Private Tour of Fuerte Bulnes
Tour Participation Requirements
John Williams Wilson was a native Englishman looking for adventure. He found it in Chile. In 1818, he first visited the country when delivering the ship Lucy, one of the first sailing vessels purchased by the fledgling Chilean Navy. Whether it was the challenge of being part of a new endeavor, or falling in love with Micaela Rebolledo, the Chilean he would marry, Wilson stayed and joined the Chilean Navy himself, changing his name to Juan Guillermos. He then had a lifetime of sailing feats, capped by what he did in 1843.
That was the year that Chile wanted to assert control over the Strait of Magellan, located at the tip of South America, before France or England took it over. This area connected the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and was considered a safer way to circumnavigate the globe than the nearby Drake Passage. So Guillermos was asked to get a ship together, gather some colonists, and establish Chilean sovereignty over the area. He had the schooner Ancud built, gathered a crew of 21 men and two women, and brought aboard live animals (along with some wine and rum). The ship sailed for four months to the Strait, arriving not a moment too soon.
The very day after Guillermos unleashed a 21-gun salute and captured the Strait of Magellan for Chile, a French frigate arrived, sniffing around the area. Too late for them. Guillermos and his crew established Fuerte Bulnes at Santa Ana Point, using logs and adobe bricks for building. But maybe the joke was on his crew after all. Both climate and land were inhospitable to humans. So in 1848, the colony was moved to Sandy Point, aka Punta Arenas, a more inhabitable area about 45 miles north. Fuerte Bulnes was first abandoned, then eventually set on fire and destroyed.
But that's not the end of the story. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sailing of the Ancud, Chile rebuilt the fort between 1941 and 1943, using the original drawings and the same types of building materials. From the church to the crews' quarters to even the rebuilt jail, this historically accurate reconstruction of Fuerte Bulnes gives visitors a real sense of what it was like to live in this desolate part of the world back then.
What a puzzle
Travel back in time to 1843 and experience what colonial life was like in Fuerte Bulnes. Native flora and fauna, including the many birds and ducks in the area, add to the authenticity, as does the strange monkey puzzle tree. Araucaria araucana, a Chilean pine tree, has branches that look like angry green arms. The ancient tree, considered a living fossil, got its name from the idea that it would puzzle a monkey to climb it. The tree's current puzzle: how to grow more of them to get it off the endangered list.
Full refunds issued for cancellations made 7 full days prior to the date and time of requested services. Cancellations made within the 7-day and 72-hour window will receive a 50% refund of purchase total. Purchases are non-refundable inside of 72 hours.