We have spent four days now off our bikes in Puerto Natales. Located just north of Punta Arenas along the coast of southern Chile, Natales is a charming seacoast town of about 20,000 residents. Whereas El Chalten is a hip little mountain town with a main street maybe just a little too Americanized, Puerto Natales is just what it should be. Earthy and authenic. With Torres del Paine just a short bus ride away, the town attracts visitors worldwide. That afforded us plenty of great little restaurants to sample and shops to explore.
Lassitude is just now starting to set in for me. A little too long off the bike. I’m happy that our Navimag ferry will be docking today. We can board tonight for our early morning departure. It will be four days and three nights before we disembark in Puerto Montt. The ferry spends most of the time traveling narrow waterways along the fjords of Patagonian Chile until sometime late on the third day when it breaks out into the open ocean for a few hours before pulling back inland on the last stages of the voyage to Puerto Montt.
This boat is not a cruise ship. It’s a regular ferry carrying cars, trucks, freight and just over 300 passengers like me. There are simple meals and shared accommodations. No alcohol on board. Some snacks can be purchased on the way. No frills. No wi-fi. Perfect for us. They’ll take our bikes and us up to a point where we can finish our trip up where we started – Bariloche. The scenery should be fantastic. We’ll sail past and through coastal mountains, long fjords, lush temperate rain forests, and large volcanoes. We are promised views of marine mammals including whales plus birds of all stripes. What’s not to like.
It would be nice if you all could close your eyes for just a moment and pray for good weather for us. It likes to rain along the coast.
When we reach Puerto Montt we will immediately hop on our bikes and pedal up to Petrohue on Lago Todos los Santos to spend the night. The next morning we’ll take a ferry for two hours down the length of this large Lago. The next section will find us biking some bad ripio for 28K and 1000 meters of climbing to the second ferry. We have about three hours to accomplish this before the ferry departs. Otherwise we have to wait till the following day at 4pm to catch it. We cross over to Argentina in this remote section. There is one more ferry and then about 25K to get to Bariloche. At that point our biking trip is over.
Chile and Argentina have been wonderful hosts to us. So warm and inviting, we couldn’t ask for more.
Life is good.