Day trip to see the King Penguins in Porvenir, from Punta Arenas

The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
25 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
South America
Length of time
1 day or less
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 80
Time of year visited
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
All Tags
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
363rd/372 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Bottom 10% SUMMARY RATING: Gash


I look back at this and do laugh to myself quite a lot.  My girlfriend was super keen to see the penguins and we had some spare time in Patagonia before one of our big hikes, so decided to head from Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas and arrange one of the day trips to see the King Penguins in Porvenir.  Yes the penguins are cute, yes the Fernando Cordero Rusque Museum in Porvenir is worth a quick look, and yes getting a couple of ferries can give a chance to look at the landscape from the water.  Unfortunately though, my recommendation would be don’t do it mainly because:

  • You’ll be spending the full day travelling from Punta Arenas to Porvenir for roughly an hour looking at the penguins
  • The penguins, cute as they are, are roughly 80m (250 feet) away so you have to look at them through the telescopes provided / just squint a lot
  • Both the penguin colony at Useless Bay, the museum and the ferry stops can feel quite crowded, which is a bit of a sharp change after having vast areas to yourself in the areas around
  • The scenery is quite nice, but nothing compared to the sights to the north in Patagonia around Torres del Paine (see 3 very civilised days in Torres del Paine National Park for some inspiration), nor to the south around Ushuaia in the remainder of the Tierra del Fuego (see A trip to the end of the earth, 4 days in the Tierra del Fuego for further tips)
  • Even with the penguins, you could get far closer and see more, albeit smaller, penguins in the Beagle Channel next to Ushuaia
  • Punta Arenas felt far more industrial and quite frankly less to do that the more quaint Puerto Natales or the more bustling Ushuaia
  • [The trip from Puerto Natales to Punta Arenas and back takes up the best part of a day either side of the day trip to see the penguins.  But, that is our own silly fault for planning that]

Not a fan!


Seeing the King Penguins . . . from afar

Rough itinerary

  • Get picked up around 8am to take the ferry from Punta Arenas to Porvenir
  • Visit the Fernando Cordero Rusque Museum in Porvenir
  • Observe the King Penguins at Useless Bay
  • Head up to the north point of the Tierra del Fuego to get the ferry back to the mainland and return to Punta Arenas

Similar adventures around the world

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone