Villa Las Estrellas has only 14 homes; one banker, a post office. a small school with a total of two teachers, a gym, a church, and a modest souvenir shop. Everything you’d expect from a typical tiny Chilean village—except this Chilean village is not in Chile, not even close.
Spanish for “Stars Town”, Villa Las Estrellas is a civilian settlement located in the unforgiving terrain of Antarctica, only one of two on the entire continent. Larger than its fellow colony Esperanza Base, Villa Las Estrellas has a population of just over 100 during the summer and even less once the winter winds begin to blow.
Despite the brutal landscape and isolated location, the settlement does enjoy a tourist season and offers snowmobile and ski expeditions as well as chance to catch a peek at all of the wonderful South Pole creatures from Emperor penguins to Killer whales. Nearby Bellingshausen offers opportunities to learn about polar auroras and glaciology. The town has a radio station, TV reception, and yes, even internet access, although it’s reserved for the school’s three computers.
It is now possible to visit this Chilean home away from home through various organized tours associated with cruise ships that travel through the area, and there is a small hostel with a 20 guest occupancy. The Correos de Chile post office is a favorite a must-visit location in the wee town—the opportunity to send postcards marked with an Antarctic postmark is too good to pass up.