After a frustrating wait of 6 days, the ever-elusive Navimag ferry finally arrived in Puerto Natales!
Travel to Pt Natales
The bus back to Pt. Natales from El Calafate cost AR$77. Weird as this was cheaper than arriving from Chile for the same trip with the same company, just the other way. That’s South America for you.
The wait in Pt. Natales was indeed long as Navimag changed schedules several times. The ferry from Pt. Montt was delayed a day due to bad weather – 90-kilometre winds. I would rather stay in port with those winds!
Finally, on the Wednesday, Navimag confirmed that the ferry due on the Wednesday would arrive at 10:00 hrs on Thursday. Boarding would be at 21:00 hrs Thursday and the ferry would leave at 06:00 hrs on Friday. Uh huh!
On Thursday morning (after several trips to see Oscar at Navimag), the ferry actually did arrive at 11:30 hrs; late, but at least it was in Pt. Natales.
Said our goodbyes at the hostel that evening to board the ferry, which is a little sad. Almost became residents here after spending 6 nights waiting for the ferry.
The ferry’s accommodation
Our 4-berth cabin with private ensuite and window was cosy. Lucky there is only 2 of us in the cabin as it is a squeeze! Big lockers at the end of the bunks hold packs but I am not sure up to what size. The ensuite could have been cleaner although it was “cleaned” (squirted) with the cabin each morning.
For reasons unknown to us, after midnight, the crew started loading trucks onto the ferry. Whilst we were trying to sleep, all that you could hear was shunting back and forth against steel, and instructions being shouted over the noise. I guess we will have 3 nights to sleep, as long as the weather is kind to us.
A side note
Something of worth to note as it is not advertised is that this ferry carts livestock: cows and horses. We could hear the cows in our cabin. As the voyage matured, so did the smell of livestock excrement, which permeated through the ceiling vent, into our ensuite and cabin! It was quite nauseating and disgusting by the end of the second day let along the fourth.
Also cruel is how these animals are rammed very tight into these trucks and stand upright for 3 nights/4 days, weathering rough seas and conditions. This ferry sails out of the fjords and up via the Pacific Ocean so open seas for around 12 hours, before returning to the calmer waters of the channel to the north again.
After the recent bad weather in this region, which caused numerous delays to our ferry’s arrival, I started to wonder how the four days at sea on this ferry would pan out. I’m hoping that it is a smooth trip as I hear there are many spectacular vistas along the way and the main reason for venturing from Pt. Natales to Pt. Montt on a long ferry trip…