Puerto Natales

Travel Guide South America Chile Puerto Natales



Puerto Natales 3

Puerto Natales 3

© capibara

Puerto Natales, in the Patagonian region of Chile, is the southern terminal stop of the Navimag ferry, and the gateway to Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. It is a popular tourist destination, especially during January and February. It offers good infrastructure, especially a few trekking shops (although you'd do better to get your gear in Punta Arenas) and not-so-cheap supermarkets.

Puerto Natales features a couple of characteristics that visitors should be aware of. One is that the population is largely descended from immigrants from Chiloé, and the "chilote" tendencies (cooking, building style) are evident. Another characteristic is that there are very strong Communist/Leftist affiliations in this town, so take this into account by being careful with your conversations involving related politics. Aside from the chilotes, you will find many surnames of British and Croatian descent.



Sights and Activities

  • Cueva del Milodón Natural Monument - e-mail: [email protected]. 8:30am-8:30pm. This is a good place to visit if you are an archaeology lover. The 200-metre deep cave is astonishing, besides there are two more caves which are worth seeing, both have been recentlty dug by a team of archaeologist of the Instituto de la Patagonia, having found rests of paleofauna and human remains. There's a scenic interpretive loop trail and campsites run by CONAF. CLP$2,000-$4,000.




Whatever the season you choose to travel, be prepared for harsh weather conditions, not only cold, but wind and strong sun. You can have the four seasons in the course of a day! During late spring and summer, it can get very windy.



Getting There

Remember that it's not allowed to bring fruit, vegetables or animal products from Argentina into Chile. Chilean border officials always check luggage, especially if you are a tourist, and if they find anything which is not declared in the form you are asked to fill in, you will have to pay a fine and will have your goods confiscated.

By Plane

There is no regularly scheduled air service to Puerto Natales. Travellers can fly into nearby Punta Arenas.

By Bus

Buses arrive and depart from Rodoviario Puerto Natales, a 10 minute walk away from the central area.

Daily buses arrive from El Calafate, (Argentina) (about six hours).

Buses arrive and depart several times a day from Punta Arenas, Chile. The trip takes about three hours. There are several companies including Buses Fernandez, but it's easiest to book the tickets in person at the bus company's location in Punta Arenas depending on your schedule. Those who can may be able to get the regular bus diverted via the airport saving them a trip to Punta Arenas centre. Most bus companies will do this, but you should ask when you purchase your ticket.

Buses and tours depart to Torres del Paine, El Calafate and El Chalten through several agencies in town, during summer book ahead.

By Boat

The Navimag ferry runs from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales.

By Car

It is possible to drive from Rio Gallegos, Argentina, to Puerto Natales. This takes 5 hours and the road is entirely paved.

From El Calafate, the road is entirely paved too, and the trip takes less than 4 hours.



Getting Around

By Car

Also known as radio-taxis, are fast in case you feel asleep and don't want to miss your bus to Punta Arenas or El Calafate and are also a good option to visit Mylodons Cave or Cerro Dorotea (Dorotea Hill). They usually charge CH$ 1000 during the day and CH$2000 at night, for destinations within the city. They are not metered as in Santiago or Punta Arenas, so always ask: ¿Cuánto cuesta la carrera? (How much is the ride?) so that you agree upon a fare in advance.

By Public Transport

Taxis colectivos are shared taxis, although entirely black (taxis have a yellow roof), running on fixed routes like buses (which are not found in this city) with a roof sign indicating the destination. They charge about CH$400. Since the bus terminal is far on foot from downtown Natales, colectivos are a good option to get there because they are cheaper than taxis (which tend to charge more to tourists).

By Foot

This is a small, waterside town that is easily accessible on foot. Most services are found between a sort of triangle formed by Manuel Bulnes street to the west, Pedro Montt street (costanera) to the north and Bernardo Philipi to the southeast. In the junction of Philipi and Bulnes streets, there's Baquedano Street, where you can find fruitshops, internet cafés, pharmacies and call centers. If you keep walking you find Plaza O´Higgings between Miraflores and Yungay, around which you can find budget lodges. The plaza de armas (square) is a large open area between Eberhard and Bories, around which you can find the municipal buildings, the church, the post office, some pubs and restaurants and a bank.

If you walk up along Miraflores street to the "sector alto", you will reach Santiago Bueras Avenue, where you can get nice views of the city and the scenic beauty that surrounds it.

Following the coast direction to the harbour, there is a boat cemetery.




The water quality in Natales is not particularly good, though it is considered safe and healthy by the government. It has a high concentration of dissolved mineral content. The Natales municipal water is pumped from wells and the raw water is rather silty, with high tannin and other organic content. The water does not come "from the glaciers" which in any event are more than 40 kilometres away and dump their icemelt into the brackish waters of the fjord.




There are plenty of hostels and residentials around the town. There are also many Hospedajes. The (mostly) women of the hospedajes wait for the bus to come and try to talk tourists into their home. They have really good deals and will usually serve breakfast and store your luggage while you are trekking. Spanish language skills are useful if you choose a hospedaje.

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)




Keep Connected


There are cybercafes in every major and midsize city and at all tourist destinations. Some libraries are in a program called Biblioredes, with free computers and Internet. Wifi is getting more and more common. They're usually in metro stations, airports, malls, cafes, public buildings and several public spaces. Check for the ones that say gratis - for free. McDonald's and Starbucks are chains which almost always have free wifi.


See also International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Chile is: 56. To make an international call from Chile, the code is: 00. Emergency phone numbers include 131 (Ambulance), 132 (Fire) and 133 (Police).

Public phones located on streets are very likely to be tampered or vandalized, so it's better to use a phone located inside a commerce or a station. Prepaid cards for mobile phones and public phones are sold at most newspaper kiosks, supermarkets, gas stations, pharmacies and phone dealers. Mobile GSM networks are ubiquitous in all major cities and most of the territory of central and southern Chile. A basic prepaid cellular phone usually costs about 15,000 pesos, most frequently charged with 10,000 pesos worth of prepaid minutes. No ID is required to buy a prepaid phone. GSM SIM cards from ENTEL, Movistar or Claro are usually available for 5,000 pesos, but without credit, so you'll need to buy some prepaid minutes to be able to call. Money can be charged into a cellphone from some pharmacies (Ahumada, Cruz Verde and Salco Brand) on the counter and in cash, or by using a credit card through an automated service operator, with directions in Spanish or English.


Correos de Chile is the national postal service, and although relatively slow it is reliable with post offices throughout the country. On the website you can find more information about prices to send letters, postcards and parcels, both domestically as well as internationally. Post offices are generally open Monday to Friday from 9:00am to 6:00pm and Saturday until 2:00pm, although there are sometimes longer opening hours in the bigger central post offices and shorter ones in small places. Ask around. If you want to send packages internationally, you might consider companies like DHL, TNT or UPS, which are fast, reliable and usually competitively priced as well.


Quick Facts


  • Latitude: -51.732529
  • Longitude: -72.505127

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This is version 23. Last edited at 9:52 on Oct 11, 17 by Utrecht. 7 articles link to this page.

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