Four days at sea through Chile’s stunning Southern Patagonian Fjords

May, 2011

Four days at sea on the Navimag ferry through Chile’s stunning Southern Patagonian Fjords anyone?

After a never-ending wait for the ferry due to delays because of bad weather and after a rough night’s sleep on the Navimag ferry, we finally sailed out of Puerto Natales around 07:30hrs. With breakfast served at 08:00 hrs, truly on our way now.

The initial sail saw us gliding along through some gorgeous scenery but the best was yet to come…

Patagonia, Chile, fjords, Navimag, ferry
Starting our journey…
Pt Montt, Pt Natales, Patagonia, Chile, Navimag, ferry
Map credit: Navimag.com

Life aboard Navimag

A little on life aboard the ferry…

Regardless of the vessel, typically, life on the water revolves around food, sleep, and scenery – and I doubt this trip will be different.

Meal times are understandably regimented and served three times per day. (Sleep and gazing at scenery times are not strict.) The food on the ferry is better than expected. Not exactly A-la-Carte dining, but very tasty and enough to satisfy any hunger, which the sea air tends to develop for you during those long hours at sea.

As it is out-of-season, this trip does not offer the usual activities, various walks, and ferry stops.

This trip does hold extremely informative scheduled lectures once a day delivered by Percy and Chris – Biologists, I believe. Both are excellent presenters and both know their stuff – very knowledgeable and passionate about all things Patagonian!

A downside is the fact that this ferry carts livestock from Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt, so the four days. This is not advertised anywhere on the Navimag site, nor are you advised of this when purchasing your ticket. I did mention this also in my last post: Waiting for the ever-elusive Navimag ferry in Puerto Natales, Chile!

What you can expect on this trip…

Incredible scenery followed by more spectacular scenery!

If the weather is kind during the four days, then expect a smooth sail. If not, then it’s going to be a rough trip for twelve hours or possibly more, once out into the Pacific Ocean.

puerto natales, puerto montt, chile, south america, navimag, ferry
Home for four days…

If your trip is in Autumn like this one, then expect bitter freezing cold and windy weather.

Patagonia, Chile, fjords, Navimag, ferry
And so, the journey starts…

Although sometimes it is hard to walk on the ferry’s decks, the cold is definitely worth it, even for short bursts. There is always a hot drink and warm cabin waiting for you inside – remember, you’re only here once.

Patagonia, Chile, fjords, Navimag, ferry
Braving the cold
Patagonia, Chile, ferry, Navimag
Gliding through the Patagonian Fjords
Patagonia, Chile, fjords, Navimag, ferry
Patagonian sunrise

Villa Puerto Edén

Patagonia, Chile, fjords, Navimag, ferrySadly, because we are not in high season, there is only one scheduled stop during the four-day journey, which is to drop off supplies.

The stop is for a couple of hours only to drop off supplies at the Cilean hamlet of Villa Puerto Edén. Located in Wellington Island, this hamlet is home to the last Kawéshkar people (meaning ‘muscle eaters’ in Yaghan). Together with Easter Island and Villa Las Estrellas, Puerto Eden is considered to be one of Chile’s most isolated inhabited places. To give you an idea on how small this hamlet is, the population in the 2002 Census was 176 – I can’t find an updated number since this count.

Although I am very much looking forward to exploring the hamlet, albeit for a brief moment of a couple of hours, sadly, passengers didn’t get the opportunity.

The ferry arrived at Puerto Edén at around 05:00 hrs when we were all still asleep and only the shunting of supplies woke everyone up at about 06:00 hrs, which by this time, crew informed us it was too late. I’m not sure why the crew didn’t wake passengers as I know most wanted to walk around the hamlet. All we could do is admire the sheer beauty from the decks of the ferry…such a tease and disappointing as the scenery surrounding the hamlet is incredible and surreal!

Chile, Puerto Edén, Patagonia, Navimag, ferry
Early morning at Puerto Edén

The early morning’s low light revealed a thick fog that wisps and curls around the fjords and small houses, hugging everything in its path.

Although this tiny fishing village is around 6,000 years’ old, the small number of inhabitants and the village are only reachable by boat. There are no roads in or out and no airport. Only pedestrian boardwalks connect houses and shops. This village is completely isolated. The people of Puerto Edén live here for free with the government paying for everything.

Patagonia, Chile, fjords, Navimag, ferry
The hamlet

Puerto Edén is also reputed to receive the highest rainfall frequency in the world, with only Bahía Félix (further south), receiving the most rainfall in 1916 (Guinness World Records) and only eighteen days without rain in that year.

Patagonia, Chile, fjords, Navimag, ferry
Stunning Patagonia

The ferry slid silently away, leaving Puerto Edén, without even a glimpse of a local in the village…apart from a few workers collecting supplies from our ferry at this early hour.

Patagonia, Chile, fjords, Navimag, ferry
Luckily, the fog never lifted entirely

Onwards and upwards

Snaking through the incredible fjords as the fog thickens above the pond-still icy water, feels as if we are gliding through clouds.

Patagonia, Chile, fjords, Navimag, ferry
Incredible vista

Trance-like and mystical…a feast for the eyes and camera.

The continuing day held this shrouded dreamlike backdrop for us strangers wandering through this wonderful part of Patagonia. It is as if the fog is wrapping itself around the ferry and drawing us into a cloak of mystic white. Totally captivating and beautiful.

With our tour guide Percy mentioning that he has never seen this passage so fogged whilst completing this passage 29 times this year, we realise how extremely lucky to be experiencing such great, but also unusual weather conditions…so far.

The weather is fickle in these deep southern latitudes.

Patagonia, Chile, fjords, Navimag, ferry, Pacific Ocean
Returning from the Pacific Ocean

On our third day through the fjords, the changeable weather did indeed become changeable displaying a grey sky with much rain, and also freezing cold.

Patagonia, Chile, fjords, Navimag, ferry, chess
Killing time before the rain

Apart from the desperate smokers that braved the unfriendly weather momentarily, most passengers stayed indoors all day. This change just makes you appreciate even more how truly lucky we are for experiencing the last two glorious days.

Patagonia, livestock, Chile, fjords, Navmag, ferry
The downside – four days and three nights’ standing and cramped

Arriving at Puerto Montt

On the fourth day you arrive at Pt. Montt around 04:30 hrs and crew start to unload the trucks at this time.

Unloading starts with livestock first (thank goodness), by which time cows and horses are pretty smelly, having lived in their own stench for four days. Not to mention our cabin is also smelly with the stench permeating through our ensuite vent and into our cabin – sickly on all accounts.

This is the aspect about this ferry trip I really don’t like or agree with and find this animal cruelty too much, especially as there is a road that can be used.

Like military precision, breakfast is served early today as everyone has to disembark by 08:00 hrs. I have to say, this trip has been organised well by Navimag.

The memorable four days has come to an end.

We all piled into the Navimag bus, which drove a couple of minutes to the Navimag office, still situated within the terminal. Shortest bus trip in South America yet, funny as! The Navimag office is where we purchased onward journey bus tickets to Pucón (CH$7,600).

Said our goodbyes and everyone went in different directions, continuing to new destinations…sad when you think about it, but hope to keep in contact with a few friends from the ferry.

Leaving Puerto Montt

Turning right at the terminal’s entrance and an easy walk of about 500 metres is the bus station. Here we sit and wait for the bus that will whisk us away (hopefully soon), on our next 6-hour short trip north to Pucón, by road this time…

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

Patagonia, Chile, fjords, Navimag, ferry
Cutting the fog

33 thoughts on “Four days at sea through Chile’s stunning Southern Patagonian Fjords

Add yours

  1. This is incredible..!! Lovely .. ❤
    I love the Fjords, though the ones I have seen so far are mostly gentle and not ragged or sharp like the Chilean ones.
    It's good that you visited during the low season – you were spared of the barge of touristy crowds in such pristine places whose infrastructure may be overwhelmed by crowds. But on the flipside, there isn't much ice or snow to be seen. Devastating effects of global warming can be seen here as well. Hope things improve now and the Ice returns soon..
    Though I am apprehensive of water transport as well (yes, in addition to buses.. 😉 ) yet, I shall gladly undertake this trip though..!!
    Thank you Nilla once again for making me read another gem of an article.. 😊😊😍😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes it was an incredibly stunning region, which I’d love to see again.
      Back in 2011, it wasn’t a popular trip but think this has probably changed now, sadly, probably inundated with tourists.
      Ha, ha, your narrowing your transport modes… 😉
      Thank you for the great feedback Abir!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. You are most welcome Nilla.. It’s a pleasure reading your stories.. 😊🤗
      For stunning Fjords which are rugged and have literally icy mountains descending into the Ocean, you can plan a trip to Norway.
      And if you want pristine and crowd free Fjords, you know where to go by now.. 😉 🇷🇺

      Liked by 1 person

    3. That’s awesome.. 😀 The train journey in Norway is brilliant, especially the one between Oslo and Bergen. I haven’t been there, but have seen a few pictures.. 🙂
      Waiting for your article on that.. 🙂
      And inspired by you, I am starting another article on sharing some experiences I had during my trips. Won’t contain details of destinations, but hopefully, will make you smile a bit.. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    4. Ha, ha, I have to many posts to write about before I even start reminiscing through my travel journals of 1985. Think I’ll be digitising 4 months in Indonesia back in 1998 first. 😉
      I took the ferry from Denmark to Norway then across to Sweden – amazing.

      Liked by 1 person

    5. You are hell bent on making me Mountain sick or sea sick.. 😉😂
      Not that I suffer from any of those, so far. But I remember being on my toes in the waterbus in Rotterdam.. 😂
      You should write though if you have pictures. I have zilch though.. 😂
      But despite being a bit apprehensive of water, I shall try the ferry ride between Denmark and Norway.. ☺️ I crossed over to Sweden, uder the sea, in a train though.. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    6. Ha, ha, not at all, just pushing your boundaries! 😉
      Abir, you should know me…I have loads of photos of everywhere, although in those days it was 35mm colour slide film. The slides are not in good condition and when I scanned them some years ago, I didn’t really know the optimal settings. I scanned over 4,000 slides and negatives. A lot of my old photos have been in storage in poor conditions for so long that I need to clean them up loads in post-production, which I really don’t like doing – too tedious!
      Oh and your comment was in my Trash folder!

      Like

    7. Haha.. apologies Madam for not knowing you.. Hope you aren’t angry.. 😉
      But on a serious note, those colour films would have aged inevitably and would not have been in a good condition about 35 years later, unless you would have stored them in a dark vacuum chamber.
      And I face the same issue. I can totally understand. I have a lot of colour slide films as well, may not be even 1000, but as you said, they are not in good condition today. And scanning them or re-clicking them will definitely destroy the quality, whatever is left of them.
      You can write your articles sans the pictures if you want to….

      Liked by 1 person

    8. Ha, ha, you’re too funny! 😉
      That’s so true and something I never thought of at the time. Sometimes when I try and clean up the scanned image, it’s worse than when I started – I’m not at PP and another reason why I don’t like doing this to my photos.
      No, this is a travel and photography blog, then I need the photos. I’ll persevere.

      Liked by 1 person

    9. I am sure Nilla that you will succeed and persevere.. 😀
      Thanks to the digital cameras of the modern times, the job of preserving the photographs becomes easier.. 😀
      You are right, cleaning up the scanned image takes a lot of effort and is sometimes not worth it.
      See if any of the pictures I shared fits into any of the stories you plan to write. I shall be happy to share them if you need.. 🙂
      Looking forward to your subsequent posts.. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    10. Of course, I am sure you do that Nilla.. 🙂 Collaboration brings out the best in the collaborating partners as well as offers a better deal to the audience.. 🙂 I did one post recently, shared the relevant links and names as well.. I would do that again, if it fits..

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I always have been attracted by the content which inspires to see the real world around. Interestingly, Latin America is on my list. Very nice photographs. The blend of words makes it perfect. I hope to see more interesting stories. 🙂 Thank you

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you liked my update and could of written more but if a post is too long, sometimes people lose interest.
      I hated the fact that the animals were on this journey at all. I think it’s a little deceiving that the company doesn’t advise passengers prior to purchasing a ticker that the ferry carries livestock.

      Thank you for your great feedback as always Gill 🙂 x

      Liked by 1 person

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