Waiting for the ever-elusive Navimag ferry in Puerto Natales, Chile!

May, 2011

After a frustrating wait of 6 days, the ever-elusive Navimag ferry finally arrived in Puerto Natales, for the journey through Chile’s Southern Patagonian Fjords!

The plan is to hop on a Navimag ferry from Pt. Natales to Pt. Montt through the Chilean fjords in Patagonia, which is a journey over four days and three nights. And at USD$435 per person for a basic cabin (meals included), this is not a particularly cheap trip. As we want the four-berth cabin as a private cabin, then this is an additional cost and the reason for this per person price.

el calafate, puerto natales, south america, argentina, chileTravel back to Pt Natales

After the most incredible experience moon walking on ice on the Perito Moreno Glacier and a little rest in El Calafate, the bus whisked us back to Pt. Natales from El Calafate, at a cost of AR$77.

Weird as this fare is cheaper than arriving from Chile, for the same journey and with the same company. The only difference is the direction in which we are travelling – not much logic there really.


The wait in Pt. Natales has indeed been long as Navimag changed schedules several times.

Many daily walks saw us down at the Navimag office close to the port, in the hope of receiving any sort of update on the ferry’s arrival. At least this is keeping us fit. Luckily, we took the few days’ side trip to the glacier, as we are still waiting.

So, found out today that the ferry from Pt. Montt is delayed another day due to bad weather, which is also seeing over 90-kilometre winds. To be honest, I would rather stay in port with such wind speeds. Especially as the ferry sails out of the fjords’ protected waters and heads out into the Pacific Ocean’s open seas for about 12 hours, which is more exposed, and potentially experiences worse weather. Following the 12 hours, we head back into the channel and protected calmer waters of the fjords, heading north once more.

Finally, today (Wednesday), Navimag confirmed that the ferry due today would actually arrive at 10:00 hrs but on Thursday now. Boarding would commence at 21:00 hrs on Thursday and the ferry is scheduled to leave at 06:00 hrs on Friday.

Uh huh – I hope so…

It feels as if we are never going to leave Pt. Natales and marooned here forever – slight exaggeration on my part.

On Thursday morning (after more trips to see Oscar at Navimag), the ferry did actually arrive at 11:30 hrs. Ok, an hour and a half late, but at least the ferry is in actually in Pt. Natales, which is a great start and a relief.

Said our goodbyes at the hostel this evening to be ready to board the ferry at 21:00 hrs. it’s always sad leaving a hostel when you’ve spent some time there and made friends. Particularly in this hostel, we have met many friendly travellers and hope that our paths cross again. It feels as if we are residents here after spending 6 nights waiting for the ferry.

If you would like to read more on what to do and where to stay in Pt. Natales, then do check out my separate post: Fruit Police – welcome to Chile! Ushuaia to Puerto Natales

The ferry’s accommodation

Finally boarding the ferry, we found our 4-berth cabin with private ensuite and window, which is cosy. Lucky only 2 of us are sharing this cabin as it is a squeeze.

Large lockers at the end of the bunks hold packs but I am not sure up to what size yet. The ensuite could be cleaner.

For reasons unknown to us, after midnight, the crew started loading trucks onto the ferry.

Whilst we tried to sleep, all that was heard was the noisy shunting back and forth against steel, and instructions being shouted over the noise.

I guess we will have three nights on the journey to catch some sleep, as long as the weather is kind to us…

puerto natales, puerto montt, chile, south america, navimag, ferry
At last…the ferry!
puerto natales, puerto montt, chile, south america, navimag, ferry
Image credit: Navimag.com

The incredible Patagonian route

The main reason for taking this ferry trip is that the scenery is promised to be spectacular, whilst travelling through Chile’s Southern Patagonian Fjords.

A road does connect Pt. Natales and Pt. Montt, which also provides great scenery, but decided on a ferry journey instead as hoping this is a more comfortable mode of transport.

The journey takes us through the Chilean hamlet of Villa Puerto Edén. Together with Easter Island and Villa Las Estrellas, Puerto Eden is considered to be one of Chile’s most isolated inhabited places. The ferry only stops for a short time at this hamlet to drop off supplies, so not sure whether we can even get off and walk around yet – I hope so…

A side note

Something of worth to note when booking this trip, which is not advertised anywhere, is that this ferry carts livestock. Cows and horses are left on the loaded trucks for the duration of the journey, commencing at Pt. Natales until reaching Pt. Montt.

Not only were the cows heard from within our cabin, as the voyage matured, so did the smell of livestock excrement, which permeated through the ceiling vent and into our ensuite and cabin. This was quite nauseating and disgusting by the end of the second day, let alone the fourth day.

Particularly cruel is how these animals are rammed very tightly onto these trucks and must stand upright for three nights and four days, potentially weathering rough seas in the Pacific Ocean and all types of weather conditions.

Life aboard Navimag

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, especially with all this livestock on board. Read about the four day’s adventure in this separate post.

I’m hoping for a smooth trip as I hear there are many spectacular vistas along the way and definitely the main reason for venturing from Pt. Natales to Pt. Montt on a long ferry trip, instead of taking the bus route…

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more images. More posts on Chile at Image Earth Travel.

puerto natales, chile, south americca
Puerto Natales

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6 responses to “Waiting for the ever-elusive Navimag ferry in Puerto Natales, Chile!”

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    rs gold site reviews

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    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you and glad you enjoyed my post!

  2. gillmorris Avatar

    I’m loving these South American tales, Nilla. I didn’t realise there were many fjords there. It sounds amazing 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Cool, glad you’re enjoying the posts.
      I’m slowly going through an updating the posts to the new format and including more content, although prices are outdated.
      The fjords there are spectacular and I’ll be adding more photos to my old posts, so stay tune. 😉

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