Vicinity is a relative term on Tierra del Fuego, as some fascinating locales are difficult or expensive—or both—to reach. Cordillera Darwin, Ltda. (Croacia 675, tel. 061/50167 or 099/6407204, www.explorepatagonia.cl) does brief dolphin-watching tours around Bahía Chilote, vehicle tours of the Cordón Baquedano, three-day horseback excursions to the Río Cóndor, and a six-day trip to the Cordillera Darwin that’s substantially less expensive than the luxury cruises on the Mare Australis and Via Australis in the Fjords of Fuegia.
Directly on the water, Parque Yugoslavo memorializes the earliest gold-seeking immigrants, mostly Croatians; it’s also one of Porvenir’s best birding spots. The tourist office provides a small map/brochure, in English, of the city’s architectural heritage; many of its houses and other buildings were also Croatian-built.
Most public buildings surround the neatly landscaped Plaza de Armas, two blocks north of Parque Yugoslavo. Among them is the Museo de Tierra del Fuego Fernando Rusque Cordero (Zavattaro 402, tel. 061/581800), a regional museum that deals with the island’s natural history, indigenous heritage, the early gold rush, the later but longer-lasting wool rush, and even cinematography—in 1929, German-born filmmaker José Bohr went to Hollywood and enjoyed a long if inconsistent career. It has added a credible replica of an early rural store and a good photographic display on local architecture.
The museum takes its name from a Carabineros officer who helped found it—and was no doubt responsible for the permanent police uniform exhibit. Weekday hours are 9 a.m.–5 p.m., while weekend hours are 10:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. and 3–5 p.m. Admission costs US$1.
© Wayne Bernhardson from Moon Chile, 2nd edition