Puerto Natales is a city in Chilean Patagonia. It is the capital of both the commune of Natales and the province of Última Esperanza, one of the four provinces that make up the Magallanes and Antartica Chilena Region in the southernmost part of Chile. Puerto Natales is the only city in the province it is located 247 km (153 mi) lying northwest of Punta Arenas. It is the final passenger port of call for the Navimag ferry sailing from Puerto Montt into the Señoret Channel as well as the primary transit point for travellers to Torres del Paine National Park, Chile.
It is located at the opening of Última Esperanza Sound and was originally inhabited by the Kawésqar or Alacaluf people and the Aoniken or Tehuelche people. The first European to discover the area where the city is located was Juan Ladrillero, a Spanish exploerer who was looking for the Strait of Magellan's western passage in 1557. Almost losing his religion, when he finds a narrow passage (what nowadays is known as Señoret Channel) continues sailing across what he thought was the Strait. Unfortunately, he discovers it is an inlet he named as Seno de Última Esperanza, translated as Last Hope Sound.
The city was later settled by European immigrants, primarily Germans, British, including English, Welsh and Scots, Croats, Greeks, Italians and Spaniards. It was then settled by Chilean people, with a substantial number coming from the island of Chiloé, all attracted by the sheep breeding industry.
The city was formally founded under the government of Ramón Barros Luco on May 31, 1911. Nowadays, one of its most important industries is tourism although the cattle and aquaculture industries are also significant.
Torres del Paine National Park (Spanish: Parque Nacional Torres del Paine) is a national park encompassing mountains, glaciers, lakes, and rivers in southern Chilean Patagonia. The Cordillera del Paine is the centerpiece of the park. It lies in a transition area between the Magellanic subpolar forests and the Patagonian Steppes. The park is located 112 km (70 mi) north of Puerto Natales and 312 km (194 mi) north of Punta Arenas. The park borders Bernardo O'Higgins National Park to the west and the Los Glaciares National Park to the north in Argentine territory.Paine means "blue" in the native Tehuelche (Aonikenk) language and is pronounced PIE-nay.
Torres del Paine National Park is part of the Sistema Nacional de Áreas Silvestres Protegidas del Estado de Chile(National System of Protected Forested Areas of Chile). In 2003, it measured approximately 242,242 hectares. It is one of the largest and most visited parks in Chile. The park averages around 150,000 visitors a year, of which 60% are foreign tourists,who come from all over the world.
The park is one of the 11 protected areas of the Magallanes Region and Chilean Antarctica (together with four national parks, three national reserves, and three national monuments). Together, the protected forested areas comprise about 51% of the land of the region (6,728,744 hectares).
The Torres del Paine are the distinctive three granite peaks of the Paine mountain range or Paine Massif. They extend up to 2,500 meters above sea level, and are joined by the Cuernos del Paine. The area also boasts valleys, rivers such as the Paine, lakes, and glaciers. The well-known lakes include Grey, Pehoé, Nordenskiöld, and Sarmiento. The glaciers, including Grey, Pingo and Tyndall, belong to the Southern Patagonia Ice Field.
According to the Köppen climate classification, the park lies in the “temperate climate of cold rain without a dry season." The meteorological conditions of the park are variable due to the complex orography.
The zone is characterized by cool summers, with temperatures lower than 16 °C (61 °F) during the warmest month (January).
Winter is relatively cold, with an average high temperature in July of 5 °C (41 °F), and an average low of −3 °C (27 °F).
The rainiest months are March and April, with a monthly average rainfall of 80 mm.
This represents double the July–October (winter) rainfall, which are the drier months.
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