Puerto Williams

January 21 Glaciar Garibaldi, Puerto Williams

Puerto Williams

Puerto Williams describes itself as “the southernmost town in the world”. It is located on Navarino Island on the south side of the Beagle Channel. Its population is about 2000, of which about half are Navy employees and their families.

Ships in port

Our cruise ship docked at the main pier, next to this naval vessel. The southern waters of Chile are home to quite a few of these. All of them display the motto of the Armada de Chile (Chilean Navy), which is “Vencer o Morir” (Victory or Death).

Yelcho

Close to the centre of town is all that remains of the tug “Yelcho”, the bow section. It was put here as a memorial to the time it was used to rescue the marooned Shackleton Antarctic expedition from Elephant Island.

Ukika

About two kilometres outside the town is Ukika Village, where the last of the aboriginal Yámana people live. The houses here are actually in better condition than the houses of the non-naval personnel in the town. The stone building with the orange roof is a souvenir shop, built to resemble the traditional dwellings of the Yámanas. We bought a hand-made rush basket there.

Valentina

When we were in Punta Arenas, the newspapers were reporting on the death of the second-to-last pureblooded Yámana. The last one was making baskets for the shop; this is her granddaughter Valentina.

Yacht club

Despite its small size, Puerto Williams has a yacht club. You might expect Navy people to be interested in boats, and many people doing long-distance trips stop in here too. The mountain range in the background is the Dientes (Teeth) de Navarino.

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