Before the Panama Canal, there was the Strait of Magellan. This cinematic channel linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans cuts between the mainland tip of South America and Tierra del Fuego island. It was the passage of choice for seafaring transport between these two oceans until the Panama Canal shortened the distance by thousands of miles in 1914.
The first European to traverse its waters, all 560 kilometers (350 miles) in length and up to 32 kilometers (20 miles) in width of them, was Portuguese sailor Ferdinand Magellan, who did so in 1520 in the name of Spanish exploration. Magellan surely sailed mouth agape at the impressive glacial and mountainous scenery, the undiscovered colonies of Magellanic penguins, pods of humpback whales and schools of Commerson’s and Peale’s dolphins—all surely as equally agog with the presence of man in this Patagonian paradise. With photogenic Punta Arenas as its main port, the Strait of Magellan is a bucket-list voyage for intrepid adventurers the world over.