Jules’ recording :
We wake up at 7:30am. The night was not great. The loading of the ferry was indeed very noisy. The ferry is a commercial boat going from Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt with trucks full of goods (including horses and cows…); the journey is much shorter by boat than by road (the road goes through Argentina). It’s still 1,500 km by boat though.
Breakfast is at 8am. It’s a self-service; cafeteria-style food.
Kids start their homeschooling sessions; we’ll try to do 3 sessions per day during these 3 days. I sort out my pictures of the last 2 weeks.
We leave on schedule, at noon.
The ferry (the ‘Eden’) is quite old; it was built in 1984. It isn’t luxury; as mentioned, its main purpose is to carry cargo between Puerto Montt and Puerto Natales.It is a cargo boat that also accepts passengers; it is not an expedition cruise.
We will reach Puerto Montt after 3 days of navigation, i.e. Saturday noon.
The day passes very quickly. We go from time to time outside, on the front deck, to admire the great scenery of these quiet Patagonian fjords – not too long because it’s really cold. There is a very narrow passage, quite impressive to pass with such a big boat. We see a sea lion (in the water) and Isabelle sees a condor (on a rock). The scenery is superb. We drift slowly past the desolate snow-covered mountains that surround the narrow channels. It’s a lonely, bleak kind of beauty. Patagonia is full of scenery like this and I think that seeing it from the front deck of a ship is one of the most unique ways of exploring Patagonia.
The weather is unfortunately rather cloudy.
Besides our (short) outdoor exits and homeschooling (and lunch), we are quite “busy”: Isabelle prepares the rest of our trip in Chile, I sort out my pictures, kids play on their devices, Ludivine and Isabelle participate in the yoga session and we all go to the lecture on local fauna. There’s indeed a naturalist on board who gives short talks on the flora and fauna in the area. He also hangs out on the front deck with his huge camera. We can tell he’s passionate about what he does – he’s always up for a chat about anything to do with Patagonia. According to his lecture, with (a lot of) luck, we could see killer whales (orcas), blue whales, humpback whales, albatross, condors… We just need to be lucky, not only that some of them show up but also to be watching at the right time in the right direction…
Dinner is at 7:30pm. We basically have taken a table near the window at breakfast and we’ve kept it the whole day. Food is not great but ok, except for the desserts that Isabelle is the only one to take.
After dinner, we take our showers (not great for the boys – strange since it was good this morning – but apparently good for the girls).
Isabelle and I come back to “our” table to work, till 11pm.
From the website of Navimag, here what they say about this voyage. I find it very correct:
“We are not a cruise, but a ferry, that is to say, a transport vessel of goods and passengers. Although we could say that we are a hostel that navigates across Patagonia. Our service is designed for people who are not looking for luxuries, but rather an authentic journey. For slow travelers and backpackers who want to enjoy the romanticism of traveling in a vessel from the 70’s worthy of the memorable filmed voyages of Jacques Cousteau, and who wish to live the adventure at the end of the world including inclement weather, the disconnection and relaxation that only a remote area can offer, no phone signal, while contemplating the majestic beauty of the Patagonian fjords in southern Chile, some of them untouched areas.”
Vlog by Isabelle: see below.
Wake up with the (loudspeaker) announcement for the breakfast, at 8am.
We take a breakfast and then spend some time outside, to see a beautiful part of the trip. We see again sea lions. The temperature is cold (the fingers hurt).
Even inside the ferry, it’s not warm. Today, I not only put my trekking shoes like yesterday but also my 2 merinos (long T-shirt and long pants).
Kids then do homeschooling; I prepare our trip to Peru.
The day again passes quickly, with 2 yoga session for Ludivine (Jules joins her for one of them), one lecture for Isabelle (on flora and geology), homeschooling sessions and tours on the deck (with sunny moments).
We also stop, quite briefly (45’) to Puerto Edén, a tiny hamlet. It is considered one of Chile’s most isolated inhabited places. It indeed does not get more isolated than this: it is only accessible by sea (on the Navimag ferry on which we are navigating) and it takes at least 24 hours to get there. There are no roads, only pedestrian boardwalks connecting the houses and shops. Its population is less than 200. It owns an extraordinarily humid climate.
Before dinner, we play Doodle while eating chips as aperitif. We also play ‘Loup Garou’ (‘The Werewolves of Millers Hollow’ in English) for the first time of our trip (we’ve been carrying 5 small board games + 3 individual ‘smart games’ since July).
We take a pill for the seasickness (except the 2 girls), as recommended by the crew. Tonight the ferry indeed goes out of the fjords, in the open ocean and the captain expects waves up to 5m, which is apparently the maximum acceptable for the cattle that are on the vessels; above 5 m, the captain shelters the boat.
Isabelle and the kids are in bed by 9pm, while I sort out my pictures. The vessels rocks quite a lot (chairs are sliding in the cafeteria). I go to bed around 11pm.
We wake up at 8am, with the breakfast announcement.
We’re all fine, except Ludivine who doesn’t feel well.
The ferry still rocks a bit but not as strongly as yesterday. No homeschooling for the kids. I play board games with Florence and Jules and the Canadian family. Kids then play without me.
I finish sorting out the pictures of the last 2 weeks and I continue preparing Peru while Isabelle figures out how to reach Santiago (how many days to go up, from Puerto Montt?, stop in Valparaiso before Santiago?…).
We spend most of the day in the cafeteria of the ferry. We will probably have spent more than 40 hours in it… The weather is not great today and the scenery is not as good as the days before (we are in open ocean until 2pm) so we go out much less often than yesterday and the day before.
Florence and Jules play with the 4 girls of the Canadian family. It doesn’t happen often that they have friends so we skip the other homeschooling sessions (we had foreseen to do 3 session per day on the ferry). Jules really likes to play with the ‘Plus-Plus’ construction bricks; he later on told us that it was one of his best days of the trip…
We speak also to other tourists. It’s interesting to notice that most of the tourists on this ferry travel for long periods of time (often for one year, also around the world). It’s true that you need time during your trip to spend nearly 4 days on a boat. It’s nice to take part of this kind of “slow travel” experiences.
After dinner, we again play “Loup Garou”. We have a good time.
I write a bit for the blog, still in the cafeteria. As the other evenings, as from 10pm, I’m the only tourist, with the local passengers (mainly the truck drivers), who watch soap tv shows. I go to bed around 11:30pm.
This morning we woke up in the boat and there was a wonderful sunrise. Then we went to eat. It wasn’t really good as always. Then we went to prepare our luggage and that was kinda hard because I had put my stuff everywhere around the cabin. When we finally finished we did one session of home schooling but I didn’t have anything to do so I read. When we were done working we played a bit and then it was time to eat lunch. It was a bit better than breakfast but still not good. So after that we had to wait like 1h for the boat to park. So when that was finally over, we took a transfer to go to the bus terminal. At the bus terminal, mom and dad went to try to find a bus for Valparaiso and at the same time try to find seats that go flat. They managed to find two that almost go flat and three that go halfway. The kids got the three that went halfway. So when they finally found that, we went to sit down where they had tables because we were gonna stay there for 3h. Then we found the tables and mom stayed with the luggage while the rest of us went to go get a dinner. We found a super market but it wasn’t really good. We found bananas, avocado, cereals and much more. Some of this stuff were for the morning in the bus. So we paid and then Jules and dad got some empanadas while Ludivine got chicken and I got a hamburger. It wasn’t the best meal ever. When we were finished, we played a couple rounds of « loup-garou ». Then we had to go onto the bus. It was really not comfortable and there was a movie playing and there was someone snoring so it was really hard to fall asleep. I finally fell asleep and then that was the day. Bye.
Wake up at 8am, followed by a breakfast.
Homeschooling session for the kids. We also pack our bags. We should arrive around 3pm in Puerto Montt. We have a bit of delay due to the heavy wind (100 km/h) that we’ve faced during the trip.
We see a blue whale from far (just the blows in fact) and a sea lion.
We have 3G network for a few minutes and Isabelle checks the weather forecast. Sunny weather in Valparaiso and Santiago but rain to reach there. So we might forget about our idea to rent a car for 2-3 days to go North and instead take a direct (night) bus to go directly to Valparaiso. It could be a solution since there are apparently comfortable buses (with fully reclining seats). Let’s see the possibilities when we arrive in Puerto Montt.
We eventually arrive in Puerto Montt at around 4pm.
The time to disembark the ship and to reach the town, it’s 5:30pm when we arrive at the bus terminal of Puerto Montt.
We leave the kids with all the luggage (we’re more cautious in South America, especially in a bus terminal) and we try to find a direct (night) bus to Valparaiso, where we would like to spend a few days before our final destination in Chile, Santiago, where we intend to spend 10 days (we’ve been “on the road” since Queenstown).
We are already late (buses depart in 2 or 3 hours) and we can only find 2 ‘salon camas’ (comfortable reclining seats) and ‘semi camas’ (normal semi-reclining seats) for the kids. We have to decide quickly and we take the next bus departing st 9:30pm. We have 3 hours to wait.
We first try to find a spot where to stay with all our luggage (there are tables and chairs upstairs) and I then go to a supermarket downstairs, with the kids. The supermarket is not great but we find a few things (avocados, apples, tomatoes, bananas, and cereals for tomorrow’s breakfast). Each of us then buys something from one of the few outlets of the bus terminal (empanadas, burger, chicken or salad). The Canadian family stays with us a bit before taking their bus to Santiago.
We play few games of ‘Loup Garou’ and it’s already time to go.
We go into the bus… for 14 hours and a half… We’re definitely not looking forward. Kids have never done a longer bus journey than 7 hours (which was also in Chile) and I vaguely remember an awful Guatemala City – Mexico City in 1993 I think…
Kids are upstairs and we are downstairs, which I obviously don’t like. Jules is lucky: he has no one besides him.
Isabelle and I don’t sleep very well (never for long periods of time, for sure). It’s not very comfortable. The two times we go and see the kids upstairs, they are sleeping. Good thing…