Navimag ferry -Puerto montt to Puerto natales

I decided that a more interesting way of heading to Southern Patagonia would be to take a boat, so I booked myself on to the 4 day cargo ferry to Puerto natales. I arrived early at the port and met a couple of other girls also getting the boat, who luckily spoke excellent English! We headed over to go and get onto our boat and as we had our tickets checked we realised we were all in the same cabin! We headed up to our cabin, which was suprisingly spacious with an en suite bathroom, dropped off our bags and went out to explore.
We quickly found out that the cargo was not live (a relief since a number of people had led me to believe this would be the case) and that there were only 30 passengers on the ship, only 6 who were English speaking. This seemed to be no big issue as we quickly ended up chatting with other passengers, our favourites became 2 Chilean lorry drivers who seemed to have a real soft spot for us all!
The first day on the boat it was beautiful sunshine and we were all out on deck enjoying the warmth. We saw the most amazing sunset and the boat hardly moved at all so there was no seasickness in sight. Dinner much exceeded expectations, whilst it was basic school-type food, we had 3 courses at every meal and there was a lot of it. It is slightly worrying how quickly I get used to this/expect this!
Our second day was not quite as we had come to expect. It was grey, overcast and cold when we got up and as the day progressed it started snowing. We couldn’t see any of the wonderful scenery we had hoped for. To add to this one of the ferry staff came around at lunchtime offering us all seasickness tablets as he told us it was going to get rough as we went out into open sea. As someone who has suffered from seasickness before I took the tablet immediately, just as I was told that it would make me drowsy. I spent most of the afternoon asleep as a result. Not that I missed much, as the weather remained poor. That night the boat lurched around a lot, whilst I did not get sick it was not a fun night. Very few people got any sleep at all that night.
The following day was a completely different day. We had a lovely clear day with sunshine most of the day. As a result we saw lots of fantastic scenery including the very impressive fjords. We were also lucky enough to see seals and dolphins which was totally unexpected. The boat was back in between the mainland coast and the numerous islands off the coast, which meant we were back to a steady boat and a sea looking like a mill pond.
One of the great things about there being so few of us on the boat is that you ended up chatting to lots of different people. Many of the people on the boat were there with work, either directly with their cargo or heading south with work. As I mentioned earlier, we made particular friends with 2 lorry drivers from a town near Santiago. They were great fun and incredibly tolerant to my stilted conversation due to my needing to translate everything before I can understand or say it! One of my favourite conversations I had I summarise below:
Toledo (chilean lorry driver) – do you know the pirate Francis Drake?
Me – what? Pirate? He isn’t a pirate, he is… (I burst out laughing)
Toledo – Do you not know him?
Me – I know him. Its just in England we see him as an explorer or a conquistador. Not a pirate.
Toledo – No, he is definitely a pirate.
Me – Yes. From a South American perspective he probably is. I just had never thought about it like that.
Both of us are laughing at this point. Difficult to know if Toledo has understood enough of what I have said for us both to be laughing at the same thing, but it seemed like progress in our friendship!
Our final day on the boat was pretty clear again, so we were able to admire the views of the islands that hug the mainland. At around midday we arrived in Puerto Natales, which marked the end of our voyage. After some fond farewells we all headed off in our various directions. However, the 6 of us English speakers stuck together and all headed to the same hostel in order to start our preparations for the imminent 4 day trek in the nearby Torres del Paine national park.


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