Into Chile

Trip Start Jul 02, 2009
Trip End Jun 28, 2010

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Flag of Chile  , Patagonia,
Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I returned to Calafate for the night after the day trip to El El Chaltén and early the next day travelled over the Andes to Puerto Natales (thankfully on a bus and without the Uruguayan rugby team for company).  Here are some pics taken en route and at the rest stop.  I recall the journey taking about five hours and   some of the route was not asphalted.  You can see what this does for the longevity of bus windscreens and I couldn't help wondering what vehicle has to do in order to fail its MOT in this part of the world.

Puerto Natales is in a very scenic location although the town itself is of a most unremarkable aspect.  Here a views from my room and looking down a street.  I'd been in town for less than an hour when I first encountered Chile's national hero.  The town also has a sculpture depicting the last nanoseconds of Titanic's Jack Dawson.

People don't go to Puerto Natales to admire the architecture.  The town is a gateway to the world famous Torres del Paine National Park.  I wasn't really set up for trekking and only did a day trip.  However, you can find out what the trekking there is like by reading about the adventures of this intrepid traveller (the anti-Imelda?) who discarded her boots because it was all just too easy. Here are some pics taken on the way in.

We made a pit stop in the park where I found this wonderfully un-PC sign designating the disabled toilet.  I was soon also able to get a couple pics of indigenous fauna.

There were a couple more stops before lunch with plenty of excellent scenery.  Here is a sampling of what was on offer.


Lunch was taken after two and I grabbed a table with a view since I'd taken the DIY lunch option.  Then it was off to the take a look at the the lake that was top be the last attraction for the day.  The lake appeared to be glacier-fed (the presence of icebergs was a bit of a giveaway) and there was  a sign (presumably left over from the Pinochet era when just about everything was verboten) saying that I wasn't allowed to swim.  Not that I'd been planning to swim since I normally avoid this activity when there is any risk at all of colliding with icebergs.

This was also the stop on which I indulged in what in game theory is called 'tit-for-tat'.  At every stop so far, I'd dutifully returned to the bus at the appointed time only to stand around waiting for others who did not.  I'm proud to say that I was the last one back on the bus and greatly enjoyed the filthy looks from some of the formerly tardy that greeted my return.  


We dropped off some folk at the Hotel Altiplánico which looks like a great (although not cheap) place to stay.  They have grass growing on the roof which you can't really see in my pic.  The next day featured a boat trip into the Bernardo O'Higgins National Park and we encountered these cave-dwelling seals before we'd even entered the park.  Perhaps they would not have stuck around for pics if they'd known that I have Canadian cousins... 

I don't think I'd ever seen wateralls finishing up in the sea before.  There a number of these on this trip and I also saw a couple of waterfalls where the water was being blown (it was quite windy) back and prevented from falling.   We passed this glacier which at one time used to come down alll the way to the sea.   We also went ashore to view a lake and the glacier that fed it.

Then it was time for lunch at a farm on the coast.  The food was excellent although vegetarians might have struggled a bit.


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