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  • Day53

    17/06/17-22/06/17 Patagonia (Chile)

    June 22, 2017 in Chile ⋅ 🌧 10 °C

    17/06/17-22/06/17 Patagonia (Chile)

    Whilst everyone in England has been enjoying a heat wave, we have been enjoying the opposite extreme in Patagonia.

    We flew from Santiago to Punta Arenes, where the air hostess informed us that temperatures outside were a balmy -4 degrees Celsius. Punta Arenes is the furthest south either of us have ever been. From here, we took a bus to Puerto Natales, a small town where, if it hadn't been for all the snow, we felt as if we could be in an old Western film.

    We spent the night there, before hiring a car and driving to the National Park, Torres del Paine. On the morning of leaving, we thought we would make the most of the day and leave nice and early. We told our hostel we would want breakfast at 7am. When our alarms went off in the morning it was pitch black but we could hear the lady running our hostel clattering around getting breakfast ready. It was only then we decided to check when sunrise was.... 10am. We felt bad so got up and had breakfast before going back to bed for two hours so that we could leave in day light. She must have thought we were crazy!

    The park covers 1810 square km, and has some spectacular scenery and impressive animals. On our first drive through the park to our hotel, we spotted many guanaco (cross between a deer and llama) that would leap across the road unexpectedly, birds of prey – including a condor carrying the remains of a poor animal and an owl hunting, nandus (ostrich like birds) and most excitingly a puma! If it hadn't been for a tour bus stopped in the middle of the road with tourists taking photos of it, we think we would have missed it. Unfortunately we did not get the opportunity to take a good picture as it stalked it's way out of site too quickly.

    We were told that we were lucky to see it by the hotel owner, apparently it's quite rare! Our hotel was in a stunning location, situated on an island on Lake Pehoe. We had to cross a footbridge to reach it. The island was surrounded by mountains, and we were lucky to have a mountain view from our room.

    We spent three days doing walks around the park and enjoying the amazing scenery which consisted of snow capped mountains, waterfalls and turquoise lakes. It was very picturesque. Due to it being winter, there were few other tourists, and so we were able to enjoy everything without large crowds. It was truly stunning. Tom made it his mission to see another puma, until we spotted a puma print in the snow whilst out walking on our last day. We reacted by panicking and running home.... In hindsight we have found out that that is not the way to react if met with a puma. You should instead make yourself as big as possible, by raising your hands above your head, and never turning your back to them. At least we now know what to do if we ever see a puma lurking in the streets of Southampton.

    We returned to Puerto Natales, and were greeted by two forms of bad news. Firstly, our pre booked Hostel had cancelled our booking due to “maintenance issues” (we think it's because of the early breakfast thing) and secondly the buses to El Calafate, our next destination, had been cancelled until the weekend. We looked at various options available, and considered staying until the weekend, but with little else happening in the area felt that it was a waste of our time.

    Fortunately for us, the man we rented a car from took pity on us and offered to drive us there for a reasonable fee, which meant we were able to keep to schedule and finally cross the border into Argentina.
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