Famed for its colony of adorable Spheniscus magellanicus penguins, the Penguin Sanctuary of Otway Sound - or Pingüinera de Seno Otway - is one of the most easily visited penguin preserves in the world. Almost 5,000 of the smallish "warm weather" penguins - all of them couples - make their way here in September, and begin building nests. Most lay their eggs in October, and start hatching fuzzy gray chicks by late November.
Most visitors arrive in November and December, eager to see the baby penguins. Many of the adults spend the day fishing, so try to arrive at the sanctuary before 8am or after 5pm, when the hardworking spouses bring home their bounty to share with their young families.
Also accessible from Punta Arenas Isla Magdalena is home to a much larger colony (more than 100,000 penguins). It's much more difficult and expensive to visit than Otway Sound, but worth the effort for serious penguin lovers.
The penguin sanctuary at Otway Sound is located about 65 km (40 mi) northwest of the town of Punta Arenas, the most important city on the Straights of Magellan. Most visitors arrive at the Carlos Ibáñez Airport (PUQ), about 20 km (12 mi) north of town, with direct flights to most major Chilean cities. There are also ferries, geared to tourists (so allow for plenty of time and money) that make the trip, stopping at beautiful destinations en route.
By car or bus, it's about 3 hours on a good gravel road from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales. While Punta Arenas is well worth exploring, you can catch a bus right from the airport to Puerto Natales, gateway to the penguin sanctuary. Both Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales are tourist destinations, and have a range of hotels and other services geared to foreign guests.
Tours & Tickets
From the Punta Arenas cruise port, visit Otway Sound Penguin Colony (Pingüinera de Seno Otway) on this 3.5-hour shore excursion. Walk around the penguin ... Read more
Punta Arenas, Chile
Duration: 3 hours 30 minutes (approx.)