How Explorers House Elevates Our Expedition Experience

Jaime Vásquez, President of Antarctica21, and Andrea Tellez, Manager of Explorers House, led the project taking Explorers House from an idea to reality. Here they share some of their thoughts on the project.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

When you first land in Punta Arenas —a port town situated on the Strait of Magellan in the southernmost realms of Chilean Patagonia — you’ve officially arrived at the Chilean gateway to the Antarctic continent. This captivating town is known for its history and rich cultural heritage, nearby natural attractions, and now Explorers House, the latest addition to our Air-Cruise expeditions experience.

With the feel of a private member’s club, when you first enter the split-level structure to an expansive reception area, you’re warmly greeted by our team. You are then invited to the ground-floor lounge, where you can enjoy plush seating in spacious areas to sip a coffee or a drink, or share a meal with fellow travelers. You can also find a secluded nook in the library where you have access to a collection of books about Tierra del Fuego and Antarctica, covering a variety of topics.

The first floor lounge and bar at Explorers House. Photo by Tere Pérez.

The first-floor lounge and bar at Explorers House. Photo by Tere Pérez.

Prior to your Antarctic expedition, you can visit the second floor to engage with educational and instructive content through interactive touchscreens and make use of the theatre-style presentation room where welcome talks, briefing sessions, and programming regarding science, history, and expedition preparation take place.

Andrea Tellez, Manager of Explorers House, works to ensure that this unique project enhances your adventure as you travel to the icy wilderness of Antarctica.

“We’ve always dreamed of welcoming our guests at a cozy retreat when they arrive after a long journey from their origin countries. With Explorers House, we have created a functional and inspiring place for our travelers, a comfortable sanctuary to feel at home as they prepare for their Antarctic expedition,” says Andrea.

Interactive touch screens can be found at Explorers House so guests can learn more about Antarctica before their voyage. Photo by Tere Pérez.

Interactive touch screens can be found at Explorers House so guests can learn more about Antarctica before their voyage. Photo by Tere Pérez.

The Magallanes Region beckons travelers from every corner of the world, mainly seasonal travelers. During the Austral summer, Punta Arenas gets very busy as adventurers visit the windy city, filling its hotels, restaurants, and cafes. It is a jumping-off point for journeys to iconic destinations like Tierra del Fuego, Cape Horn, Torres del Paine National Park, and Antarctica.

Being a small, remote city with seasonal variations, it offers limited facilities and options, especially for travelers who expect more comfort and service.

‘’As Antarctica21 grew, we began thinking of a space in Punta Arenas where we could welcome our guests, matching the experience and elegance of our ships. We decided to create a space of our own,’’ explains Jaime Vasquéz, Co-founder and President of Antarctica21.

This vision came to life when Antarctica21 found the perfect location: a heritage building in the very heart of Punta Arenas. After purchasing the property and restoring the wooden structure — used to process and export wool in the early 20th century — the building now offers a contemporary refuge amidst the wilds of Chilean Patagonia.

As you explore the Chilean Patagonia, you are met with wide-open dramatic landscapes, colonial towns, and villages with a long ranching history. ‘’I am from Magallanes. This is my home. I come from a ranching family,’’ Jaime Vasquéz explains, ‘’To bring this centenarian heritage building back to life and contribute to this city and region brings me a lot of personal pride and satisfaction. There is history behind Explorers House and the experiences I have lived my whole life. Now, the building has a new life, and its spirit is shared with visitors.’’

Explorers House harmoniously blends the original historical structure and a new contemporary style. Photo by Tere Pérez.

Explorers House harmoniously blends the original historical structure and a new contemporary style. Photo by Tere Pérez.

“This beautiful building carries the legacy of the early pioneers who traveled from afar to make Patagonia their home. For much of the previous century, the wool sheared from sheep raised in the steppes and grassland of this region passed through this building,” says Andrea. “Surrounded by lanolin-covered wooden pillars and beams, in view of the imposing wool presses that dominate the building, our guests feel an emotional connection to the history and culture of these remote lands,“ she notes.

One of the innovative features of Explorers House is the sustainable practices woven into the project. For energy efficiency, 18 cm (7 in) of insulation has been added to the outside of the building. Solar panels on the roof provide energy to the building and heat to the radiant floors to keep the space warm. Outside, water tanks collect rainwater that is then used in the restrooms.

‘’Although the central purpose is to use Explorers House during the Antarctic air-cruise season, we also plan to make this space available to the community,’’ Jaime explains, ‘’We would like to use this space during the off-season for art, culture, and educational events.’’ Among the projects available for the public to enjoy is one for the Antarctica21 Foundation. In the works is the ‘’Antarctic Tunnel,’’ where visitors will be able to walk through the third floor and have a visual experience of Antarctica. It is one of the many projects the company has planned for the future.

The amphitheater-style presentation room can host up to 100 guests for welcome talks and pre-departure briefing sessions. Photo by Tere Pérez.

The amphitheater-style presentation room can host up to 100 guests for welcome talks and pre-departure briefing sessions. Photo by Tere Pérez.

The Antarctica21 team conceived Explorers House as a retreat, a comfortable place where you can feel at home while enjoying exclusive and reliable access to Antarctica21’s hospitality and a variety of services. Explorers House also ensures that the Antarctica21 team has access to a spacious, well-designed space to deliver all the pre-departure processes. Here, you are inspired with a sense of adventure and better prepared for your Antarctic journey.

Are you ready to book your big adventure? Learn more about our air-cruises here!

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