To save a bit on driving time and gas consumption and to take advantage of a unique opportunity to check out the beauty of the Chilean fjords, we decided to take the Navimag Ferry from Puerto Natales more than 2,000 kilometers north to the town of Puerto Montt. The ferry is basically a commercial operation transporting commercial goods such as produce and livestock from the isolated southern coast of Chile to Puerto Montt, where the main highway begins and runs all the way north to Santiago and beyond.
Tag Archives: patagonia
One of the highlights of Chilean Patagonia is definitely the mountains and peaks in Torres del Paine National Park. We planned to catch the Navimag ferry from Puerto Natales, Chile in a few days and it was a convenient location because the national park was only an hour dive outside of Natales. Torres del Paine is notorious for bad weather and since we were there during the end of winter, we did not know quite what to expect.
After pigging out on asados in El Chalten and being amazed by Cerro Fitz Roy, we headed south to El Calafate, one of the biggest tourist destinations in Patagonia, mainly because of the spectacular Perito Moreno glacier.
f you ever doubted that Patagonia was amongst one the windiest places on earth, this photo should put your mind to rest. The photo was taken whilst we were in Puerto Natales waiting for the Navimag ferry to take us further north in Chile. On this particular day, the wind was so strong it managed to pick up our tent and blow it over the two meter barbed wire fence into the neighbors yard, shredding the outer material to pieces. A tent weighs nearly nothing, however the tent was not only pegged but also tied down, as well as weighted with a few packs and some bedding, which also managed to get a little tattered.
From Santiago we crossed the border back into Argentina from Chile for what might have been the 10th time. Over the past two months of zig-zagging between through the smallest of border crossings we have seen gorgeous countryside only available to those with their own transportation. This time, though, even some of you at home might be familiar with this particular pass as it is known for over a dozen switchbacks snaking the mountain side and eventually taking you back into Argentina by Chile’s Portillo ski resort and mighty Mount Aconcagua-the highest peak in the world outside of the Himalayas.
This is to transcribe, as best as memory serves, the events that took place between Friday October 24, 2008 and Monday October 27, 2008 aboard the NaviMag local. What occurred on Monday could not have been what any of the 90 passengers had in mind upon boarding on Friday-that is unless anyone was expecting to disembark 12 hours early via tugboat, 500 yards from the port while sporting damp life jackets under their backpacks. What exactly went wrong, no one can ever really know for sure. What we do know is that on the night of Friday October 24, those 90 passengers, albeit mostly eager coeds, boarded the NaviMag excited to spend the following 3 nights and 4 solid days gawking the beauty of the southern Chilean fjords.
For all of us, visiting the far reaches of the Patagonian region of Argentina has been a dream come true. It’s generally in the destination top ten list of any traveler and is now one of those places that will one day require a return trip. Driving on the famed Austral is an extra bonus that few will ever know. Keep in mind though that it is a long way down and some stretches can be pretty difficult. Most roads roads aren’t paved and the barren land outside the window is exhausting.
Many parts of the world are still left undiscovered for all practical purposes. In fact only 200,000 people live in the Southern Part of Argentina, while the country has a population of over 40 million. When living in a metropolitan center of the world it is easy to forget just how wild parts of it are. Our recent trip down the Austral Highway in Chile presented, to me at least, one of the most beautiful parts of the world. The grand connection of this highway from the populated north of Chile to the undeveloped southern section was only finished in 2000 and it only services a small total of 100,000 people. Bus service is irregular or almost non-existent, and while we were passing through it was rare to come across more than a car or two driving it all day. It is adventures like this one that really answer the regular question begged of us, “Why drive your own cars?”