Puerto Williams

The furthest corner of Chile

Puerto Williams is referred to as the place “beyond the end of the world” (“más allá del fin del mundo”) by the locals. It was originally called “Upushun” or Zarzapilla bay (local fruit) in Yagán.

The history of this picturesque village, located between mountains and sea, began more than 7000 years ago with the “Yagan” or “Yamana” people. A canoeing nomadic people that understood the wild environment they lived in harmony with nature, navigating its complex geography and swimming in its freezing channels, always carrying fire in their canoes to the remotest corner.

Land of Yaganes

The Port was founded on 21 of November of 1953 It was first named Puerto Luisa but on the 22 of August of 1956 it was renamed Puerto Williams, in commemoration of the British marine Juan Williams, commander of the Schooner Ancud who, in the Name of the Chilean Government, took possession of the Estrecho de Magallanes, the 21 of September of 1843, and who founded Fuerte Bulnes.

Today, this corner of the word is inhabited by the Yagan community and the descendants of European colonies, who came to found Puerto Williams and still upkeep the original residencies on the Island. The group also encompasses the Naval population, and a lot of adventurers who – for different reasons, have come to install themselves in the sector, changing themselves in this great intercultural melting pot. The “puertowillemses” or “willemses” devote themselves mostly to crabfishing, timber and tourism. In the summer, the place gets lively when various navigation fans from all over the world stop over on this last geographical step on their way to Cabo de Hornos and to the faraway Antartica. Puerto Williams becomes their base of operations, where they share their adventure and travel stories from all over the world.

Today, where locals and adventurers meet

These navigators, the brave fishermen and the adventurous sailors continue in the footprints of mariners from the old days, who sought a transoceanic passage, like the mythical Brit Francis Drake or Jacob Le Maire y Willem Schouten, who discovered Cabo de Hornos for the Western World in the 17th century. It`s also the territory where Fitz Roy and Charles Darwin were exploring the biologically abundant rich grounds and the cruel and wild nature, the same who navigated the Onashaga for the first time, calling it Canal Beagle in 1830, in the first of their famous travels on Board of the HMS Beagle. From this date, religious and ethnological missions started to take place in the region, like the Anglican Mission by the “South American Missionary Society”. Its history that can be reconstructed along the route Casa Stirling took, the first house built by a white person in Tierra del Fuego. It was pre-constructed in Britain, and travelled along the archipelago from the Malvinas to Isla Navarino, passing through Ushuaia and Isla Hoste. Today it can be found, erected and restored, in Puerto Williams, alongside the “Museo Antropológico Martin Gusinde”, which records the legacy of Martin Gusinde, priest and ethnologist, known for his great anthropological trade in the zone, having been one of the few who let a graphical and written record which is of great value for this beautiful culture.