We entered Chile from Argentina and bounced in between both countries all the way down to the southernmost tip of South America. Our first few days in Chile were a bit ominous as we started in Santiago, which was still in full protest mode weeks after the government announced a hike to the metro fare. From Santiago, we made our way south to Pucón for a few days of adrenaline activities (hydrospeeding and volcano climbing). Then we bounced over to Argentina (Bariloche) before entering back to Chile where we had a few days in Futaleufú, Coyhaique and Puerto Río Tranquilo where white water rafting, lamb on spit roast, a birthday celebration, and a boat visit to Marble Caves were on the itinerary. Then back to Argentina (El Chalten & El Calafate) before our final entry into Chile. Our last few days in Chile were spent in the gorgeous Torres del Paine National Park hiking to the towers, soaking up the beauty of Lake Pehoé, visiting waterfalls and horseback riding. Chile, while expensive, has proven why it remains a fixture on everyone’s South America itinerary. We thoroughly enjoyed our limited time here and wouldn’t hesitate to return for another future trip.
King Penguin Nature Reserve bush camp – This refuge near the King Penguin visitor center is free for all campers. A Swiss couple had already claimed the refuge hut, but we pulled in and set up our tents all around. A beautiful spot plus a long drop toilet which made it a very comfortable “bush camp”! The king penguin colony was visible down the road and a couple of penguins vocalizing at night could be heard above the light rain. The trash bins were overflowing, but otherwise, this was a clean and comfortable spot.
Camping Lago Pehoe, Torres del Paine National Park – A gorgeous campsite tucked in the middle of the national park. Phenomenal views of Lake Pehoe and Cerro Paine Grande and Torre Central and Norte mountain ranges. Each camping spot comes with a fire pit and covered A-frame for dining. Shared bathrooms have hot water, toilet paper and hand soap which feel luxiourious for a basic campsite. There is an easy hike to a waterfall near Hotel Explora Patagonia about 1 km from the campsite. Bird lovers will love the Upland geese, Austral parrots, and Southern Crested Caracara. There is a resident Chilean huemul (an endangered species of deer native to the mountains of Argentina and Chile) that lives here.
Hostal World’s End Backpackers, Puerto Natales – A small hostal that feels like you are staying in someone’s home. Dorm rooms are cosy, warm and comfortable but lacking lockers or space for luggage. There are enough power outlets and WiFi here is fast and reliable. Shared bathrooms (male and female) have 3 toilets and 3 showers each, with loads of hot water. There is a shared kitchen with limited cutlery. It is located 1.5 km from the center of town.
Camping Don Manuel, Puerto Rio Tranquilo – a tiny plot of land near the Lago Buenos Aires. The caretaker is a lovely old man who is very friendly and eager to please. We had to scope out a place to set up our tent on the high ground as most of the ground was flooded from incessant rain. The caretaker allowed everyone to use his private bathroom (hot water shower and toilet), and there was an outside communal toilet area. No WiFi or power points here. One of the cheapest camping options in town.
Camping Alborada, Coyhaique – Overgrown trees almost prevented us from entering this serene campsite located about 2 km from Coyhaique. The caretaker is an elderly man and it is obvious that he struggles to maintain this place on his own. Lots of space to set up tents, and there was a common block of shared toilets and showers. Hot water shower for the first lucky person and everyone else had cold water. No WiFi or power points here.
Cara del Indio, Futaleufu – A rustic log cabin on a farm is the best way to describe this remote lodging option on the outskirts of Futaleufu. We shared a cabin with 5 other people and got one of the private rooms with two single beds. There was 1 toilet/shower for the cabin. Hot water showers provided by gas heater. Each cabin had a mini kitchen and fridge and a small social lounge area. The main dining area had a full sized kitchen, fireplace and dining room. There was a jacuzzi and sauna and loads of farm animals. WiFi available near the common area but we were told it was unrealiable and slow.
Camping La Poza, Pucon – Nice campsite within walking distance of Pucon. We set up our tent under a shady tree near a power point. There are loads of power points for campers but WiFi is only available close to the main reception area at the entrance to the campsite. The common showers and toilets left a lot to be desired, but the camp owner did tell us that he was having water issues. While there, we did not have hot water for showers and toilets flushed only half the time.
Hostel Providencia, Santiago – Comfy hostel in downtown Santiago with funky artwork decor. The staff here is friendly and helpful. The hostel has private rooms as well as dorms, and the quad dorm was spacious with storage lockers and power plugs for each bunk. There are enough toilets and showers so that we never had to wait for one. There are two kitchens for self caterers and a bar that serves happy hour drinks and bar food. The WiFi here is decent and there is good connectivity throughout the hostel.
8 Nov – Mendoza – Santiago, Chile
Up early for a 6:30 am departure to Chile. Spectacular drive with gorgeous views. The border crossing wasn’t too painful although we did have to offload everything. A quick truck lunch (leftover BBQ) and we were in Santiago by 3 pm. Hostel Providencia is our home for the next 2 nights and our room is with Futoshi and Danny. We are very close to the street riots. We signed up for dinner at 8 pm and met the newbies (Ivan, Sam, and a young Aussie couple). Tear gas was thrown on top of the hostel bar’s roof and we all had tears in our eyes. The BBQ was ok but Danny’s was better! Early night tonight since we are on lockdown and don’t feel like drinking.
09 Nov – Santiago
Decided to visit the Museum of Memory and Human Rights after breakfast. Jason and Hanna ordered us Uber rides which were much cheaper than regular taxis. The museum was excellent but distressing…we learned so much about the Pinochet regime and the thousands of missing persons who were tortured and murdered. Back at the hostel, we joined the group walking down to where the massive rally was yesterday…a nearby church was still smoldering and there were a handful of protesters out and about. We weren’t feeling sushi for lunch so we joined Jason, Hanna and Rob for a stroll to the supermarket where we picked up lunch stuff. 14000 Pesos later, we had both lunch and dinner sorted. During lunch of 5 cheese pasta and sausages, we discussed the volcano hike with Jason and Hanna and decided to go ahead and do it. After lunch siesta and tv session, followed by dinner at 8. Then a few more episodes of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan before hitting the sack at midnight for an early morning wake up tomorrow.
10 Nov – Santiago – Pucón
Up early for a super long drive day, more than 800 km. The poor newbies had a hell of a time loading onto the truck as locker space was not allocated for them and some people had more than one locker. It was a smooth drive on highway so we made good time. Gas stations in Chile have the best bathrooms of the trip thus far. Grabbed money out of an ATM at lunch time. By 5, we had reached Pucon and our campsite was the Camping La Poza. Set up our tent and joined Tom and Giles for a wander into town. A lady offered us a special of 70,000 to climb the volcano and that made us wonder why the other company was charging 100,000. Emily, Mitch, Rebeca, Jeremy, and Tom were keen on joining us but we wanted to run it by Danny first. He seemed cool with us doing our own thing so we sent out a group chat to let the first 12 people know the new deal of 88,000 for both hot springs and volcano climb. While confirming our spots at the agency, Tom accidentally knocked over a monitor and broke it. They wanted 100,000 to replace it and Tom, Giles and Amanda wanted to refuse. The big problem was we had already paid in full and we didn’t want our hike in jeopardy. While they sorted it out, we had a late dinner at Campos Restaurant…a meat and chip feast. Back to the campsite by 10 and we managed to watch one tv show.
11 Nov – Pucón
Danny made pancakes for breakfast and we left for the hydro boarding at 9:30. Amanda showed me a message that Danny had sent last night on WhatsApp asking folks not to shop around for tours if you have already signed up with Oasis. Fair enough but we had asked him about it before sending the message to everyone so I wanted to have a chat with him about it to clear the air. He said he understood and that we had been given a great quote and I agreed that in the future, if our name went on the list, we would just do it with the Oasis company. I also reiterated that we hadn’t been shopping around and had been approached! But all is good as Danny doesn’t hold grudges. Getting geared up was tight and uncomfortable. We were given a wetsuit onesie and a zip on top for a double layer on our core. Then a 20 minute drive to the start point. Then into the water and a quick block of instruction before off we went, little ducklings following mama duck in a row. It was hella fun except when we banged our knees. Much more of an adrenaline rush than rafting! Back in town, Rebeca got the great news she passed her exam…so happy for her! We ate empanadas which were cheap at 2000 Pesos. Robby had to do cook group shopping while I grabbed some supplies for tomorrow’s hike. Back at the campsite, I had a brief siesta until early dinner at 5 pm. Dinner was chicken stir fry and Futoshi loaded up on the chicken, which meant Rebeca and Jeremy didn’t get any. Cook group needs to start dishing up servings to prevent that from happening. After dinner, we joined Danny, Amanda, Lisa, Bert, Alli, and Tom at the Los Pozones hot springs for a soak. Will drove and Cam rode along but they stayed on the truck while the rest of us soaked our bodies. Nice hot springs and we really enjoyed it. Back to camp late so we hit the sack to get some sleep.
12 Nov – Pucón
Got up at 5:30 to get organized for today’s hike. We met our guides outside the Agencia Informaciones Turismo Pucon (Jesus, Alejandro, Sebastian) and got our gear loaded into the van for the 25 minute drive to Villarrica. Once there, the hike began and we waved goodbye to the other Oasis group who looked to be part of a much larger consolidated group. Our pace to the first rest stop was brisk, and after that I fell behind and had Jesus helping me. He gave me his trekking pole to use instead of my ice pick which helped me a bunch. At the second rest stop, we had breakfast and I was made to go behind Alejandro to set the pace. I felt bad for the rest of the group because I was taking my sweet time but we got there in the end, summiting as the other groups were heading back down. The top of the volcano offered spectacular views, although the gas was blowing somewhat fierce. We had about 15 minutes to enjoy the views and take photos before we had to head back down. Going down was the fun part, sliding down on our butts for an hour, using our ice picks to brake. So much fun and almost worth the effort hiking up! Back down at the parking lot, we realized we got blisters on our heels from the boots…ouch! Everyone raved about the tour and our guides and we tipped them to thank them for their great service. Robby, Tom and Mitch had cook group duty so they rushed back to start cooking so that dinner would be ready by 6:30. We barely had time to eat bangers and mash before our ride came to pick us up. The hot springs were equally as nice tonight but our blisters were excruciatingly painful getting into scalding hot water. We lingered until 10 pm and were in our tent by 10:30 pm. Great but tough day…well worth pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
13 Nov – Pucón – Bariloche, Argentina
Robby had to get up early to make French toast for breakfast. We left at 7:30 am and drove straight for the border at Paso Mamuil Malal. Best and easiest border crossing of the trip as it only took a few minutes to get stamped out of Chile and back into Argentina.
13 – 16 Nov: In Argentina
16 Nov – Bariloche – Futaleufú, Chile
Entering Chile was more tedious as customs wanted our bags offloaded. We left a lot in our locker and they only made us take off our big black bag full of alcohol. We eventually got the all clear and were allowed to proceed to Futaleufu. Cook group had to do shopping in a tiny grocery shop while we got lunch stuff for a pre-dinner snack. The locals had a race going so a few kids were wearing traditional outfits. From Futaleufu, we had to drive an additional 30 km away to our campsite, Cara del Indio. It was set in a lovely location, next to the Futaleufu River nestled next to majestic mountains. And there were farm animals…pigs, horses, dogs, chickens, etc. We decided to let other couples have the double bed rooms and opted for 2 single beds. Our cabin was shared with Brenda who got a single room, and Ivan, Sam, Tom and Giles who got the quad room on the second floor. We got a room with two single beds all to ourselves so I guess it pays to be nice! It started raining shortly after we arrived, so we were eager to get settled in the cabin to avoid the rain. Cook group of Jason, Jeremy and Alli made a delicious beef stew served on mashed potatoes…Robby helped with the potatoes and it still took them nearly 2 hours to prepare dinner as they went above and beyond. We played drinking games (ring of fire and mushroom) until Will came knocking on our door at 8:30 pm to let us know dinner was ready. Dinner was fantastic with the table set and cook group serving us our meals. After helping wash up dishes, it was nearly 10:30 pm and no one in our cabin felt like continuing on with the drinking games so we called it a night and watched a partial episode of Jack Ryan. Super warm and toasty in our beds tonight…bliss!
17 Nov – Futaleufú
Slept in until 8 and watched a bit of tv until breakfast. Cook group made fried eggs on bread served with cherry tomatoes in balsamic sauce which was tasty. The rain that had pelted us all night long stopped briefly so we took a short hike around the property for some photos. One of the playful dogs, a collie and shepherd mix, joined us on our short hike. Danny came by at 11:30 to let us know that due to the constant rain and water levels, rafting would be held on a different river which was grade 3 and 4. We were still keen as it beats sitting around here all day doing nothing. Lunch was pumpkin soup and grilled cheese sandwiches prepared by Danny…yummy! We got ready for rafting afterwards, wearing a wet suit, waterproof jacket, helmet and life jacket. No shoes were provided so we got our tevas out and loaded into the van. All 12 of us squeezed into one van made for an uncomfortable ride. Once we got to the starting point, we started second guessing ourselves because the wind by the river was freezing and we were all cold. Our guides were fun and tried to motivate us, giving a basic block of instruction and letting us choose our own teams. We selected a raft with Lisa, Danny, Hanna and Jason. Jason and Robby took the lead positions and we were off. The water was as cold as expected, but it was exhilarating because we didn’t have to paddle much and the white water was wild. The first 8 km was on a class 2/3 river and we eventually merged with the Futaleufu river, which turned into a class 4+ ride. So much fun and we all really enjoyed it. 90 minutes felt like 30 and we were sad when the ride ended. Brenda came along to take photos and watch us at the beginning and end. We didn’t want to squeeze into the van on the ride back so we asked to sit in the staff van and had an enjoyable conversation with the lead guide. Back at camp, we hopped into the jacuzzi and soaked for a bit before taking hot water showers. The lamb roast was being prepared by the staff and dinner was ready at 8:30. Mitch was the birthday boy and sat at the head table. The dining room had been decorated with balloons and banners and each table had a side dish (guacamole, tomato onion salsa, corn, fresh baked bread, cucumber salad). The highlight was the massive tray of lamb meat carried out by the staff…super tasty! What a feast followed by birthday cake. Mitch made a great speech and almost everyone had a great time. Apparently Keith caused drama with Lisa and Amanda was sick of it so she moved to a different house to sleep in. Keith has a problem with drinking it is getting old.
18 Nov – Futaleufú – Coyhaique
Danny made “egg in a basket” or Ivan’s nickname of “inbred egg” for breakfast. Piglets ran over to say goodbye as we were preparing to leave. Long drive day towards Coyhaique with beautiful views in the morning. Rain interspersed with sunshine and rainbows would pop up. We stopped to cook group shop in La Junta and had limited selection of food choices. We got salami slices, cheese and bread rolls for our lunch and ate it on the truck (no lunch stop today). The monopoly munchers (Jeremy, Robby, Mitch and Tom) played round after round of Monopoly. By 5 pm, we reached Camping Alborada which had overgrown trees. Will had a hell of a time trying to maneuver Spongebob into the campsite and branches had to get sawed off. Amazingly, Will managed it…very impressive indeed. After we set up our tent, Robby was going to help cook group (Rebeca, Brad, Keith) but they admitted that Futoshi was AWOL. Danny had to yell out his name and shame him into doing cook group duty. He is such a lazy piece of shit and my tolerance for him is now nonexistent. He excels at doing the bare minimum and I want nothing to do with him. So we decided to walk into town and check out the protests in the main plaza. It was peaceful with entire families marching together. We actually liked this Patagonian town and found it quite picturesque. Back at camp, cook group made chicken with couscous which tasted good with a squirt of mayonnaise. A group decided to head into town for drinks afterwards but we got settled in our tent and watched Jack Ryan instead.
19 Nov – Coyhaique – Puerto Río Tranquilo
Breakfast at 6:30 was oatmeal. Izzy helped prepare it since cook group did not know how! Will reversed Spongebob like a champ and we were on the road an hour later. It was a long drive day, with decent weather at first but it deteriorated over time. We were sceptical about doing the Marble Cave boat ride since it was projected to rain all afternoon. We pulled into Puerto Rio Tranquilo around 2 pm to heavy rain and morale was low. We ate truck lunch of pasta and while Danny set up the kitchen tarp. No one wanted to do the boat ride to the caves but Danny said it was do or die…either we go today or not at all. So we signed up along with Hanna and somehow we convinced 5 more to join in. Despite the rain, we set up our tent and were on the boat at 3 pm. Once we got to the initial marble cave, everyone had a palpable sense of disappointment because it was pretty meh. But our captain kept motoring us along the caves and they got more and more impressive, especially when the sun came out. The Lago Buenos Aires looked like a swimming pool in the sun…absolutely gorgeous. A rock formation in the shape of a dog was pointed out to us as well as an elephant. The cathedral was the best section, with stunning marble formations and gorgeous turquoise blue water. We took a few group photos and our boat captain positioned us in various poses. Two thumbs up for this boat trip, good value at 10000 CLP. Back at the campsite, Camping Don Manuel, we set up our sleeping gear and took hot water showers. The owner was a really nice guy and I enjoyed talking to him. Dinner was potatoes stuffed with onions, cheese and sausage made by Izzy, Cam, Sam and Bert. Alli, Tom, Jeremy, Robby and I played Uno for an hour to loud music. Poor Brenda, we must have scared her off with the “me so horny” song! After dinner, we played a bit more Uno before calling it a night. Tonight was the coldest one of the trip and it was a long, uncomfortable night trying to stay warm.
20 Nov – Puerto Río Tranquilo – Bush camp, Argentina
It was such a cold night that I didn’t feel like lounging in my sleeping bag this morning and got up when the alarm sounded. Extra layers are needed! Cook group made fried eggs with avocado spread on bread for breakfast and we broke down our tent and the kitchen tent in no time. Robby yelled at Futoshi to get off the truck to help and surprise, surprise…he actually did help us fold up the kitchen rain tarp. On the road by 7:30 after kissing the lovely caretaker goodbye. All morning long, we skirted around Lago Buenos Aires and there were some spectacular views. Will even stopped for a photo opportunity. At noon, we pulled over to look at Laguna Verde, which had a vibrant turquoise color. Lunch was cold chorizo pasta that cook group had prepared last night. We drove less than an hour to exit Chile and enter Argentina.
20 – 26 Nov: In Argentina
26 Nov – El Calafate – Puerto Natales
Drive day towards Puerto Natales today. Everyone seemed keen on new seats so bags were shuffled around and we adjusted. About 10 km before the border, a handful of protestors were burning a tire but they waved at us as we passed. At the border, Danny said to grab our big bag out after we were stamped into Chile. Some people left their seat cushions upright, just begging the customs inspector to order everyone to offload all bags. Pretty stupid and it annoyed me to no end. But we were in Chile and had free time for lunch. We found a lunch special for 2 including salad, meal, dessert and drink for 6900 Pesos which was ok but not great value. Our steak meal was tasty and we left stuffed. Then I had to do cook group shopping. Sausage casserole and the ingredients were cheap. We had 35000 Pesos leftover after getting everything we needed. Our hostal tonight is Hostal World’s End Backpackers and we are in a room with Jason, Hanna, Alli, Rebeca, and Brenda. My cook group started cooking at 4 pm and it didn’t take long to get everything chopped up and cooking. The kitchen was small and it was a bit annoying having to share with non cook group members but we made do. For dinner, we walked back to the Unimarc supermarket to buy roasted chicken and bread…perfect for both dinner and breakfast! A hot shower later and in bed by 9:30. Robby chatted with Jason, Hanna and Alli about dividend growth stocks and our strategy for financial freedom. Weather tomorrow not looking the best but maybe we get lucky.
27 Nov – Puerto Natales – Torres del Paine
Up at 6 to get ready for a 6:30 departure. Something I ate yesterday gave me an upset stomach and I was having second doubts about being able to make the hike up to the Torres del Paine today. We had a cold 2 hour drive to the national park where Danny bought our 3 day entrance tickets. Then we drove to Refugio Torre Central where our hike started. Despite not feeling 100%, I decided to give it a go. Danny set a furious pace and we walked at our own pace. Tom and Ivan joined us and our little wolf pack charged up the mountain together. Honestly, this hike felt a lot easier than the hike to Mt Fitzroy. Same distance and same elevation gain but it was a constant uphill so we got into a rythm and pace. Even the toughest section felt relatively easy and we didn’t have to stop for breaks. What was scheduled to take 4.5 hours to the summit only took us 3 hours so I was pretty stoked with my performance. Good thing we hustled because we had the place to ourselves for about 30 minutes and the sky actually cleared and the sun made a brief appearance. The weather took a turn for the worst on our way down and we felt bad for the W trekkers (Jeremy, Rebeca, Bert and Lisa) who just missed the blue skies by mere minutes. Going down wasn’t any easier and we were shocked to discover that it took us 3 hours to descend. Back at the truck, we waited for Sam, Cam and Will to return. By 5 pm, we were on our way to our campsite for the next 3 nights, the lovely Camping Lago Pehoe. After setting up our tent, we got dinner ready. Robby, Tom and Sam helped with the fire and it didn’t take too long for our sausage casserole to heat up. Great meal since it helped warm us all up and we finished with dessert, lemon meringue pie (pudding as the British like to call it). After putting everything away, a hot water shower was the final touch before getting into our freezing cold tent. It sure is going to be a cold one tonight!
28 Nov – Torres del Paine
Happy Thanksgiving! Breakfast was a late one at 9 am so accidentally sleeping in until 8:15 wasn’t a big deal. We were having oatmeal (porridge as the British call it) and juice for breakfast so it was an easy meal to prepare for and clean up afterwards. Danny had suggested horseback riding today but we were keen on doing it tomorrow because the weather was predicted to be better. Of course it ended up being a gorgeous day today! We walked over to the Salta Chico waterfall near the Hotel Explora Patagonia. The hotel was gorgeous with phenomenal views. Unfortunately, the waterfall had an ugly building next to it so we tried our best to crop it out of our pics. Back at the campsite, we hiked up to the mirador overlooking Lake Pehoe. Beautiful views and neither of us felt it was necessary to hike up to the Condor lookout point afterwards. Lunch was by the lake with our leftover chicken. Austral parrots bathed in the lake and a caracara entertained us. Robby helped cook group prepare a Thanksgiving feast…they had been slaving away for hours and still had a lot to do. Dinner was held at 8 pm and was delicious…chicken in lieu of turkey, mac and cheese, roasted pumpkin, cheesey vegetables and fruit crumble with custard…Tom helped with dessert and Jason, Hanna, Danny, Alli did the lion’s share with Rob, Sam, and Robby assisting. Definitely a Thanksgiving meal to remember and not an easy one because of cooking on a fire and in the rain!
29 Nov – Torres del Paine
Breakfast of oatmeal just before we loaded up on the truck for a short ride to the ferry to drop off the day hikers to Grey Glacier (Izzy, Brad, Tom, Sam and Amanda). The rest (Cam, Will, Rob, Keith and us) drove up the hill for the short hike to Salto Grande. A beautiful rainbow greeted us and the waterfall was prettier than the one at the hotel from yesterday. Back at camp, we got ready for horseback riding. But first a quick photo session with a huemule deer and a red fox. Only 5 of us decided to ride today because it was quite pricey (3 hours for $75). Danny, Mitch and Emily plus the two of us. Our ride was on time at 11 a.m. and we had to drive 30 minutes to reach Rio Serrano. The horses looked amazing and we were quickly suited up in gear. Of course the scenery here was drop dead gorgeous and we enjoyed our long ride immensely. The horses are very well taken care of and the farm dogs ran along keeping them in check. The biggest surprise was wading into a lake and galloping for the first time ever! Such a thrill. Back at the campsite, we heard the news that Futoshi had gotten his passport, money and wallet stolen when he hung it up to dry in the bathroom. Apparently his tent had gotten soaked during the downpour last night and he was trying to dry everything out. Robby decided to drink and help out cook group while I watched some tv. By dinner time, Robby was drunk on rum and being aggressively rude to Alli about being a vegetarian. No one had seen him in that state before and it was not a pleasant experience. The camp resident huemule deer strolled through the campsite and thrilled all the campers as they are quite rare to see in the wild. No shower tonight and it was another cold night in the tent. Looking forward to our hostel tomorrow!
30 Nov – Torres del Paine – Puerto Natales
Breakfast at 8:30 was too late for most people who were up by 7:30 instead! Danny had been a very good boy indeed this morning. Oasis HQ wanted a video of him coming out of his tent at a beautiful camp spot and he couldn’t have chosen a better location that Lake Pehoe. He moved his tent at 4:30 am and filmed himself coming out of his tent. Some good editing later and it looked like a professional video! Well done Danny! I took a hot shower before having breakfast of cereal. Then the huemul deer came to say goodbye to us, and we drove back to Puerto Natales. Some gorgeous views on this spectacular sunny day as we exited the park…Torres del Paine on a sunny day is absolutely stunning. We were back in Puerto Natales by 12:30 and had 2 hours to grab lunch and do any last minute shopping. We had a picnic with Hanna and Jason on the truck and then walked around Puerto Natales for a while. By 2:30, we were dropped off at the hostel where we quickly claimed our old beds again. The afternoon was very productive as the internet here is super fast so we were able to upload photos, get caught up on trip notes, and work on the website for a bit. Dinner was mac and cheese with tuna which we whipped up in the kitchen. Everyone else ordered pizza but at 10,000 Pesos each, we thought it was too expensive. Tomorrow we leave for a bush camp, so all of us are appreciating a warm comfortable bed to sleep in tonight!
1 Dec – Puerto Natales – San Gregorio
Got up and found out that Mitch and Emily got the deal they were looking for to book Antarctica. So we bid farewell to them and Futoshi as we drove south towards Ushuaia. First we had to pick up the W trekkers and Alli hatched this elaborate story that Mitch and Brenda got into a huge fight over Brexit and Mitch got physical with Giles when he intervened. Jeremy and Rebeca bought the story hook, line and sinker and we wondered how long we could keep the prank going. First stop was at San Gregorio’s shipwreck / abandoned ghost town. We took a bunch of pictures and Robby hung upside down on the chain with his legs until they gave out and he landed on his head. Then we took a ferry across from Punta Delgada to Bahia Azul. An impatient bus driver side swiped us and damaged the mirror and side of his bus. Will blasted the horn and had to swap insurance to get the issue resolved. We spotted dolphins on the ferry ride. Truck lunch on the other side of the crossing and then a visit to the King penguin colony at a nature reserve. Entrance was 12000 Pesos and there were only about 100 penguins, plus we had to stay on a boardwalk so Robby opted out. Apparently the penguins showed up 9 years ago and are the northern most King penguin colony in the world. Our bush camp was just up the street at a refuge shelter with a bathroom. The Swiss couple biking from Alaska to Ushuaia the past 18 months did not look impressed when we rocked up, ha. Cook group whipped up chili for dinner which was tasty. We stayed up chatting for a bit before hitting the sack to watch Animal Kingdom’s finale. A king penguin vocalized during the night and I could hear it despite my earplugs!
2 Dec – San Gregorio – Ushuaia, Argentina
Poor cook group had to make breakfast in the rain at 5:30 am. We were up at 6 and everything was packed and on the truck before breakfast. Sam and Bert had fried up shredded potatoes and an egg with grilled peppers for breakfast….very fancy for a bush camp breakie! Spongebob had a flat tire so that delayed our departure by an hour while Will, Rob and Robby helped to swap it out. Once on the road, it was Monopoly time until the border. Thankfully, getting stamped out of Chile and entering into Argentina was a breeze with no luggage being inspected at either customs office.