Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt Ferry

ihana.com - big trip - diary - chile - march 2003

Pink and welcoming

Its your move

Cruising through the fjords of Chile

Thursday 20 - Monday 24 March

After the excitement of the Torres we spent a day chilling out in Puerto Natales. This is easy because its freezing cold and there's plenty of cafes to sit in. The one with the only reasonably attractive chilean doris we've seen so far was the automatic favourite.

The ferry arrived in the afternoon and passengers had to be on board around 9pm ready to sail in the early morning. We returned to the ticket office late, as advised by the guy there, in the hope of getting our 4 berth cabin assigned to ourselves. There are three grades of cabin; 'A' which is dormitory type bunks in corridors for US$250 each; 'AA' which are 4 berth cabins for $400 or a special 'with car' deal (which we got) where they cost $200 and the car $120, and the luxury $800 'AAA' cabins with only 2 berths. Our ticket only had 'AA' written in the cabin box but the ticket bloke wrote an extra 'A' before the cabin number. Wicked, top class for peanuts prices!

On the bridge

Thin channels to navigate

Rugged coastline

Although its supposed to be luxury the cabins are still small but we had our own bathroom and the bunks are bigger than the plebs have and there was even a desk for the laptop too. The real benefit came when we went into the big dining room for breakfast and were promptly whisked away to dine with the officers and the rest of the first class passengers. We soon got used to the 5 course lunches, 3 course dinners and lashings of wine, what a shame for our fellow backpacker passengers as we'd stagger out from lunch, half drunk to meet them in the pub still recovering from their delicious spaghetti and water. Worse was in store for the impoverished ones as the trailer load of cows, situated on the top car deck just below their bunks, gradually filled the air with potent farmyard odours accompanied by loud sleep-depriving moo-ing.

Dave contemplates the 2 hands, 1 mouth issue

Good luck Robert - climbing Everest soon

Happy first class campers

The journey was four nights, through the stunning Chilean fijords but they were almost always covered in low cloud. As we sailed northwards through the narrow channels, the weather became noticeably warmer until we could be out on deck with a welcome two layers of clothing instead of the usual four. The captain would announce various things to see, like wrecked boats and frolicking whales which never came near enough to get a decent picture.

After 36 hours of sailing we came to the part where we were to be in the open sea for about 10 hours. Right after another 5 course lunch the boat started to pitch front and rearwards in the swell and T started to feel a bit off. Watching a movie is a good distraction and by dinner time the stomach was feeling good again and ready for more food. As dinner started the boat changed course and the pitching became a sideways rolling. B felt fine until making the mistake of sitting facing backwards at dinner time, a sickly shade of green came across his face and it was all over as he fled the dining room and got his seasick badge.

Holes to port

Lifeboat, wicked dorises and travellers first

Sunrise at Puerto Montt

WW2 style police uniforms in Chile

Time flew by on the boat, we spent ages chatting to our fellow 'AAA' passengers, 3 well-travelled couples from California, Canada and France who all had interesting stories to tell and were also willing victims to a ihana.com presentation on the laptop. The rest of the passengers we deigned to mix with, despite their lower status, were a good laugh and we had many a beer in the pub and the odd game of chess. The utter lack of wicked dorises wasn't too bad in the end as we had a great time anyway.

We arrived in Puerto Montt early on Monday morning to a warm sunny day and made our way to the island of Chiloe.


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