Saturday 3 November 2012
Highlights: Border Crossing, Car Rally
Today I left Argentina behind for a 4 day trip inside Chile. On a mostly rainy day the tour group caught the bus to Puerto Natales, home our guide. The bus ride only took about 4.5 hours. The border crossing went well which was a surprise as my fellow travellers and the Internet ad some horror stories about the Chilean officials and border checks. In only 10 minutes I had a new stamp and we were away.
We got into Puerto Natales just 6 minutes before the town’s roads were closed for an annual car rally race. Later in the day I got to watch for free but with no crashes and being a cold day I didn’t stay to the end.
Our hotel only has four rooms so our group took over the entire place. It is more a venue for coffee and music at night. I briefly explored the town but most places were closed for the race. I withdrew some local currency, the exchange rate is 497 Chilean pesos to the $1 Australian dollar. Always harder to work out calculations when you get 20,000 notes from an ATM and its only $35 AUD.
At dinner our tour leader explained the next three days which are all major hiking days. We have to leave our main bags in the hotel and carry with us the minimum amount of items possible since we have to carry them while camping. At this point I realised how hard the next few days will be and belatedly hired walking sticks to ease the pressure on my knees. I concluded that if the guide, who does this professionally, needs them than I probably need them, even if just as a backup.
The hotel is set on the coast and offers a great view of the ocean. Hopefully in 3 days time I’ll still appreciate the views instead of being in pain 🙂