Wednesday – December 19, 2007 –
This morning we had breakfast before going out for a morning tour of the surrounding mountains. We took a taxi up to the ski resort of Centro de Montana Glaciar Martial. We took the aerosilla, the chairlifts, up to the top of the resort. We hiked up to the Glaciar Martial (385 meters above sea level), where we trekked across the snow to a point with a great view of the Beagle Channel. We could see planes take off from the airport on the spit. It was one of the most beautiful aircraft view spots you could ever imagine.
After taking the ski lift back to ski resort entrance, we took a taxi back down to our hotel. There we checked out of our hotel and picked up our gear before grabbing our bus transfer to the airport. We checked in for our first flight on LAN Chile to Punta Arenas, Chile. After paying our departure tax and going through security, we learned our flight was delayed due to high winds. Then when we grabbed some bocadillos at an airport lounge before our flight to Ushuaia. Our flight was supposed to leave at 3:15 p.m., but it ended up not leaving until 4:30 p.m. We arrived in Punta Arenas at around 5:30 p.m.
After a long line through customs, we expected we had missed our pre-booked transfer. Unbelievably, they were still waiting on us about one and one half hours late. The other guests on the microbus waiting for us looked like they were losing their patience. This was the part of the trip where we could not afford to miss connections because we were highly dependent on public transportation and had a number of cross-border connections over several days.
The Bus Fernandez connection took us towards Puerto Natales. Along the way, we stopped at the Estancia Pecket Harbour, about 43 km north of Punta Arenas. Our Chilean guide, Silviana, took us on a tour to a colony of Magellanic penguins. It was a privilege to see such a large colony of these small, but curious and social penguins. Silviana told us a number of legends about Patagonia on our tour and during the narration as we headed up the road. We were talking in Spanish, and she took great pride in being from Patagonia. She said she was curious about the rest of the world, but this is where she wanted to always live and die one day. I thought that was very interesting.
That evening, we arrived in Puerto Natales at around 10:30 p.m. where our bus dropped us off at our accommodations, the Hotel Charles Darwin. Because Chileans eat dinner late, we went down the street and had some incredible Chilean sea bass overlooking the Chilean fjord of the coastal town. The sunset didn’t occur until about 11 p.m. at this low latitude.