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Puerto Santa Cruz

Juan Serrano, captain of Nao Santiago in Magellan's exploratory fleet, landed on these beaches on May 3, 1520, and called it Santa Cruz for the religious feast of that day. Three centuries later, in 1862, two Anglican missionaries arrived from Malvinas to convert the Aónikenk indigenous. The churchmen set up the first settlement in the area at Cañadón de los Misioneros, four kilometers (2.4 mi) from the present town. The city itself was founded December 1, 1878, by Comodoro Luis Py and was the first capital of the Territorio de Santa Cruz until the seat was moved to Río Gallegos in 1888.

It is worth taking a detour off Ruta Nacional 3 to visit this historic city surrounded by bountiful nature. Iglesia Exultación de la Santa Cruz was one of the first brick buildings erected in this port. The temple was designed in 1909 by Salesian Padre Juan Bernabé, who was also responsible for the church in Río Gallegos. Inside is an Italian-made crucifix whose Christ has movable limbs, said to be one of only two in the world. The temple's bells, clock and stained glass also hail from Italy. Museo Regional Carlos Borgialli is a museum covering the town’s ethnic history from original indigenous inhabitants to colonists. It also displays flora, fauna and marine fossils (Roca and 9 de Julio, Tel.: 49-8301, E-mail: More about Puerto Santa Cruz’ history may be learned at Museo Casa de los Pioneros situated in a period-furnished house of typical Patagonian architecture dating from 1915 (Avenida Piedra Buena and Williams).

Down at seaside is Paseo Costero where you can practice water sports like canoeing, water ski and sailing. Or simply take a stroll along this coastal walkway to watch the multitudes of birds and toninas overas (Commerson's Dolphin Cephalorhynchus commersonii) visiting these shores. Punta Quilla, or Keel Point, 17 kilometers (10 mi) east of the city, is on a 25-kilometer (15 mi) long ría whose waters change throughout the day. This deep-water port owes its name to the fact that The Beagle's keel was repaired here in 1832. A mere 2.5 kilometers (1.5 mi) away is Pingüinera Punta Entrada, a Magellan Penguin colony of 25,000 nesting couples. The main natural attraction is Parque Nacional Monte León (45 km /27 mi south). This national coastal-marine park has large colonies of lobo marino de un pelo (South American sea lion, Otaria flavescens) and Pingüino de Magallanes (Magellanic Penguin, Spheniscus magellanicus).

Sport fishers can join in the Fiesta Provincial del Róbalo (Provincial Festival of Sea Bass) the first half of each February. (The exact dates depend on the tides.) Aside from the fishing competition, the festival also features music, dancing and other cultural events.


Oficina de Turismo has information about area attractions (Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-8 p.m., in high season daily 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Avenida Piedra Buena 534, Tel.: 49-8301, E-mail:, URL: For information about Parque Nacional Monte León, drop by the Intendencia del Parque Monte León (Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. San Martin 112, Tel.: 49-8184, E-mail: monteLeó, URL: / The city also has all the necessary services, including police (Moreno 402, Tel.: 49-8111), post office (Belgrano 177), Telefónica for phone calls (Belgrano 460), several internet cafés, Banco de la Nación Argentina (9 de Julio and Moreno) and Banco Santa Cruz (Avenida Piedra Buena 298), both with ATM, a hospital (Williams 430, Tel.: 49-8310), a pharmacy and several laundries.


Asociación de Guías Zona Centro (E-mail:

Kimirik Aike (San Martin 560, Tel.: 49-8375 / 02966-1562-5763, E-mail: – city tour, Isla Pavón (Piedra Buena), Parque Nacional Monte León, Pingüinera Punta Entrada


Prices increase in the summer high season.

Camping Municipal (entrance to village, Tel.: 49-8202)

Monte León (San Juan 432, Tel.: 49-8358) – single $13-16, double $20-23

Hostería Municipal (25 de Mayo 645, Tel.: 49-8202, E-mail: – single $16, double $23-29

ApartHotel Kawo (Balestra 468, Tel.: 49-8037, E-mail:, URL: – single $63, double $86-108; includes breakfast


La Ría (Avenida Piedra Buena 650)

La Rueda (Roca and Bosco, Tel.: 49-8757)

Los Vascos (9 de Julio 331, Tel.: 49-8265)

(Altitude: 0 m / 0 ft, Population: 3397, Phone Code: 02962)


Other places nearby Puerto Santa Cruz: Trelew, Puerto San Julián , San Antonio Oeste , Bahía San Blas , Río Gallegos, Cabo Dos Bahías And Parque Marítimo Costero Patagonia Austral, Dolavon, Puerto Madryn, Piedra Buena and Península Valdés.

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

02 Oct 2009

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