Call Your Closest Clinic, Australia-Wide
Call Your Closest Clinic, Australia-Wide

Patagonia and Punta Arenas

Dr Leo Foong TMA member in Rockingham WA

Bucket lists are there to be crossed and this I have done after getting to visit Santiago for a week and the Patagonian region and then to Punta Arenas to fly to King George Island (thereby escaping the emetic Drake Passage) for an Antarctic Cruise.

Patagonia is a region encompassing the vast southernmost tip of South America and shared by Argentina and Chile. The Andes mountains divides the two countries and forms a geographic boundary. On the Chilean side there are temperate rainforests and glacial fjords.

Within Patagonia it is mainly national parks with strict control on who visits and what you can bring into the parks. Fire, I gathered, is one of the most feared – for risk of bush/forest which can destroy many hundreds of acres of bushland.

Consequently you are reminded by rangers and guides that it is forbidden to light fires whilst camping in the open areas within the national parks.

Whist visiting at the beginning of February 2018, we had an Australian travel agent who advised us on the itinerary for the trip.

An early morning flight from Santiago brought us after 3.5 hrs to Punta Arena, the biggest southern town in the area.  (You can also start your Antarctic cruise from here.)


The hotel we were staying was within the Torres del Paine national park – called Hosteria Las Torres.

The organized transport was late in arriving at the airport due to road conditions and as weather was cold (at 0 to -1C ),  we waited within the airport.

We were told the drive will take about 5 hours and lunch would be served on the way.


As we set off on the journey to our digs, the guide / driver stated there was an abundance of wild life which we would encounter on the route.


We did. We saw Flamingoes, many other types of bird including the Condor and the plentiful Guanacos which were quite cute. We were indeed fortunate to see a Puma wandering across the road whilst we were travelling. What was interesting was when I shouted “EMU” but only to be told it was a
“Rhea”- looks like an emu but smaller and flightless.


Journey to Torres del Paine was not overly exciting with flat bush lands and bent trees from the wind but the guide/driver did stop and point out the local wildlife when the occasion arose - various types of birds and a gathering of flamingoes as well.


We stopped at a working ranch of cattle and sheep, which was midway to our destination for lunch. (The ranch had the same owners as the hotel. )

The original dwelling where the ranch owner lived had been restored and it was interesting to note that there were no luxuries there.


The three course lunch was followed by a show of the sheep dogs corralling the animals.


On another tack, I researched the history of the hotel and quote the following from the hotel information provided,


“Las Torres Hotel dates back to 1979, when Antonio Kusanovic Senkovic, son of Croatian immigrants, acquired Cerro Paine Ranch located at the base of the majestic “Torres del Paine” mountain range. This eight thousand acre ranch served as his family’s home and a place where he began his cattle breeding business.

In the early 90s, as more and more visitors became drawn to the beauty of Torres del Paine National Park, Mr. Kusanovic and his wife, decided to build nine additional rooms and a small restaurant to welcome some of the visitors passing through the ranch en route to the park. They named it “Hostería Las Torres”, a place where they can share the warmth of the people and customs of Patagonia with others.” Now it has more than 85 rooms.

Following are photographs which reflect what I witnessed on the trek around the national park.