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Join the Whales in their Secret Haven

Enjoy the privilege of crossing the waters of the Strait of Magellan in search of humpback whales. These giants of the sea are known for their love of pirouettes and their complex language of sounds.

It had already been established that these cetaceans migrated through the Pacific from their warmer waters of Central America, where they reproduce, to the frigid waters of the Antarctic, where they feed each summer. But a group of Chilean scientists discovered that some of the whales chose the waters of Carlos III Island to feed every year. That is to say, they all travel together from the equator, but for some unknown reason, some decide to stay in the Strait of Magellan, while others continue to the Antarctic. The phenomenon makes this area the only place in the Southern Hemisphere where humpback whales feed outside the White Continent.

Over 100 humpback whales have been recorded here. They're quite easy to spot by the bunch, although obviously any guarantee of seeing them depends on the whales themselves. It's possible that they'll choose to wait until the last minute of your stay to make an appearance, jumping out of their water and stretching their 17-meter-long, 40-ton bodies in an awe-inspiring spectacle. Or maybe they'll just swim calmly and snort powerfully just meters from your boat.

In 2003, this place was declared the first Protected Marine Area in our country, and was given the name Francisco Coloane Marine Park. The island includes a camp with two ecological domes and all the basic facilities a tourist might need. It's also home to a research center and an observatory.


Featured Destinations of Southern Patagonia

aAntarctic

bStrait of Magellan
cPunta Arenas

dTierra del Fuego
eTorres del Paine National Park

fPuerto Natales

 

Tours you can do

Hiking Torres del Paine

The Mylodon Cave
Dientes de Navarino

Magdalena Island
Marino Francisco Coloane Park

Puerto Edén
Última Esperanza - Mariano Glacier


Cruises to Puerto Williams and Cape Horn

 

Getting there

barco
By Boat
There are two alternatives: from Punta Arenas, you can travel to Faro San Isidro and board a medium-sized ship, or you can travel to Riesco Island and take a larger ship, which departs around 7:00 am.
 

Tips

01

Humpback whales Kayaking Scientific aspect
Trips to see the humpback whales begin in December. This is the time of year when they begin to arrive from the waters where they spend the spring, near the equator. There are kayaking programs from Carlos III Island that explore areas like the Ballena Sound and Rupert Island, where you can enjoy a close encounter with the whales and go bird watching. The scientific aspect of the aquatic park is an important one, and there are tours that emphasize this. The tours consist of smaller groups (12 people), which makes it easier to ask questions and talk with the local scientists about the species living around Carlos III Island.

02

Climate Reading Sailing
The climate in the Strait of Magellan can vary wildly all throughout the year. During the day, you may notice significant changes in wind speed, and the rains may surprise you. Aboard the boats, there are special suits to protect you from the water, but you need to bring your own waterproof footwear. Want company on your journey? Francisco Coloane, a writer and prolific chronicler of local stories, lent his name to the park. In 1962, he wrote one of his best-known novels, El Camino de la Ballena ("The Way of the Whale"), which provides good reading for your trip. It's the story of a young adventurer who takes to the sea aboard a whaling ship. A good option if you find yourself in a hurry or are wary of sailing. In a day, you can make the trip to a small boat that will allow you to enjoy spotting whales and birds throughout the area.

 

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