Channel of Last Hope (Ultima Esperanza)
The best way to get a close-up view of the striking landscapes is by taking a cruise: views are far better than from land. Boat expeditions up the channel offer stellar views of Balmaceda Mountain and the Serrano Glacier, accessible via a short hike, where visitors walk on the surface of the glacier, visit ice caves, and kayak amid the icebergs of Serrano Glacier Lake. Wildlife enthusiasts can spot cormorants, sea lions, dolphins, and a variety of shorebirds nesting along the banks of the channel.
Multiple tour operators provide day trips through the channel, typically leaving from Puerto Natales. Some tours of Torres del Paine also begin with a trip through the channel—a great way for even those with limited time to experience it.
Things to know before you go
- The Channel of Last Hope appeals to adventure-seekers, but you need to plan your trip in advance.
- Dress in layers; it’s cold out on the water but you warm up when hiking.
- Don’t forget to bring sunscreen; even in winter, the sun can be harsh.
How to get there
Travelers typically access the Channel of Last Hope on a boat tour from Puerto Natales. It is a good idea to book in advance as tours are popular.
When to get there
The best time to visit is during the Chilean summer, from November through early March. This period brings the most pleasant weather for exploring the outdoors, although it is peak tourist season. Spring is a good alternative for beating the crowds, but temperatures can get bitingly cold.
The Milodon Cave (Cueva del Milodón)
Sometimes included in trips to the Channel of Lost Hope and Torres del Paine, Cueva del Milodón Natural Monument is 15 miles (24 kilometers) northwest of Puerto Natales and a site of paleontological interest. Formed by three caves, the site pays homage to the milodon, its former inhabitant, with a small museum and a life-sized replica of the enormous mammal.