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No Worries 'Mas o Menos' 2 years on the road, travelling South East Asia, China, South & Central America and who knows where after that... Photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/dojo77/collections/

Yes, it's Chilly in Chile!

CHILE | Tuesday, 23 March 2010 | Views [1616]

Punta Arenas was our first stop in Chile but luckily, with the country being over 4000km long we were very far south of the earthquake damaged region. The town sits on the Magellan Strait in Chilean Patagonia, and the winds and temperature coming up from Antartica were a shock for us, I can safely say it is chilly in Chile!

Arriving at the bus station I was introduced to the warmth of the people when the mother and daughter I had been sitting opposite to on the bus came up to me to say goodbye, giving me hugs and kisses and hoping I would enjoy my stay in Punta Arenas. I had hardly spoken to them but the girl spoke a little English and she hoped I wouldn’t be too cold there. How lovely is that! I can safely say, it’s also warm in Chile.

The town has one of the ‘must see’ cemeteries in South America, which, kind of spookily, was located right opposite our hostel. It has an eclectic mix of tombs for the wealthy, plus cheaper versions at the back of the site, a cemetery estate, where you better hope you like your neighbours.

Our hostel wins our award for the cutest one we have stayed in so far, with a little kitchen area for us to cook our dinner. We have started to cook for ourselves now mainly to save some money as eating out is not cheap in this part of South America. Of course the winning choice for the meal was the obligatory hostel pasta dish.

That’s not to say we don’t eat out at all, but after trying the national dish, a hotdog completo, we wished we had stuck with the supermarket offerings. It comes smothered in avocado, tomato and way too much mayonnaise. It should come with a health warning sticker on it.

And that is really all Punta Arenas has to offer, it’s a sleepy fishing village and a gateway into Chile, with a snoozy lifestyle.

Puerto Natales

Our next stop in Chile is home to a famous human sized sloth discovered in 1896, some believe a real life Chewbacca and something the town is very proud of,  displaying the image all over the town.

The town is very quiet and has a real frontier feel to it. Apart from the odd fishing boat waiting to be fixed, the weekly Navimag ferry sending passengers off through the Chilean fjords, and an excellent standard of hostel rooms, there is nothing else to see or do in the town itself.

But what it does offer is a gateway to the Torres del Paine National Park and a place to get information and geared up for trekking adventures. It was going to be where we took our trekking to another level by carrying our beds on our backs for a camping expedition. However, rather disappointingly, I managed to hurt my neck and was unable to carry a backpack just one day before we planned to set off, so we had to minimise the five day trip to just one day.

The name of the park means Towers of Pain and we chose to do the tough 8 hour trek to get up close to the main feature of the park.

And it lived up to it’s name causing us both pain. The trek was uphill all the way for 4 hours with a back breaking scramble over rocks and boulders to top it off whilst being snowed on. On top of that the park is famous for it's howling winds that often are strong enough to knock trekkers right off their feet and we felt the full force of these in the exposed areas.

But it was worth it despite the bad knees and aches we both suffered the next day, it managed to get the trekking blood flowing back in our veins, with claims of “I’m sure I can conquer Everest” being heard. It was a long day but it was topped off by seeing the park at sunset and meeting a skunk, thankfully not close up.

And that is it for Chile, a very brief encounter for the time being. We met a guy from Santiago who told us about the damage he has seen but he said that Chile is opening up to tourists now, except for the areas badly damaged by the quake. So hopefully, after another stint in Patagonia across the border, we can head back into Chile in a few weeks time.

Oh I forgot to mention the beer. This time we were treated to a Calafate berry flavoured ale...a fruity little number!

Until then,

Jo & Ryan

Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dojo77/collections/72157623648048574/

Tags: puerto natales, punta arenas, torres del paine, trekking

 

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