Puerto Natales is the capital of the Province of Última Esperanza (Last Hope). The city was founded in 1911 on a gently sloping point on the inlet of Última Esperanza. With excellent tourism facilities, it has become the base for excursions to the Torres del Paine National Park, Bernardo O’Higgins National Park and the Cueva del Milodon (Milodon Cave).
The Province where Puerto Natales is located received the name Última Esperanza from the sailor Juan Ladrilleros, who was seeking the Strait of Magellan in the year 1557. It was his “last hope” to find the Strait after exploring the maze of channels between the waters of the Pacific and the mainland.
It was not until three centuries later, in 1830, that another major expedition sailed through the fjords and channels of Última Esperanza. This was the British expedition of the frigate HMS Beagle. Some the expeditioners (Robert FitzRoy, William Skyring and James Kirke) and their higher officers are remembered by several place-names in the area. Vice-Admiral Fitzroy was the captain during the Second voyage of HMS Beagle (1831–1836).