Punta Arenas, The Historical Gateway to The Antarctic

21st November 2013, 02:42pm

Pictured at the bottom are Ernest Shackleton, Frank Worsley and Tom Crean in Punta Arenas 1916 after their successful rescue mission of the Endurance crew after the disastrous 1914-1916 Antarctic expedition.

“Everything that could swim in the way of a boat was out to meet us.” – Sir Ernest Shackleton
On arriving in Punta Arenas from Elephant Island by the Chilean naval vessel Yelcho after rescuing his stranded crew after the disastrous turn of events for his 1914-1916 Endurance Expedition.

As our Willis Resilience Expedition Team make their final preparations down in Punta Arenas, Chile, on this #ThrowbackThursday we wanted to look back at this historic ‘Gateway to the Antarctic‘ for polar explorers old and new.

Punta Arenas is situated at the very tip of Southern Chile and therefore has been stop-off point for Polar expeditions due to its geographic location – it is the world’s southernmost city situated at 53°10′S.

This city has laid pilgrimage to many of history’s Polar greats including Amundsen in 1897 aboard Belgica, Scott in 1904 and Shackleton in 1916, who are remembered by various plaques throughout the city.


In the main city square there is a statue that pays homage to Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan who was one of the first European explorers to navigate the circumference of the world in the 16th Century. Legend goes that people taking their own expedition must kiss or rub the statue’s toe in the square to ensure safe passage.

Though some things have come a long way since these times, with huge advancements in kit and equipment, the routes and passages explorers must make to reach this isolated region will stand the test of time as man goes head to head with one of the world’s harshest environments.