After our Antarctic trip, we spent a few weeks exploring the glaciers and channels of the Beagle Channel. Puerto Williams is the only immigration and customs point in the area for Chile.
The Beagle Channel, after HMS Beagle, runs east to west through the complex system of islands that forms Tierra del Fuego and can be seen clearly in the satellite photo to the right. Its eastern section forms the border between Chile and Argentina, with Chile encompassing the western length. The Argentine city of Ushuaia and the Chilean naval town of Puerto Williams both lie on its shores.
Puerto Williams, on the Chilean side of the channel and some 25 miles from Ushuaia, is a Chilean Armada (navy) town, established on the island of Navarino directly south of Argentina.
It is small and populated mostly by Armada personnel. These boats patrol the channels and straits regularly.
Visiting yachts are able to tie to the Micalvi, an old wreck grounded and turned into a dock. In the summer, up to several dozen can be found rafted alongside. Approaching from the channel, the yacht masts are visible under the jagged skyline of the Dientes de Navarino (Navarino “Teeth”).
Large vessels, like this 100′ British yacht, have to anchor out in the channel.
Boats arriving and departing result in a continuing game of musical chairs, to the chagrin of those rafted toward the outside. In the winter, most of these boats disappear.
The Micalvi has some interesting attractions of its own. The main cabin has been turned into a bar and is open most nights.
The roading in Puerto Williams is rural South American, although many locals do have vehicles.
The town is on the Fuegian island of Isla Navarino, and all supplies come by sea or air.
This kingfisher is resident around the Micalvi, and is not too afraid of humans.
Perched on a mooring line next to the boat, he presents some great photo opportunities.
A nearby mount is a hike of a few hours, and presents a wonderful view of Puerto Williams.
The Beagle channel runs west to east on the north coast of Isla Navarino. Cape Horn lies to the south, around the eastern side of the island.
The mount is called Cerro Bandera, or “Flag Hill”. The Beagle to the west heads toward Ushuaia. The land on the other side of the channel is Argentina.