Roughly entering Patagonia ! Choppy Ferries, Drinking Glaciers and EMERGENCY GAS !

Puerto Natales Travel Blog

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Hi all, well we headed off on the next leg of the journey into Patagonia on another night bus south from Santiago to a town called Puerto Montt, there is not a lot to see and do in this town, its just the kick off point to getting into Patagonia, and in our case the place we picked up the Navimag ferry that would take us south through the Patagonain fjords for three nights to Perto Natales.

Well as ever with night buses we arrived at stupid o clock in the morning again, to the cold , windy and very wet, grey town of Puerto Montt. We staggered along the quay past the not yet open artisan shops that are set up to catch all the tourists taking the ferry ( there is only one service so they have the monopoly on boat transport) down to the Navimag check in office which of course was closed ! We hung around for about an hour as it was warm and dry in the waiting room and at 9am , after the nice lady had finished her phone call ( the office was supposed to open at 8.30 we checked in and could ditch our luggage.

We had booked ourselves onto the cheapest seats possible on this four day extravaganza, in the C class, which essentially means cabins of 24 berths ( not too private) but a damn side cheaper than anything else ( though  still pricey for what it is !!.. but again.. monopoly) and the nice lady checked us in, changing our original cabin and bunk numbers .. hmm odd we thought , but did not have enough spanish to question, and as  she was smiling we thought we would trust her...

We then set off to get breakfast and learned in Chile, eggs coked in water does not mean poached or boiled, it means they crack the eggs into a glass, put it in a saucer of hot water and serve it virtually raw.. nice ! and did some shopping ( new gloves for H as it was really getting cold ) and some crisps, chocolate and booze ( mmm loverly booze.. 80 proof RON, which we think was rum), and some bottles of coke ( as we had ben told the bar on board was pricey) and then boarded the ferry at about 2pm. It was great, the "bunks" she had given us were in a seperate section on their own at the end, with a window, radiator, power the lot.. and virtually private !! WINNER ! ( for anyone reading this who is going, ask for berths 9-10 in whatever cabin ! so we were well chuffed. However the weater was against us and even though the seas were not too choppy  as we were still inland, it was grey and rainy and very cold so you could not go out much, let alone see the landscape. This is pretty much how it lasted for most of the trip, I won´t bore with too many details but will summarise below :

Day one - arrived, set off, crap weather, but the "crew" put on entertainment, so tonight was a chilean movie.. a period piece that went on forever, apparently had won some awards or something but was dull as ditchwater.. so we drunk some wine ( that we had also brought with us, a 2 lt carton of Gato negro.. nice) and went to bed.

Day 2 - weather still crap, but the food is ok, three squares a day and at breakfast they had individualy wrapped brownes that we stole pocketfuls of to keep us going through the day. We joined the "wildlife talk" given by "laughing boy" compare (boat entertainment organiser), the unfunniest man on the planet who was more intimidating than amusing.. but fortunalty fell into the " so crap he´s good" category...so kept us smiling..We did get a chance to see some wildlife this day , some little dolphins and pengins fleeing from the ferry, but to be honest the day comprised of eating, napping, reading, eating , napping etc... but the food was plentiful and my personal wine cellar was well stocked so it was ok. The afternoon movie was "motorcycle diaries" or MTV che as i liked to call it, and in the evening, the days highlight when we hit open sea and almost everone on the boat started throwing up !! I was ok, H slept through most of it, and it was amusing to see so many older americans hurling over the sides of the boat !

Day 3 - Hosah ! the weather had markedly improved and we could go on deck, and enjoy the brief pockets of sunshine ! we also hit the bar for the first time and met up ( via a conversation about chocolate) with a nice english couple called Chris and Natalie, and spent the afternoon drinking wine with them. In late afternoon we stopped of at glacier PIO XI, the biggest advancing glacier in the world, that was spectacular and the crew gathered some up to have in the cocktails for that evenings "party" ! The party was basically bingo and booze, We joined our swiss friends Chantal and Phillip, and some mad dutch people ( including a olympic silver medallist)and Evan from alaska for lots of pisco sour with glacial ice, Ron and coke and what everelse we could find. Laughing boy was the crap compare that kept us amused, but so much booze , mixed is never a good plan, and after the obligatory drunken dancing, argueing, making up etc we crashed out  !

Day 4 - our last day on the boat was not surprisingly,  quiet, but we all made it to breakfast :-) then more napping, then lunch.. etc you get the picture.. we offloaded into Puerto Natales at about 3pm. Its a nice town but windswept and we found our hostel no problem. The "erratic rock 1.5" was the annex to the "famous" erratic rock.. and by annex we mean old ladies house with no heating about 3 blocks away with none of the facilites of the actual erratic rock.. but we had a nice double room with lots of blankets so were ok !!

The overal impresion of the trip was that it was good, but not that good, and definalty not worth the cost. BUT we did get to meet some very nice people, ( who we would go onto trek with for the next week or so), ate a LOT of food and saw the PIO glacier that you cannot see any other way.. so I was content ! ( think Patagonian Butlins and you will be close !)

The next day we had our first "reservations" error.( more to come ..), they had double booked the room we were in so we graciously moved into the triple next door , no problem, except that while we were out,  the new guests arrived and there were three of them, so they moved all our stuff off our spare bed to put it into the double room !! what the F*ck !! so we were not too pleased about that, but what the hell.. That afternoon we went back to Erratic rock to have the free talk about Torres del Paine, the big chilian trekking location, which was excellent and told you all you needed to know to do the trek on your own. Here we saw Chris and Natale, Philipp and Chantal and Evan again and it became clear we all had the same plan and would be trekking on and off with each other for the next few days ! after the talk there was a mad rush to buy supplies ( and in our case .. a tent !!) and we kept seeing all the same people in the "dried food " aisles of the supermarkets stocking up on 3 minute noodles, pasta and porridge oats etc etc!!

The only real problem we had with the preparation was camping gas ! Everone had the same type of stove, but the whole town was out of gas ! arrgghh, this was actually more stressfull than you think, and we kept meeting the same people all hunting for gas and being promised a delivery would be made at 6pm.. 7 pm.. 8pm etc etc.. Basically without gas you cannot travel ( its cold on the trek and you need hot food !), so the bus tickets we had all bought would be useless etc etc.. Eventually, we met Philipp and Chantal and thought f*ck it, lets have a beer and while eating beer and Pizza we kept popping out to the camping shop over the road until FINALLY at about 10pm we laid our hands on the precoius cannisters. "the precious.. the precious ... gollum.. " (by this time also joined by Evan, Chris and Natalie) and we were finally prepared for the 5 day trek called the BIG W that we would set off upon on the morrow !

More to follow, including why my facebook profile picture changed to Quasimodo for a while.. but until then.. caio caio..

M&H. xxx

 

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Puerto Natales
photo by: scacos2006