Thursday, 17 January 2008

Punta Arenas, Chile

Fly south from B.A. to Ushuaia then overland /sea west to Punta Arenas then north to Torres Del Paine then north east to El Calafate for flight back to B.A.

Ferry thru Mageallan Straits

Punta Arenas, Chile

After a few pleasant days in Ushuaia, I hopped on a 12 hour bus ride across the border to Chilean Patagonia. It was yet another drawn out border crossing but this time, for whatever reason we didn't have to offload the bags for inspection. The journey heads north from Ushuaia to Rio Grande on the Atlantic coast. The roads then swings west and the bus literally squeezes onto a ferry which is docked beside a rather disconcerting 'Danger - Minefield' sign. It takes twenty minutes to cross the Magellan Straits into Chile and then its only ninety minutes to Punta Arenas on the Pacific coast.

Punta Arenas is a small colourful city with 100,000 inhabitants (approx the same as Ushuaia). There's not an awful lot to do or see in the city itself (a couple of museums) and most people use it as the landing point before heading north to Puerto Natales and eventually Torres Del Paine national park. I spent the night and the following day, I headed to the airport to meet up with a friend who was coming back from a three month stint working as a weatherman in Antarctica. After a bit of confusion at the car hire desk, and a pit stop to pick up provisions, we set off north for 6 days exploring the national park. The plan was to get to the park the same day (about a five hour drive) and do 2 nights camping and 3 nights in refugios which are hostal style accomodation set up at strategic points within the park. It had been a long time since I had been camping and I hadn't been overly active for a while so it remained to be seen how the the experience would go and weather was going to play a crucial factor, but why did I need to worry, sure I had an 'expert forecaster' in the car!


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