Modern Valparaíso’s maritime orientation is palpable in the Barrio Puerto, where the main public buildings cluster around remodeled Plaza Sotomayor, now vehicle-free after construction of an underground parking garage; while it’s clearly an improvement over the previous parking lot, the plaza’s barrenness is still disconcerting.
At the plaza’s upper end, the former Intendencia Regional (1910), built to seat the provincial government, is now the Primera Zona Naval, the national naval headquarters that symbolizes the navy’s influence.Destination:Activities:
Part of state-run Codelco, 55 kilometers east of Rancagua, El Teniente is the world’s largest underground mine; its more than 2,400 kilometers of tunnels yield some 435,000 metric tons of copper ore per annum. It dates from 1905, when the U.S.-based Braden Copper Company began operations; after its acquisition by Kennecott Copper Company and the outbreak of World War I, production increased rapidly and the company became enormously wealthy.Destination:Activities:
Chile’s national flower, the copihue (Lapageria rosea), flaunts its autumn blooms in the deciduous lowland forest of Cerro Ñielol, a 90-hectare reserve that rises barely 200 meters above sea level on the north side of Temuco. Several short trails thread among the park’s mixed woodlands of roble (Nothofagus obliqua, one of Chile’s many southern beeches) with either laurel (Laurelia sempervirens) or olivillo (Aextoxican punctatum).Destination:Activities:
Along the Costanera Prat north of the Sernatur office, the Feria Fluvial is a colorful riverside fish, fruit, and vegetable market that’s also the departure point for downstream riverboat floats to Niebla and Corral. Southern sea lions have begun to hang out here, and there have been biting incidents that probably resulted from human provocations—enjoy them from a distance.Destination:Activities:
Where the Río Valdivia and the Río Tornagaleones empty into the Pacific, Spain’s imperial government built elaborate fortifications at Niebla, Corral, and Isla Mancera in the mid-17th century to protect the refounded city of Valdivia from European privateers and interlopers such as Britain, France, and the Netherlands.
In their heyday, these were the largest fortified complex on the Pacific coast of the Americas; they played a major role in Chilean independence when, in 1820, the audacious British mercenary Lord Thomas Cochrane captured them from Spanish forces. Today, all are national monuments.Destination:Activities:
As a land transport hub, Osorno offers excellent access to some of the lake district’s most popular summer resort areas. Among them are Lago Puyehue, Termas de Puyehue, and other lesser hot-springs resorts in its vicinity, Parque Nacional Puyehue, and the northern and western shores of Lago Llanquihue, including the picturesque towns of Puerto Octay and Frutillar.Destination:Activities:
Other than the lake and its inspiring views toward Volcán Osorno, Puerto Varas’s main attraction is its Germanic colonial architecture. The most imposing single structure is the Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón (1915), a national monument whose steeple soars above the town from the corner of San Francisco and María Brunn. When lit at night, it’s best seen from the corner of Imperial and Santa Rosa.Destination:Activities:
In 1584, Spanish explorer Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa organized an expedition of 15 ships and 4,000 men to control the Strait of Magellan, but after a series of disasters only three ships with 300 colonists arrived to found Ciudad del Rey don Felipe, south of present-day Punta Arenas. Even worse for the Spaniards, the inhospitable climate and unsuitable soils made agriculture impossible; when British privateer Thomas Cavendish landed three years later, he found only a handful of survivors and dubbed it Port Famine, which has survived as the Spanish Puerto del Hambre.Destination:Activities:
Misleadingly named, Museo Marítimo de Ushuaia (Yaganes and Gobernador Paz, tel. 02901/437481, museomar [at] satlink [dot] com) best tells the tale of Ushuaia’s inauspicious origins as a penal settlement for both civilian and military prisoners. Alarmed over the South American Missionary Society’s incursions among the Beagle Channel’s indigenous peoples, Argentina reinforced its claims to the territory by building, in 1884, a military prison on Isla de los Estados (Staten Island), across the Strait of Lemaire from the Isla Grande’s southeastern tip.Destination:Activities:
Historic Harberton dates from 1886, when missionary pioneer Thomas Bridges resigned from Ushuaia’s Anglican mission to settle at his new estancia at Downeast, later renamed for the Devonshire home of his wife, Mary Ann Varder. Thomas Bridges, of course, authored the famous English-Yámana dictionary, and their son Lucas continued the literary tradition with The Uttermost Part of the Earth, his memoir of a boyhood and life among the indigenous Yámana and Ona (Selknam).Destination:Activities:
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