Puerto San Julian
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Puerto San Julian, Santa Cruz, Patagonia
A naturally formed harbor, Puerto San Julian is a small town in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz. The area carries a bit of historical interest to it, even more so than the surrounding areas, which have all also been inhabited by man for thousands of years. Set between Cabo Curioso (Cape Curious) and Punta Desengaño (Disillusion Point), it is ideally located among many of Santa Cruz’s other top destinations, making it a natural addition to any itinerary.
According to legend, the famous Portuguese explorer Magellan stopped at this port in 1520 to spend the winter, while in search of what would later be named the Magellan Strait. The locals that they found already inhabiting the land were described as “giants” by members of the crew, and their guanaco boots gave them the appearance of having unusually large feet. It was thus that the term patagonia was born, as they were called “patagonians” by the crew, which means “big feet” in Portuguese. Magellan and his crew eventually left the port, and over the next 300 years, different ships would stop here to spend the winter, including Charles Darwin and his expedition in 1834.
Today, the bay has been declared a provincial protected area because of its extreme ecological value, just one indicator of the natural beauty that awaits any visitor. It is an important stop along the Corredor de la Costa (Coastal Corridor), an important tourist circuit in Santa Cruz, which invites the tourist to choose his own itinerary. And touring the Circuito Costero, a 30-kilometer road along the coast, is an irresistible experience, with various panoramic lookout points.
The weather here is especially temperate, making it one of the more agreeable and flexible Patagonian destinations. The beaches are excellent, and the air is dry, with temperatures reaching 37º C in the summer, and only reaching as low as around 12º C in the winter. Rock paintings and petrified forests are among the highlighted attractions, along with the protected areas that are home to myriad marine species that are unique to this region of the world.
There are plenty of activities to keep any visitor busy, from relaxing walks through the natural beauty, to nautical excursions, to sport fishing, which is popular all over Patagonia. If you are interested in wildlife, especially in bird watching, you can go see the penguins, cormorants, and even toninas, a type of small dolphin, among many other fascinating animals.
The town itself is rather small, with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants. However, it still has plenty to offer the tourist, including boat excursions around the bay, which takes you to the Banco Cormorán, the Banco Justicia, and the Isla de los Pingüinos, where some 120,000 Magellan penguins live.
The town can be accessed along RN 25 and RN 3. For more information about traveling in Patagonia, see this Argentina Travel Guide.