Puerto Natales

Trip Start Apr 08, 2012
Trip End Sep 25, 2012

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Flag of Chile  , Magallanes y Antártica Chilena,
Friday, April 13, 2012

One good thing about Patagonia is the lack of mosquitoes. Several were trapped in my room in Buenos Aires and I have a ridiculous amount of itchy bites all over my arms and people look at me like I have a disease when I'm scratching everywhere.

Driving up to Puerto Natales, I saw a surprising amount of wildlife for such a desolate looking landscape and the bitter cold. Since my arrival on the continent I have seen 19 new species of birds - 10 minutes ago this list was about 4 but I finally found a decent bird book.
Sadly I missed the unsigned turnoff to the penguins but they are a similar species to the one found in South Africa so it's not a big loss and I can try again on the way back down. And I found some Chilean Flamingos to make up for it (for the non-birders who could care less about this, deal with it). I also saw several Rheas which are a bit like an Emu.
 I first saw the black-necked swans when I arrived in Puerto Natales. At first my reaction was "awesome!" but then I realised that they are like impala. 
The first time you see them, you have unbridled excitement but then you keep seeing them... and keep seeing them and then they're just there and you might occasionally, if subtly, take yet another photograph of them. 
So these swans are everywhere, but still cool.
I've also seen 4 new mammal species; Patagonian or grey foxes abound in the barren landscape between Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales. I also found a few groups of Guanacos which are rather silly looking, but cute.

This afternoon I saw European Hares and a Patagonian hog-nosed skunk. (I seem to attract skunks because I saw 4 in a few weeks in the Kgalagadi when the other guide had only ever seen 1 in 2 years.)
I also saw a lot of sheep.

The thing I'm finding most difficult about being in Chile is the money. When I was booking a hotel I saw the price was 24000 pesos. My first reaction was horror, but when I went to convert it I saw that the Chilean peso is worth very, very little. 
$1 = 484 pesos.
So in my wallet I have 10000 peso bills, and coins worth 500.
I'm used to being able to just divide the cost by a relatively small number to get the price in dollars but that's not easy to do with 484. 
Which means I rarely have any idea how much I am spending.

Tomorrow I am off to Torres del Paine National Park and after staring at the snow-tipped mountains in the distance I can hardly wait. I expect to return with a ridiculous amount of photographs.
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