Puerto Natales, Chile
51° 44' S 72° 31' W
Dec 01, 2003 19:20
Distance 27km

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Text written in: English

Puerto Natales (1 - 2 December 2003)

We got up at 6:20 and had breakfast together, except for the Israelis who decided to get up later. Around 7:30 we walked up the hill to the small city centre and found the small bus company. It was not more than a small shuttle bus who brought is to Puerto Natales, 30 km away from Rio Turbio. We were the only bus at the border crossing so the stamping in and out of Argentina and Chile did not take more than 20 minutes or so. The pass across the Andes was very low but the scenery changed dramatically. The Argentinean side was dry and relatively flat and the Chilean side was beautiful. In the far distance you could see Puerto Natales, lying on the shores of Seno Ultima Esperanza (Last Hope Sound), one of the inlets between the spectacular snowcapped fjords South Chile is famous for. Everything was quite green, cause this side of the Andes catches all the rain.

Puerto Natales is a tourist village of 18.000 people and this part of Chile can only be reached by road through Argentinia. Buses to the rest of Chile in the north only go via Argentina's east coast as gravel route 40, which runs along the Andes on the Argentinean side is not good enough for bus trips. The other option of getting to Puerto Natales is by boat from Puerto Montt in the north, a four day trip through the Chilean fjords which costs a minimum of US$ 250.

The pretty town is focused on the nearby (120 km) Parque Nacional Torres de Paine. People who think they know something about quality of parks say that this park is the most beautiful park on the continent and should not be missed. I found myself a very nice and quiet residencial, two streets from the main road through the centre and I had an excellent room with TV, very good beds and a good kitchen I could use. So for the first time in South America I decided to cook for myself. The rest of the day I used to get information about the national park I was going to visit the following days and organise food, fuel for my stove and transportation to the park.