Back to Chile
After our extreme trekking days in El Chaltén, we took a bus to enter Chilean territory again. We wanted to have an idea of what the Chilean Patagonian looked like. We had heard that it's greener than the Argentinian side due to the rains and, in some ways, more spectacular as the coast is defined by thousands of islands. So we went back to El Calafate, stayed there for one night and took a bus to Puerto Natales, the nearest town to Torres del Paine.
We arrived very late at our hostel but it still felt like late afternoon as there was still some daylight. Being summer, daylight lasted until 11 pm, which in some way was tricking our body clocks and making us more tired everyday. We booked a tour for the next day to visit the national park Torres del Paine, the most spectacular in Patagonia. Trekkings there last minimum 5 days, and we weren't in the mood of walking/camping again, so we decided to make it nice and easy for once.
The tour lasted the whole day, from 7:30 am until 18:00...long but totally worth it. The tour guide first drove us to a cave and from there we continued to the first lookout of Torres del Paine. The mountain that gives the name to the park is as stunning as the Fitz Roy, except this time we were observing it from a distance. We stopped by a lake full of guanacos, an animal similar to the llama, and from that moment on it was just one great view after another. Lakes, waterfalls, mountains, glaciers, and extreme wind were part of our day in the Chilean Patagonia. The weirdest thing was hearing two women talk in mallorquín, thousands of km away from Spain, it seemed pretty random!!
The next day it was Sunday and general election day, so all bars/restaurants that sell alcoholic beverages were shut. We had to walk through the whole of Puerto Natales to get some food before taking another bus to Punta Arenas. Just two hours away, Punta Arenas is one of the mandatory stops of all cruise ships to go visit the colonies of pinguins around the area. We stayed two nights to visit the Magdalena Island, in the middle of the Strait of Magallanes. Around 60000 pinguins live there from October to March during the breeding period, and when you get off that island you see thousands of these little guys around you. They're tiny, just 50 cm tall, and really funny. We had never seen pinguins in their natural habitat before, so we got to learn some interesting aspects about their behaviour, it was a shame we couldn't touch them...
Punta Arenas and Puerto Natales themselves are uninteresting places, but yet good to go to for what you can visit around them. The cold weather was annoying us, especially the wind...but luckily we wouldn't have to stand it for long; our last stop in Southern Argentina was Ushuaia, after that it would just be sun and heat, starting in Buenos Aires :-)