerto Williams
The trip takes around 1 hr to Puerto Williams. The town itself has a population of around 1500 people, most of whom are local navy personnel from the base in town. Outside of the base the town has a small selection of shops, cafe's and bars catering to tourists and locals alike. 
The main square of Puerto Williams
The selection of goods is very limited and is only replenished when the once a week ferry arrives from Punta Arenas - on the day this arrives there is a "rush" in town to buy the fresh vegetables and other food that arrives on the ferry which adds to the town's feeling of remoteness - it really is beyond the end of the world in Puerto Williams.
A tall ship in the Beagle Channel at Puerto Williams