Chaitén & Puerto Raúl Marin, Patagonia, Chile

This started with a 10 hour journey via bus and transport ferry. I can imagine you thinking “boring”. On the contrary. It was exhilarating. This part of our journey will be filled with scenic views and close encounters with dolphins.

We went to the supermarket to stock up on food for the journey. A full hot cooked chicken, stripped off the bone and divided into two tubs, carrot batons, roasted peanuts with raisins and 2 bottles of water. This should see us through until we arrive at our destination in 10 hours time. Maybe a quick meat empanada for lunch as well haha.

This was our journey heading South….yellow is roads (coach) blue is ferry.

We boarded the bus in Puerto Montt and after going through valleys and passing eye catching coastlines we reached the end of the road…literally. We had to board a transport ferry. The bay that we boarded in was surrounded by the lush green mountain range, The Andes.

We saw seals swimming in the sea and felt the cool breeze mixed with warming rays of the sun, against our faces. Wow! 30 minutes later we were back on the bus for an hour and a half until we reached a place called Hornopiren. We had an hour and a half stopover to take photos and explore. Bloody hell! They could have chosen somewhere more scenic to stop. 😂. The first one is a shorter video so click on the arrow.

We sat taking in the views whilst enjoying an ice cold Cola light. We’ve been doing well recently and not been snacking between meals so we can see we have lost weight. I said to him “I won’t be able to call you a fat git soon”. “No” he said “and I won’t call you one either. You’ll just still be a dumpy, rotund, ugly git” 😕. He winked and slid over on the bench to put his arm round me and kiss my cheek. “Oo your arms are cold” he said “that’s probably because they’re so big that it takes the sun longer to warm them! Unlike me who has ‘guns’. ” haha GUNS “more like water pistols” I shot back at him…..show us your “guns” Kev 😉.

We boarded the bus and carried on our journey for about 10 minutes, to the next ferry crossing. This was even better. For 3.5 hours we were stood on the deck taking in the heady sites of mountains topped with snow or densely covered with green trees, waterfalls, and all the time the sun is glistening on the sea. I was in heaven.

The one below is a video. Click on the arrow to view

A 15 minute journey on the bus and the road came to an end yet again. We boarded our 3rd and final ferry for 30 mins before we began another scenic drive to our destination of Chaitén.

We arrived at dusk (9pm) to a little town that time had forgotten.

Chaitén had been evacuated in 2008 due to a volcano eruption that covered the whole place in ash. The government decided to “close” the town. They switched off all facilities, gas, electric etc and people made their lives somewhere else. Some went to Buenos Aires, some even got to Africa. The odd few decided to return and try to rebuild the town. It’s like a shanty town but it has character. The houses are run down, the streets are empty, the beach has now become a graveyard for trees and debris from the devastation of the volcano. Although it’s not a place we’d like to live in, the scenery is stunning. The sun wasn’t out but it didn’t take anything away from the natural beauty.

Below is another video. Click/press on the arrow.

We’d got chicken and carrot batons left from our journey yesterday so we took them with us, along with a few crackers and some Gouda cheese. We sat alone on a pebbled beach watching birds diving for fish in the calm sea whilst eating our lunch.

It started to rain so we headed back to our cheap little hostel. Hospedaje Rita. Not the greatest place but with only 24 hours notice it was the best we could do! 😂. We’re getting used to these “boutique” hostels now. Nothing much phases us.

2 nights was enough here, it was overcast then started to rain. The only thing we could do was climb a glacier but with my arthritic knees there wasn’t a chance I could ascend that. We are following the famous Chilean road “Careterra Austral, Ruta 7” (like the American Route 66). We planned to get a bus to Coyhaique but only found out when we arrived in Chaitén that a mountain had collapsed, due to an earth tremor in December last year, and the road we needed to travel on was closed! Our only other option was to get a 7 hour ferry to Puerto Raúl Marin.

We visited the tourist office and the guy spoke perfect English. He advised us that if we still had our tickets from the day before for the ferry, we could get the next ferry for free! 😁 This was being offered due to the road being closed. Luckily Kev had kept them….bonus 😉. Only trouble was we couldn’t find any accommodation, so it was going to be a case of turning up and seeing what we could find. There was only 3 hostels and the area was very remote so we’d be lucky to find anywhere. The guide books promise, seals, dolphins, penguins so we’re staying there even if we have to crash in a bus shelter 😂.

We were back on the hostel early on our last night. The temperature had dropped so the host had put a lovely oil filled heater on to warm us up. We couldn’t waste the heat. We went into our room and I got my wet socks out, that I’d hand washed in the morning, and Kev got his coat that’d he’d worn in the rain, and his hanky. Time to dry them before we leave. 😂

As soon as people saw us doing it, we noticed someone else bring their wet clothes out to dry. I’d left my wet briefs drying over the curtain rail in our bedroom. Don’t think anyone would want to see them drying in the communal lounge! 😷

I got onto the Internet and found a small hostel I liked the sound of in Raúl Marin. I tried emailing and contacting via Facebook, to no avail. After half an hour of scouring the Web I found a phone number and asked our host to ring them and try get us a room. Bingo! We were in 😊.

We went to bed pleased and ready for our next adventure 🐬.

The following morning I received a what’s app message from the hostel saying they now only had a single room. Could we snuggle up for 3 nights? Of course…for a discount! 😍.

The ferry arrived and we waited to board, as foot passengers.

We were second on and got front row seats with a scenic view.

The two guys that got on before us must have heard us speaking. “Are you from Yorkshire?” He asked! 😲. Are our accents that noticeable? 😂. A German girl asked us the same question when we were in Argentina. She even knew it was a Leeds accent. Haha. It turns out he was from Birmingham. He was an Asian guy that had met a Canadian guy and they had teamed up in Ecuador and were working their way around South America. We swapped travel tips and stories, and discussed the excitement of not knowing where you’re going next and if you will find anywhere to stay 🤔. We had somewhere to stay…they hadn’t and there wasn’t many hostels on the island.

The clouds looked great against the blue skies. Volcano Corcovado could be seen in the distance standing splendid above the clouds.

Our reflection in one of the windows on the ferry.

As we approached the island we were stunned by its’ beauty. What a welcoming site. It had dolphins playing in the bay. I could tell I was going to like this place. 😊

After walking down the sandy roads we came across our hostel. It was nestled in the trees with no sign outside, advising of its name. Luckily I’d seen a photo of it on the Internet so had an idea what it looked like.

It was a little rundown shack 😂. The inside wasn’t a palace either. They had found us a mattress to put on the floor and gave us and discount. We ended up paying £16 a night, which was the cheapest so far. There literally wasn’t enough room to swing the proverbial cat!

There is only 340 people on the island. It has 2 mini markets, which in England we would refer to as a local shop. They are like shops used to be years ago before supermarkets took over. The food gets brought onto the island once a week so you have to buy the vegetables as soon as they arrive so they are fresh.

The whole island only has electricity between the hours of 8am and 1am, and it’s run from huge generators. It has one company that supplies WiFi, and that is quite flaky. Shops open and close when they want, and ferries and buses have “guide lines” for their timetables. 😅

The hostels WiFi only lasted 2 days as the owner didn’t bother to “recharge” the account as it’s expensive. The boiler didn’t work properly so trying to get a warm shower (not even hot) was virtually impossible. You had to wait for the temperature on the boiler to get to 25 degrees then hope it would get higher. Most times the temperature dropped and you could hear screams coming from the shower when the icy water splurted out. 😨. It all added to the adventure, and luckily we saw the funny side.

We were sharing the hostel with a French guy Baptiste, who was 25, the Manager Agustin, who was 22 and Jorge (pronounced Horhey) who was the owners brother. From the start we all got along really well and continued to do so throughout the 3 days we stayed.

On our first full day we decided to just chill out on the beach, read, walk, and watch the dolphins 😀. We were the only people on the beach!

The “streets” on the island consisted of roads that were mostly topped with sand and lined with dense green foliage and little houses dotted between. All the houses were either wood or metal shacks. Very run down and not very appealing.

We’d heard about a boat trip that promised us Sea Lions, Dolphins and Penguins. We planned to book it so let’s hope it delivers.

The next morning we took the boat trip. The sun wasn’t out, but it wasn’t cold or raining so we were happy. The trip didn’t disappoint. We’ve never been within touching distance of dolphins before or seen South American sea lions. Watch the video below to see how close they were.

Another short video below.

The seal mum above had caught a fish for her babies, below.

I managed to capture the mother seal on video with the fish.

What a fantastic trip. We headed back to the beach and walked for miles along the empty stretch of sand. If you want to get away from life’s troubles and just chill, this is definitely the place.

We finished the day off by watching Baptiste fishing off the pier with a home made rod. The moon came up big and bright over the mountains, it was a good end to the day.

On our last day we decided to walk further around the coastline. We saw 2 people and 10 dolphins. The only sound to could hear was the waves. The beach was full of beautiful pieces of driftwood. If my mum was still alive she’d have had me bringing them home for her. I got one for her anyway 😊.

As we were walking along the shoreline I kept nudging Kev so he lost his balance and walked into the cold sea. He laughed and turned round and said “Stop it or I’ll push you in the sand and roll you into the water like the barrel that you are!” 😔. I was laughing and calling him a cheeky sod. He said he couldn’t help being slimmer than me, and and felt sorry for me. He’s such a patronising git 😂. He then walked off with his dyed blonde (that’s getting lighter with the sun) and wrote me and lovely (for him) message in the sand.

I had to video it as it was too big to get a photo.

We felt like we were on a film set of the program “Lost”. It was jaw droppingly beautiful. See the 360 degree video below.

We even thought we’d seen a dinosaur egg! 😮

We sat and ate our lunch whilst watching seals swimming in front of us. We have had lunch in some fantastic places with stunning views.

We headed back to town as our ferry was due to leave at 7pm and we needed to eat and be at the dock dock for 6pm. We saw a woman that worked at the local shop, that also doubled as the ferry office. We decided to check that our ferry was going to arrive on time, as the Manager of our hostel left the previous day and his was delayed by an hour. To our horror, ours had been totally cancelled! We could get one the following day at 10pm, she advised. Ha! I don’t think so. The journey was 20 hours long.

To cut a long story short we applied for a refund, and decided to get a bus the following day to a totally different place than we had planned. It was only a couple of hours away and we’d heard people say it was nice so we decided to head to La Junta. It was a good job we didn’t book any accommodation in Coyhaique, and it’s made us decide to just turn in places and find somewhere to sleep in arrival. We only know of 4 of our friends that have done this or would do it haha. They are like minded travellers, who only make basic plans for their travels and “wing it” like us. We met Andy and Net 2 years ago on a local bus in Cuba and have remained good friends ever since. They are budget travellers too and we meet up regularly and swap stories whilst enjoying good food, and having a laugh.

Steve and Sandra, we met in Mexico 2 years ago. They both live in Australia, although Sandra originates from France. They do something I don’t think me and Kev could do, and that’s couch surf. We We had great times with them exploring cenotes (underground swimming pools) in Mexico and hopefully we will be meeting them again this year in France. 😊

We spent the last night drinking in the sights of the mountains, whilst sat on the beach. Suddenly Kev shouted really loudly “OK if this is a film like the one that Jim Carey was in and he thought he was living his life but it was a reality show, and you’re all watching me on TV in the pub, then get me off this island!” 😂😂. I know how he feels. Haha.

The guy who is running the hostel said we could stay another night, but tomorrow it’s closing and he’s going back up north on a ferry!

We decided not to offer him anymore money for our extra night. If he asks we’ll give him it, but but we’ve had no WiFi or hot water for 2 days. I think he owes us 😉.

We were advised to be at the dock for 8am to get the bus to La Junta (pronounced La Hunta). We thought it better to get there early, just in case the bus didn’t adhere to its timetable, and also to see if we could get away with a free night’s accommodation 😂. Jorgé waved us off and when we got to the dock at 7.30am the bus was just about to leave! We boarded it and smiled. We were getting off the island and saved money too.

As we move further down south, the scenery should be more dramatic. Stay tuned folks.

9 thoughts on “Chaitén & Puerto Raúl Marin, Patagonia, Chile

  1. Enjoyed reading this,Your mum would have loved the driftwood.I remember her looking in the rainforest and Dominican everywhere we went.Like you I think about her every time I see driftwood.Wish I

    had a fiver for evertime we set off n not had a clue where we were going.Glad we did it when we were younger.Getting a bit old for it now.Take care stay safe n enjoyxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well my intrepid amigos another great instalment. So familiar yet so different. The clothes hanging out over the pipes to dry, finding places to stay and hanging around waiting for transport. All part of the travellers life. We wouldn’t change it would we?
    Patagonia’s a place I have wanted to go to for a long time and nice to know your blog is there to assist.
    Stay safe xx

    Liked by 1 person

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