Villa Ponsomby–Río Verde is the capital of the Río Verde municipality, located approximately 56 miles northwest of Punta Arenas, on the shores of the Skyring Sound. It’s a cattle farming town, bordered by the Fitz Roy Channel and the Otway Sound.

Cowboys long called the area «The Northern Cowshed,» a reference to the large number of cows that wandered off their farms in the area and began roaming free. Later, the area was named after the river that winds through the region. The well-known explorer Robert Fitz Roy chose the name Villa Ponsomby to honor Williams Ponsomby for his important role in the Battle of Waterloo.

Lodging, Food, and Activities

Region

Río Verde

Province

Magallanes

Population

617

Climate and Rainfall

Cold Steppe, 17 inches annually

Nearest National Park(s)

Kawésqar National Park

Torres del Paine National Park

Don’t Miss

  • Visit Estancia Fitz Roy, located on the shores of Isla Riesco and 57 miles from Punta Arenas, to learn about the traditions of the Magellanic countryside.
  • Explore Isla Riesco to bird watch and spot a huge diversity of marine and land wildlife. You can also take part in various rural tourism activities offered by locals.
  • Fish for sport in the Grande and Pérez Rivers.
  • Visit Ñandú Park, located 34 miles from Punta Arenas.
  • Go to the largest Condor colony in the area, where you can see 60–100 condors. It’s located at Estancia Olga Teresa.
  • Visit Estancia Río Verde, halfway between Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales, to live the authentic Magellanic steppe experience.
  • The second Sunday in January, more than 4,000 people complete a pilgrimage from Punta Arenas to the Virgin of Montserrat, one of the most important religious festivals in the region.
  • Visit Sutivan Ranch, on the shores of Otway Sound.

How to get

Take Route 9 north (toward Puerto Natales) and, after around 30 miles, merge left onto Route Y-50. At mile 25 (kilometer 40), you’ll arrive at Villa Ponsomby, the only town along the route, where you can take the ferry to the Río Verde Municipality. From there, you can cross the Fitz Roy Channel and arrive at Isla Riesco.

Transportes Ruiz offers routes from Punta Arenas, beginning at the rural bus stop along Calle República, at the intersection of Avenida España and Armando Sanhueza. In Río Verde at Villa Ponsomby, the buses leave from the Passengers’ Terminal. Check schedules at
www.rioverde.cl/transporte

Trips across the Fitz Roy Channel, from Río Verde to Isla Riesco, run daily from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. The trip takes 3–5 minutes. Find out more at: tabsa.cl/cruce-isla-riesco

Various airlines offer daily flights to Punta Arenas, and LATAM Airlines offers direct flights to Puerto Natales during tourist high season. Dap Airlines offers twice-weekly flights between Balmaceda and Punta Arenas.

The direct flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas takes 3.5 hours.

Tips

  • In Villa Ponsomby, you can find the Río Verde municipality, the rural health center, a school, a library, the municipal housing, and a grocery store and café that will open soon.
  • There’s no «Caja Vecina» (rural bank service); the nearest is in Villa Tehuelche (Laguna Blanca).
  • There’s no pharmacy in town.
  • Villa Ponsomby has a bus terminal offering routes running to Punta Arenas and to the ferry to Isla Riesco. The terminal also has an information and tourist center, bathrooms, showers, a café, and Internet. Find out more about its hours of operation at: http://www.rioverde.cl/newsite/turismo/transporte.
  • There are a variety of options for lodging and rural tourism activities in the area. Find out more at: http://www.rioverde.cl/newsite/turismo/alojamiento.
  • The median annual temperature in the area is between 43.7 degrees Fahrenheit and 45 degrees Fahrenheit.

Basic Services

  • Rural Health Services
  • Bike Repair Shop
  • Cell Service
  • Visitor’s Center

Visitor’s Center

Address: Mile 25.3 (kilometer 40.7), Route Y-50
Phone: (+56) 9-74912592 / (+56) 61-2-311125
Open: 08:00–13:00 / 14:15–17:00 (open year-round)

Important Dates

In December, the community celebrates its anniversary.
In January, there’s an Enduro competition in the area.
In February, the Virgin of Montserrat procession is held at the waterfall.

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