After a quick stop in Puerto Varas (terrible hostel, terrible weather) we squeezed onto a local minibus with all our luggage and travelled the thankfully short 30 minute journey to Puerto Montt, our boarding place for the Navimag.
A few years ago the Navimag ferry company caught onto the idea that it ain’t that easy to get to Torres del Paine national park and that people were hitching rides on the freighters that trundled between Puerto Montt and Puerto Natales. Kerching! So now you can enjoy all the luxury of a freighter at the price of a luxury cruise ship – and yes that does include cargo, chilean truck drivers and, at certain times of the year, trucks full of cows….
We were lucky, the cows were safely in fields and replaced by a herd of 4×4 trucks being transported south. Despite the horror stories you read on the internet the food, accommodation and staff were excellent and more importantly the weather was dry and the waves were more like ripples, even on the notoriously bad 12 hour long ocean stretch. Add to this some of the most scenic views in the world, a great crowd of like-minded travellers and a 2 litre carton of red wine – we had a cracking trip! 4 days on board with 3 nights accommodation, 3 meals a day, “entertainment” and cruising 700+ miles through the fjords, sure beats the other option – 36 hours on a bus on windy dirt roads!
Our accommodation was a double cabin with bunks, lockers (or drinks cabinet as we prefer to call them) window and en suite bathroom (with bearably warm water). The meals were served canteen style and the bar was a sofa filled spot where inexplicably the whole ship played bingo on the last night. If you won a round of bingo you were made to dance solo at the front of the room before you got your prize – is ritual humiliation really worth it for a bottle of wine? Apparently it is if you are Chilean or German
708 miles, 4 days and a couple of whale sightings later we arrived in Puerto Natales about half a stone heavier, several friends richer and more relaxed than ever.
Having dismissed cruising as not our thing… we think it might just be…
Now for some exercise!