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April 1st, 2013 

Puerto Montt, Chile


 Puerto Montt, Chile is literally a city at the end of the road. One of the final stops on the south end of the Pan-American Highway, Puerto Montt is a gateway to the wonder and adventure that waits at the very bottom of South America. This is a great place to experience the nature and culture of Chile, or use the city as a launching point for cruises and explorations of the beautiful surrounding islands and fjords.

 The economy of Puerto Montt is based on salmon aqua culture and tourism. The city is well-prepared to receive visitors, with a temperate climate year-round. There is a major resort, the Pelluco, which features hotels, spas, restaurants, and discos right off the picturesque beach. Chiloé Island is South America’s largest island just off the coast of Puerto Montt, offering opportunities for kayaking, horseback riding, and boat tours. You can also ski down a volcano in the Parque Nacional Hornopirén. For those interested in day trips, there are ferries and cruises to the local cities of Calbuco, Maullin, and Carelmapu.

 The city’s history is mostly heartbreaking and political. The land was originally covered by a thick forest called the Melipulli. The forest was cleared in 1851 to make space for a government-sponsored settlement of German immigrants, and the area was named after then-Chilean president Manuel Montt, who sponsored the immigration effort. Sadly, Puerto Montt is perhaps most well-known in Chile for a massacre that occurred there in 1969 and led to the downfall of the government of Eduardo Frei. A group of squatters settled on unoccupied farmland on the advice of Socialist parliament member Luis Espinoza. At midnight on March 9, police launched an attack on the squatters, burning their homes to the ground and shooting 11 people. There are several monuments and even songs dedicated to the victims. Those interested in the history and culture of the area should check out the Municipal Museum of Juan Pablo II, dedicated after the Pope’s visit to Puerto Montt in 1987.


 The locals in the area take great pride in their culture, and the food is something you should not miss. Puerto Montt is known for curanto, a traditional Mapuche stew that includes chicken, pork, lamb, various types of seafood, and potatoes. Milcao, a type of potato bread, is also popular. You can find these foods in restaurants or in the vast market of shellfish and local crafts located near the Puerto Montt port. If you are looking for a break from planned tours, the city also features a public library, Diego Rivera art museum, and the first public square in Chile to feature a garden.

 There is an international airport in Puerto Montt, “El Tepual.” However, visitors can also easily find cars and buses traveling from Santiago, which may be a cheaper and more scenic option. Luxury cruises and catamarans are also interesting means of traveling to the port city.

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