We’d booked seats on the 8am bus out of Calafate. We had a cracking sunrise to greet us.
The bus station was filled with various dogs. Don’t know if they were pets or strays but they were cute. There were 2 laid together, as though they were a couple. After watching them for a few minutes we guessed that the bitch was “in season”. He was trying his best to get her to accept his offer of a bit of “affection” 😂. She was having none of it and kept going to bite him, to warn him off. A lady came and put some dog food on the floor. The bitch was up and tucking into breakfast. The dog on the other hand saw this as a perfect opportunity, he wrapped his legs round and was going hell for leather, while she was happily eating all the food 😃. What the dog didn’t realise was the bitch had played it smart….she’d tucked her tail right between her legs so he was getting nowhere 😂😂. He soon realised his effort was in vain so thought he’d have some food. By this time, she’d polished the lot off 😉. Just shows the mind set of the male and female species, in both humans and animals! Can’t beat a good breakfast 🙄.
All the way to the border of Argentina we saw loads of, what we called “bendy necked deers” 😁. They are called Guanacos, but like a lama.
The border crossing out of Argentina wasn’t anything special. You can see below how bad Argentinian roads are. The roads in Chile are mostly tarmac.
The surrounding area looked like the Yorkshire Moors and just as cold! We got talking to an American guy and he said that he had to walk across the border from Bolivia to Peru…all of 300m!! Haha we shot him down in flames. “That’s nothing….we walked 12km from Chile to Argentina across the border!” We said. He didn’t speak to us again 😂.
Whilst stood waiting for the others to get their passport stamped, we saw a young fox looking for its lunch. It’s nice just to see any wildlife.
There was a young lad, aged about 23, stood outside near us. He was stretching his legs, and only had jeans and a T shirt on. We were the only ones outside braving the bitter cold wind. I said to Kev “I bet he’s from up North”. We were laughing and singing “Yorkshire, Yorkshire” 😀. As we got on the bus I asked him if he was from England, “Yes”, he said “From Leeds”. We’re tough up North 😉😊.
We had to empty the bus of all bags when we reached the Chilean side. All the suitcases were taken out and the dogs were busy sniffing everything. Poor things. It was a bus full of travellers. The clothes and shoes in bags won’t be that fresh lol.
Puerto Natales is very scenic. It is quite big compared to some of the places we’ve been to, but still has that small, non touristy feel to it. It’s on the eastern shore of the Seno Ultima Esperanza (Last Hope Sound). It is surrounded by jagged peaks and receding glaciers of the Parque Nacional Bernardo O’Higgins.
As we walked to the front a little dog came up wagging it’s tail. “Hola” we both said. That was it. It followed us for ages and came and sat with us. It was thoroughly enjoying being pampered. The dogs here are so friendly.
After a quick walk around the town we’d picked up essentials. Two flasks and two rain ponchos. We forgot how much cheaper Chile is. I was going to pay £8 for a poncho yesterday in Argentina but the quality was rubbish. Today in Chile I got a good quality one for £4! We’ve bought some Nesquik hot chocolate so our flasks will be filled tomorrow 😊. The temperature is getting colder and colder but we were prepared for this and have packed for all weathers. It’s currently only 8 degrees but the wind makes it feel cooler.
There is a gorgeous little (collapsed) pier that the birds sit on to soak up the sun. It was “refreshing” in the wind, but a great view. We’d read reviews of this place on trip advisor, most saying ‘go watch the birds on the pier, as the clouds move you can get some great shots’. One person had put ‘I don’t see the attraction…it’s only a pier with birds on!’ Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as the saying goes. We loved it.
The little town has quite a modern church in it. I took a photo of it whilst the bells were ringing to make it more interesting. Can you hear them? 🕭🎶 😂
We went back to our Hospedaje to cook tea. After the nice one we stayed in yesterday this is the pits! It was recommended to us. We should have know by the price that it wasn’t going to be anything special!
The following morning we were up at 6.20am and went down for our “included breakfast”. 1 warm breadroll with butter and Jam! Wow. Our bellies will be really full and ready for our hike in the national park today 😂.
There are a few options on trails in the Torres del Paine National Park, the big one that takes 10 days is the O trail, then there is the W trail which takes around 4 days. You then get the day hikes which can take from 7 to 9 hours depending on how fast you walk. As I suffer with my knees I could only manage half of one of the trails. I could have kept going but knew I needed to get back too. The walk was so scenic. The mountains were constantly in view.
It started off overcast, then proceeded to rain. Luckily we’d bought our ponchos yesterday. Not very glamorous but it does the job. When I used to work, people always said I was glamorous…not when travelling, but I try…lipstick always does the trick 😉😗. Just reapplying below 😆.
We had sun, rain, wind and fog all in one day. As we reached one point we could see the glacial lake in the distance. A good spot to sit and have lunch. We needed to sit down. Our legs were aching, our backs were drenched with sweat and it was getting hotter so needed to take some layers off.
It was awkward on some parts of the trek as we had to cross over water, and my waterproof Keen shoes had split and were letting water in! I am trying to make them last but after today I may need to invest in more! Luckily Kev always helps me when we get to difficult parts on the trail. Trying to balance on branches over streams isn’t great with holes in your shoes.
He doesn’t do it without moaning or bragging though haha. Well it’s Kev what do you expect? 😉
We got to quite quite a fierce stretch of water and there was an Australian couple behind us. We’d been talking to them previously and I told them about my shoes, arthritic knees and the fact it I’d left my poles in another hostel (amongst other things). When we reached the water she offered me one of her poles to steady myself whilst trying to cross. I gratefully accepted and carried on the trail. We reached another water crossing that was a bit deeper. I turned around and said “Can I borrow…” before I’d finished she held her pole out and said “sure, no problem”. “Ah thanks” I said “but I was going to ask if I could borrow your shoes!” 😂😂. They laughed.
We carried on trekking but it was walking uphill, which isn’t good on my knees. We stopped for a rest and with the sun shining we nodded off whilst laid on a large rock! 😴 It’s tiring being a traveller.
We woke ourselves up snoring after about 20 mins and decided to head back down. Kev wanted to carry on the trail but I wouldn’t be able to get back if we did. Instead of leaving me to sit waiting for him for 2 hours (like he was going to do!) He made the chivalrous decision to come back with me 😂….twittering all the way down that I’d be lost without him!
The bus times are crap to return to town. You can either get the 2pm or the 8pm bus!?! We’d reached the bottom by 4.15pm so had a long wait. We got chatting to a lovely young lad called Archie, from Gloucester. He’d just graduated from uni and was on his first solo travelling abroad. We swapped advice and tips, as he’d started in the south and was working his way north and we did it in reverse. What a great place to come for your first trip alone. Patagonia is astoundingly beautiful.
Most of the clouds had cleared by the end of the day so we got a view of the Torres (towers).
On the way back to town we passed pink flamingos in the water. Not a great shot as it was from the bus window but nice to see them.
We’d walked 13 miles in total today. I’m pretty proud of myself for all the walking I manage to do with my “manky knees” as my beloved calls them 😊😂.
We had a 3 day pass for the park, but decided to take a day off as I couldn’t do 3 days consecutively of arduous trekking. Instead we went looking to buy more shoes for me and to walk along the waterfront. Both parts ended up being painful, in different ways. I couldn’t find any shoes that fit me. Chilean people are quite small, as as race, and the women’s shoe sizes only go to size 6.5 and I’m a 7. I did however try to squeeze into them, whilst gassing a few shop assistants in the process. 8 weeks of wearing 1 pair of walking shoes…you can imagine 😫😷. I did warn her “no olor buena” (they don’t smell good). She didn’t move the first time but after trying on 4 pairs she walked off and left me to it. 😮
The second part was hard on my knees. We only walked 5km round the waterfront but my poor legs were aching so much. Apparently we were looking for a fishing museum!? Like you do. We didn’t find it and couldn’t be bothered walking back so we did our “norm” 🖒. The police car with the flashing lights didn’t stop for us, even though I smiled nicely at them. It was probably good they didn’t stop at we could have ended up somewhere we didn’t want to be 😉. 2 cars later at and we’d got a lift. We love the thrill of it now haha. It was a Chilean couple with a young daughter (around 18 months old) and they were driving round trying to get the little girl to sleep. They offered to take us back to our “hotel”. Pfft! I don’t think so. It’s a dive, and we still wanted to explore.
They dropped us off and we sat watching the different birds on the water. Ducks, black necked swans teaching their offspring to get food from the bottom of the lake bed. It was funny watching the swans. They’re so graceful one minute, then the next they have their backsides in the air tredding water, to keep their head submerged.
We plodded on to get food for the following day, we wondered wether to make a salad box up but after passing this fruit after veg shop we decided to take rice with eggs and chopped meat 😂. We didn’t like to rob them of everything.
As we were walking round the town 3 different local people looked at us and said “good morning”. How did they know we were British? I even had my Chile buff on my head! Strange 🤔😉. Do we not look like locals?
So what was supposed to be an easy day, finished off with us walking 12 miles!
The next day we were up and out for 7am. The bus to the national park leaves at 7.30am and if you’re not there on time….it’s tough. There were were a couple of easy walks that Kev had researched that were only a few hours long for each one, and supposedly had great views. We had to take a separate bus in the national park to the other side before we could start our walk. I managed to get some good shots from the bus window.
Above is the helicopter taking supplies to the campsites. You have to book your tent pitch or Refugio (like a hostel) months in advance if you’re doing the trek. It’s so popular.
When we got dropped off near the start of the walk it was around 10.15am. The first bus back was 1pm then the next was 7pm. We noticed the pathway to the trek was chained of the and there was a sign saying “closed due to strong winds”. Great! There was nowhere else to walk apart from the 20km trek back to the start or sit in the cafe for 3 hours and the wait for the bus. Kev wanted to try walk on the closed pathway for a bit. A few people were ignoring the signs but the bus driver told me it was extremely dangerous, as the wind was so strong, and the chance of being blown off the side of the mountain was very high. No way was was risking our life to see a waterfall. We said we’d hike back. The driver looked at us (and probably thought we we were too old and unfit), shook his finger and said “no”. Sod that! Off we went. The wind wasn’t just cheeky it was downright abusive! It was blowing us all over the place. The road was pebbles and we kept slipping on them. The strong gusts were whipping up the dust off the road and our trousers, coats, hair and faces were covered in brown dust. There was only us walking on the road an. A few buses and cars went passed and pipped or waved. We didn’t want a lift. We were loving it. We were having to shout to each other in some places as the wind was so fierce were couldn’t hear each other, but the sights….wow!! We had huge grins on our faces and kept saying “wow” “oh my god, wow”. The mountains, glaciers, icefield………breathtaking.
The wind had blown this sign. 😲
Puma’s roam around in the mountains and although we didn’t see any, we saw they had been in the area. Poor little bendy necked deer.
We finished the day off with a last look at the water on the edge of Puerto Natales. The sky was amazing!
As we walked hand in hand, we marvelled at what we’ve done and seen so far on this trip. Hitch hiked, trekked, turned up in towns with no accommodation booked and just knocked on doors. We’ve seen penguins, dolphins, seals, otters, flamingos, Guanacos and numerous birds. Glaciers, mountains, lakes, the lists goes on. This is a huge adventure and we’re enjoying it to the max. The best thing is, we wouldn’t want to do it with anyone else but each other. We get on so well, and laugh like school children everyday. We’d only dated for 2 and a half months before we got married. This year we celebrate 33 years together, and we are best buddies.
The next stop is Punta Arenas for a couple of days, we then we head to the furthest city in the world…Ushuaia, or Fin del Mundo as it’s locally known (end of the world). Wow. Watch this space