Puerto Williams is a Chilean village on the northern shores of the sparsely populated island of Navarino. It is diagonally opposite the much larger city of Ushuaia, in Argentina. For those who make it here, often depending on the weather conditions, Puerto Williams offers a starting base from which to explore the remote island wilderness, or just take a few days to chill out and be relatively “cut off” from the rest of the World.
It is the southern-most populated village on Earth (prior to reaching Antarctica), located on the northern coast of “Isla Navarino” (Navarino Island) about 50km east from Ushuaia on the opposite side of the Beagle Channel. Founded in 1953 it has a population of around 2,000 people and is a highly important Chilean Naval base.
Puerto Williams, meaning Williams Port, was named after an Irish Captain called John Williams. The village comprises a number of simple, private houses, a plaza, an airport for air connection to Punta Arenas, a small yacht marina and houses for naval personnel.
Navarino Island is an untouched, remote island in the southern tip of South America. Beyond its southern shores is the famous Cape Horn, for which in summer months there are private yachts that offer charter trips to the area (note that these trips can take several days and in rough weather).
The island stands out for its biological diversity and untouched landscapes, as well as retaining a great treasure: the presence of the ancestral, ethnic Yagán people - one of the most rudimentary indigenous cultures with regards to its material development, but at the same time one of the most surprising with its oral tradition, and in its ability to survive around glaciers, canals, strong winds and generally difficult environmental conditions.
To explore the island and area around Puerto Williams it is best to come in the Chilean summer months of January and February and book the services of a local guide. Hotel accommodation is basic, except for one hotel outside the city.
Puerto Williams is connected to mainland Chile by air and car ferry from Punta Arenas (350km north) or by zodiac dingy from Ushuaia, via Puerto Navarino (directly opposite Ushuaia).