In the morning, the campground owner told us of a shortcut to Puerto Montt which, of course, got us lost.
We arrived there in about 2 hours – right on time. There isn’t too much around. It’s a port city, so it’s primarily meant for sailors to have a good time (if you know what I mean).
The ferry we were supposed to go on broke down, so they gave us a smaller one. We were actually kind of lucky as the next Kumuka group doesn’t get the ferry ride at all, since the main one won’t be fixed until March.
The waiting area for the ferry was quite interesting. It seemed as if a train or a bus wreck occurred right beforehand, as the entire area was filled with different ripped out chairs from various buses. You’ll be able to see what I mean on the picture.
At around 4pm, we started boarding the ferry. Now, keep in mind that a ferry is a ferry is a ferry. It’s a very far cry from being a cruise ship or anything to that sort. It looks very industrial with metal floors, weird ladders, and everything else your usual ferry would have.
On the bottom, all of the trucks were being loaded up. We all had to come on a big platform on the first floor which lifted us on the 2nd one (it actually serves as a lift for cars and truck trailers).
It felt a bit as if we were sheep ordered to go from one place to another. We had a tiny room with 4 bunks and 4 small drawers and pretty much nothing else. The bunks were too short for us, so you kind of had to sleep with your legs crunched up… or diagonally.
Most of the 250 people on the ferry were actually tourists from groups like ours. We met some pretty interesting characters. 2 russians… one of them looks like a Mafiosi, although he claims that he works as an investment banker. The other is a lawyer. They actually turned out to be very cool and very avid travellers – had over 40 countries under their belt.
Met some people from other overland groups. Most of them turned out to have paid a lot more and received a lot less. One of the groups were even placed in the crew cabins on Level D (which wasn’t even on the ferry map) because there was no space for them anywhere else. In the evening, we watched Motorcycle Diaries in the dining room and went to sleep at around 1am.
We woke up a bit late and missed breakfast. Fortunately, after begging a bit for it, we got it.
The morning was spent on the deck – watching the sights, talking, eating, taking pictures, etc. We also started to play a lot of chess with Alex. Over the course of the ferry ride, we wound up playing a ton of games with each other. The bulk of our ride was going through Chilean Fjords – which are small passages between mountains or islands. However, a part of it also took us to the open sea.
When we reached that stage, the waves started rocking the ferry around. I started feeling a bit nauseous, so after fighting it a bit (even the pill didn’t help), I went for a nap. When the dinner time came around, I tried to make it up (never miss a free dinner) but only made it for a few steps and went back to my bunk (with a plastic bag just in case). Alex started feeling crappy, as well, so he joined me in the cabin. Both of us wound up sleeping for about 15 hours through the evening and night.
We came back to the fjords and were passing some surreal places. The clouds are really low and gray, which gives it a mystical atmosphere. Mountain after mountain on both of our sides – completely untouched by man.
The weather in this area is very unpredictable. People say that you can experience all 4 seasons within 1 day, as it came be sunshine one moment and heavy rain the next (which is exactly what kept happening). We haven’t seen any other boats or vessels for the last 3 days, which just added to the experience of being in this secluded space.
In the afternoon, we actually stopped in Puerto Eden – a tiny village on what’s supposed to be the biggest island in Chile.
Only a handful of people live there and most of them survive on government assistance and selling handicrafts to ferry passengers. Man, if this is what Eden looks like, I wonder what Hell is like. There are no roads or sidewalks in the village. Only crudely constructed wooden pathways. It’s rainy and humid. Houses are broken down and the activity in the town looks pretty dead. Every once in a while, somebody tries to sell you something, but pretty much nobody buys their stuff. One of the guys from our group did make it to their only convenience store and bought a box of wine with 800 pesos written on it… for 2,000. As in many places, there is a local price and there is a tourist price. We just spent an hour on the island and then moved on.
A few hours later, it began to rain. The raindrops were sharp, fast and non-stop – like sleet. We got up on the upper deck. The wind was blowing so fast that when you lifted up your arms, you would have trouble bringing them back down against the wind current. Everybody was cuddled up and wearing raincoats. Suddenly, you saw IT. First it was very far, but then we began getting closer to it. Blue and majestic, it stood out of the water like an island. A glacier. It has an interesting blue glow to it and covered a massive area. We got closer to it to get a better look. It was just surreal – glacier in the front, mystical islands in dozens of shades of gray retreating in the back.
During the first part of the day, we saw a few more great views.
We disembarked at around 4pm and began our drive to Torres Del Paine – a Chilean
National Park. The 4 hour drive was like something you would see on a postcard. Vast valleys, mountains, hills, etc. etc. It’s a shame that some thing you just can’t take back with you (not even on a camera). You just have to enjoy it in that specific moment. As usual, we were driving on the dirt roads. Whenever a car would pass us, it would raise a cloud of dust which would absorb our entire truck into it for a good 5-10 seconds.
We entered the park and went to a small campground. According to our guide, it gets very cold and windy here during the night, so hopefully the tent will live up to the pressure. Another adventure tour company – Exodus – actually stopped in the same place we were. They didn’t seem too friendly, though, so we didn’t get a lot of interaction with them.