Puerto Montt



With a beautiful setting on the Gulf of Reloncavi, 630 mi/1,015 km south of Santiago, Puerto Montt, Chile's fastest-growing city, is the gateway for the "Inside Passage" ferry to Puerto Natales and cruises to the western Patagonian fjords, and the starting point for the Southern Highway. Initially settled by German immigrants who spread throughout the southern lakes district, Puerto Montt dates from 1853; however, little remains of its early German heritage, which is better glimpsed at nearby Puerto Varas (which also has better accommodations).

Today, the economy is primarily based on forest products and fishing; its port of Angelmo has exceptional fish and seafood, especially the centolla (king crabs) and locos (abalones). Tourism is a relatively small part of Puerto Montt's economy, which is evident in the lack of English proficiency when compared with more tourism-based cities, such as Puerto Natales. There are, however, plenty of high-quality local restaurants. For tourists, Puerto Montt is one end of the Navimag Ferry through the Patagonia fjords. It is also one of the larger cities for those driving or riding a motorbike to the southern tip of South America.

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