The name Puerto Almanza suggests a – whether or not – bustling port on the Tierra del Fuego coast. In real life Almanza has a rather ramshackle jetty and a handful of small, yellow fisher boats and the permanent residency is under 20. However, it hosts both the prefecture and the Argentine Navy. Two cannons on the coastline are a reminder of more turbulent times, when Argentina was in (yet another) conflict with Chile. Both cannons are – still – aimed at Puerto Williams, Almanza’s closest neighbor just opposite the Beagle Channel.
Today Puerto Almanza is just a tiny hamlet along the road K which turns off from the road J. It’s just this gravel road, a few houses along one side, a few hovels made of wood, metal plates and rest materials that seem to withstand the Patagonian winds, many friendly dogs that will walk you and 24 hour street lighting. The road K continues another 20 kilometers to the Estancia Remolinos, which is on private navy terrain. Or, for a (multi-day) road trip along the ruta J, from Almanza head further on the road J passing estancia Harberton and keep going till Moat. That’s where the road ends.
Puerto Almanza is small and unpretentious, but well worth a visit for its tranquility and very early summer sunrises and beautiful sunsets that gives the cliffs a golden color and the sky all tints of purple, orange and red. Most likely, on a long summer day trip you’ll miss both. No worries, take a walk along the shore, get loads of fresh air, look for shells on the beaches with driftwood and sea birds, watch the movement in the harbor (if any) and have an excellent fresh plate of king crab (centolla) or seafood (mariscos) at one of the two restaurants in town. Just take it easy and enjoy the natural beauty and wildness of this friendly place. The coast can be wild here, the spring and summer flowers lovely and the light magnificent. What more do you need?
For excellent seafood or a coffee with cake in a homely atmosphere I recommend La Mesita de Almanza, which is at the first house you’ll see coming from Ushuaia/estancia Harberton. It usually only opens on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for lunch and Argentinian merienda (afternoon coffee). Make reservations via their Facebook page, they’re small and deservedly popular! Be sure to say hi to the owners from the redhead-hiking-crazy-Dutch girl.