Day 12 – Friday 19th October 2018
El Chalten – Puerto Natales
By plane – 0
By foot – 11.8kms/ 7.32miles
By public transport – 269kms/167miles
Steps taken – 18,055
So after catching the 8am bus in El Calafete, leaving there in full glorious conditions with blue skies and no wind, we have arrived in Puerto Natales five hours later, crossing the border between Argentina and Chile, with an equally amazing day!
I should also say here that we got more amazing long distance views of Fitz Roy who was in full glory this morning saying her goodbyes to us as we travelled!
Border control I felt was a strange experience. On leaving Argentina we came into what appeared to be no man’s land which was a gravel track, book-ended on either side by an Argentinian and Chilean border control check point.
On leaving Argentina we all had to vacate the bus, go into a wooden hut and show passports then get back in the bus.
Argentina border control
We literally drove say five minutes then the bus stopped again and we had to vacate the bus this time with all our wordly goods on the Chile side.
Chile border control
We had to fill in an entry form, show passports and have our bags x-rayed…I should say here there was one guy on the ‘passport’ counter, and two guys working the x-ray machine…if a bag was deemed dodgy the whole process was stopped until the bag was opened and searched.
Now I should also point out here that our coach was massive and full with people and another coach had arrived also full of people…need I explain/say anymore on the subject of border control/crossings?
Well I will actually because we need to do this all over again in around a week’s time!! Yeah look forward to that whole experience.
So we were eventually good to go, the gate was unpaddlocked by one of the two guys on the x-ray machine (so that must have haulted that process again) and we entered Chile.
The divider…if Independence happened in Scotland, would border control between Scotland and England look like this 😂?
Not far into leaving Argentina and crossing over to Chile you could see the landscape changing. Hills were covered in grass, there was lots of grassland with grazing cattle, they do say it rains much more in Chile and these were some of the obvious signs.
We eventually reached Puerto Natales which is a town in the Chilean Patagonia. It is the gateway to trekking in the Torres del Paine National Park, which feeds of tourism.
The small waterside town and surrounding area is often overlooked for the park itself, but there appears to be plenty of things to see and do here and it’s busy, more so with locals it seems.
Corrugated-tin houses are strung shoulder to shoulder and in spite of many visitors the town still maintains the glacial pace of living endemic to Patagonia.
From here we will catch a bus on Sunday morning to take us to our hiking destination, a two hour journey.
We plan to hike the W Circuit in Torres del Paine which is a multi-day hike and if you look at a map you’ll quickly realise why it’s called the W Trek (route shaped like a letter W).
We had originally planned to hike The O Circuit which is a longer nine day hike but we were told this was not possible as some mountain passes were still closed due to high levels of snow still sitting….we had experienced a little of that on Fitz Roy so we could only imagine.
This is supposedly one of South America’s premier hikes, with breathtaking views of the Cordillera del Paine in Torres del Paine, the heart of the Chilean Patagonia.
Tonight we explored the town, checking out what was what, just trying to get our bearings for tomorrow as it was going to be a busy day getting organised for the days ahead!
Could this be the meedies?