The one bad thing about Patagonia is that it’s BIG. We were in El Calafate, Argentina, and our next destination, Puerto Natales, Chile, was a 5-ish hour bus ride away. 5-ish hours “depending on the amount of congestion at the border”. We were on South American time. This post might give you an idea of what the travel days were like.
After breakfast we caught a cab to the bus terminal and said hi to all the adorable dogs again.
The bus ride was five hours of…. nothing! Sort of reminded me of some areas of New Mexico. But the bus seats were assigned, so we hankered down and listened to some Freakanomics podcasts (David’s favorite) together. I really enjoyed some of their podcasts related to environmentalism and local food. I like the way they question assumptions and back up their arguments with numerical data.
The bus had to keep making stops for guanacos (llama like animals) crossing the road, but finally we arrived at the border. There are two sides to the border and lots of lines. When you arrive in Chile you get 3 small pieces of paper and are told NOT to loose them! They are your ticket out.
I had also read the Chileans will throw away all your food and was freaking out about having granola bars, but it ends up they really only cared about fresh foods, meats, and jams.
Another couple of hours later, we arrived in Puerto Natales at our hotel (more of a hostel) Erratic Rock 2. We later heard from other travelers that there are nicer options that are still cheap, in case you want an upgrade. Puerto Natales isn’t a bad little city; some might like it’s character – I don’t have the right word for it though. Not really quaint, not that run-down (though fairly cheap) and a little dreary. But it’s nestled in a bunch of Chilean fjords, so it’s a bit of a port town.
Our first order of business after checking in was to walk around and get some real food! We found a bakery and stared in the window until someone opened it – then split a heavenly empanada, this time the option was meat with some hard boiled egg. And so as not to disappoint all you dog lovers, yes, there were a ton of cute, sweet dogs in Chile too!
Then we walked around a lot to freshen up our legs after sitting on the bus most of the day, and found the highest see-saw ever! I’m guessing these are outlawed in the US by now for safety reasons.
Puerto Natales is pretty inexpensive, so we bought some last-minute hiking gear and then grabbed a meal at El Living, a really cool little vegetarian restaurant you wouldn’t have expected in this small town. We had our meals then splurged on an apple-rhubarb pie – divine! Had to prepare for our big hikes ahead – the next five days would be backpacking across Torres del Paine National Park.