Villa Las Estrellas is one of only two places claimed by the country maintaining them to be civilian settlements on Antarctica, the other being Esperanza (administered by Argentina). The town is located on King George Island, just off the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula, and it is part of the Chilean base Presidente Eduardo Frei.
This place is maintained as a "civilian settlement" mostly because Chile claims part of Antarctica as its territory and has in the past even flown in pregnant women to have their children born there. Argentina has pulled similar stunts at their "settlement" of Esperanza Base for similar reasons and also to upstage their neighbor and sometime rival. For travelers, the benefit of all this is that it is comparatively easier to get into Villa las Estrellas than into other points on the continent. The settlement's population ranges from 120 people in the summer to about 80 during the Antarctic winter. It is primarily a supply hub for different research bases around the continent.
|Villa Las Estrellas|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
South Shetland Islands are among the warmest regions of Antarctica. Due to the oceanic influence, the difference between summer and winter on the one and night and day on the other hand is also a lot less notable than on more inland locations in Antarctica.
- 1 Teniente R. Marsh Airport (TNM IATA). the only airport with an IATA code on the continent. Flights are mostly from the city of Punta Arenas, operated by the commercial airline Aerovias DAP. There are also flights to other research bases around the continent. Prices are very high and the number of flights are very limited. The flights can often be cancelled or delayed for many days due to poor weather conditions.
With only 14 houses, the town is extremely small, and can be easily traversed on foot.
- 1 Trinity Chapel. One of the seven religious buildings on Antarctica, this ortodox church is built with Siberian pine and transported here in the 1990s to serve personel at the nearby Russian research base.
- Send a post card and get it stamped with a true Antarctic postmark. A branch of the Chilean postal service exists in the town, which stamps letters with an Antarctic postmark before sending them.
- A Souvenir Shop operates in the town, run by the local women.
There is a grocery store.
- 1 Hostel Polestar (Hostería "Estrella Polar"). One of few accommodation options for tourists wishing to stay in Antarctica. Basic hostel with room for 20 people.
The local school has three computers equipped with satellite Internet connections, and the Chilean telecommunications company Entel PCS has a mobile phone antenna on-site. A coin-operated payphone is also located in the centre of town for the inhabitants of the sector.
FM Radio "Sovereignty", on the frequency of 90.5 MHz, works during the day providing music and information to all the bases in the sector. There are also certain cultural and entertainment programs, made by staff and their families. The town has a fixed dish of 2.5 meters in diameter as well; it allows reception of the main television channels in the country, from Santiago. These are Televisión Nacional and Universidad Católica Television.
- 1 Artigas Base is only a few miles away and is a Uruguay-run base named after the country's national hero José Gervasio Artigas. The Artigas Base depends on the Uruguayan Antarctic Institute Plans & Operations Direction, which is ruled by an Interministerial Council. Uruguay, a Consultative member of Antarctic Treaty since 7 October 1985, has a permanent, active and autonomous activity as a National Governmental Program in Antarctic. A ship and seven intercontinental flights visit the base each season.
From Villa Las Estrellas, try joining an organized tour to the South Pole or head to Esperanza Base on the Antarctic Peninsula. Another option is to visit Port Lockroy, a popular Antarctic tourist destination.