Santiago to Punta Arenas/Puerto Natales

1354 miles/2166 Km (by air)
+154 miles/247 Km (by bus)

8 October 2006

Southern Patagonia (click map to enlarge)

Photo Gallery and Commentary

Not enough sleep last night. It was well after 1 a.m. that we finally got to sleep and we were up at 5 a.m. to catch a 8:30 flight to Punta Arenas. The plane made a stop in Puerto Montt, one of Chile's major ports. I was here with Carrie ten years ago and the airport looks unchanged. The layover was short and we arrived in Punta Arenas at around 1 p.m. We picked up about 30 Chilean soldiers in Puerto Montt and it was funny standing at the luggage carousel watching them get their luggage. It was all identical and I didn't see any special identifying tags. These soldiers sorted it out pretty well.

We were met by a driver who took us to a bus stop for our ride to Puerto Natales. He advised us that the 2:30 p.m. bus was cancelled because the road was temporarily closed. He spoke almost no English and my limited Spanish prevented me from getting an answer as to why the road was closed. We had to wait at the small terminal for the 5 p.m. bus. We walked around the area for a few minutes but retreated back to the terminal when it started raining (the temperature was in the low 40s and there was a constant wind to accompany the rain). Sitting in that terminal for a couple of hours on chairs that were designed for 30 minutes was not the greatest experience. In addition people kept coming in and out without fully closing the door. We had to get up regularly to close the door or be frozen.

We finally got on the bus for the three hour trip to Puerto Natales. The bus route took us along the Straits of Magellan for a few miles before turning in a more northerly route that took us along the Argentine border to Puerto Natales. A driver picked us up and delivered us to the Costa Australis Hotel. It is a modern hotel with great amenities (except for WiFi which I can only get in the lobby area). Because of the cancellation of the 2:30 bus, we wound up getting in a lot later and once again had to put up with a 9 p.m. dinner start. I don't know how long my stomach can handle this eating schedule. The hotel is situated right on the waterfront of Seno de Ultimo Esperanza, loosely translated as the Bay of Last Hope (I hope they are not trying to tell us something). It was to dark to see anything when we got here so I will try to get some pictures in tomorrow morning.