Sunday, 17 May 2015

Journey from Ushuaia to Puerto Natales

The bus ride from Ushuaia to Puerto Natales was ARG 950 peso and it was a journey to Chile stopping at Punto Arenas before changing bus to go to Puerto Natales. Long journey and expected to arrive late in the evening if everything goes well. For some reason I decided not to book hostels in advance and I guess was lucky for the choice as delays were inevitable in Patagonia.

Same border crossing into Chile and the same drill of custom checks to ensure no fresh food, livestock or illegal stuff was crossing over the other side. Chile was pretty strict when it comes to customs. Immigration was simple and before we knew it were off on our way in Chile territory.

The ferry crossing. Ushuaia is not really on the continent but in fact on a damn large island at the southern tip of South America. Therefore if going by land the ferry crossing at Magellan Straits was unavoidable. On a good day like the day I travelled from Rio Gallegos to Ushuaia the ferry crossing took 30 minutes with barely any waiting time. On a bad weather day like today going out to Punto Arenas only luck can assist you.

The bus driver meanwhile enjoyed toying with the passenger’s on the bus. If the ferry comes and we leaves this side of the shore before 7pm we should just make it to Punta Arenas for the connecting bus to Puerto Natales at 9pm but else all hope is doomed.
Anxious people on the bus kept looking across the bay and at their watch at the same time. We set our eyes upon the ferry across the strait and try to will it to come to our side. The hours pass and the sun set while the moon rises before the sea weather was good enough for the ferry to make the trip. By the full moon that rise across the horizon I was now calm again. I figured that if things go wrong and lots of people are stress out to find a place to stay, or to get the connecting bus I was sure I could just quietly tag along and let them do all the hard work worrying.
The bus driver was kind enough to help those with hostel bookings in Puerto Natales to call them up and hopefully postpone or cancel their one night booking. Suddenly my stubbornness paid off and I was glad I did not do any booking and was pretty sure I would have a hostel in Punta Arenas with the amount of stranded people around me.

Ferry at Straits of Magellan
About 10 pm the boat finally arrived once the weather permits and we all rushed to get moving and boy was the ferry rocky as hell for better weather. We reached Punta Arenas nicely at 12 midnight and the bus driver said if no one has a place to stay in Punta Arenas he could drive and drop us at the Patagonia Hostel. About 10000 Chileno Peso a night and all of us poor stranded souls huddle together and stayed on the bus onwards to the hostel.
Punta Arenas, I would have love to stop there longer but time did not permit and hence I had decided when in Ushuaia I would skip it entirely other than the connecting bus. A sign from above that I had to camp there for the night I guess and the next morning onwards to Puerto Natales. Thou we all shared a cab to get to the bus stop from the hostel I ended up paying the entire fare for the hostel. 2000 peso for the two people with me had no Chileno peso at all at that time and I was not in the mood to collect.

Bus ticket from Punta Arenas to Puerto Natales fortunately was exchangeable for a new timeslot the next day. By the looks of the bus attendant this was a normal ritual and we all go on for a few hours ride to Puerto Natales.

There is a saying in Patagonia …. You can’t predict the weather here …. Despite what your phone says.

What an exciting day.  

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