Puerto Natales is a small fishing port town, it has a population of 19,000.
Puerto Natales is really only a quick stop off point for people either going on the Navimag Ferry to Puerto Montt or for hiking around Torres Del Paine.
After taking over an hour to pass through the border we arrived early afternoon around 13:00. Just as we were getting off the bus loads of chilian ladies were offering us there hostal. On the bus we had already decided - thanks to the Travellers Guru - that we were going to try and see if they had room at a highly recommended hostal called Eratic Rock.
We came across the hostal more out of luck than judgement and luckly they had two beds left. It was a bit exspensive, 6,000 a night which is just over 6 pounds but it did include breakfast. The hostal is run by a couple of American blokes, one of which called Dave the other guy i cant remember his name. It was only there 2nd year and already there hostal was buzzing. They also owned an equipment rental shop, which was next door. We dumped our bags and went for a walk round town. We were back by 3 as the American Guys were holding a talk about the hiking around TDP.
There is two main walkes around TDP. The "Circuit" and The "W". For our time scale we decided to hike the W which would take 5 to 6 days. The guys were advicing on the best way to do it, what equipment we would need and also what food to take. I was a little bit distracted by the kitten they had, but luckly Tom was taking notes. After the talk Tom and I decided that we would do the extended "W" route (Included an extra 17km of hiking)and if we could we would leave for TDP tomo morning. Before we could be sure we were going to leave tomo we had to make sure that we had everything sorted. We made a list, it went as follows
-Food for 6 days
-Get money from the bank
-Reserve tickets on Navimag
-Get pics transferred off of Camera
-And a pair of Waterproof strides for Tom
A small high five took place each time we were able to cross something off the list. We even had time to sort through our bags deciding on what to take and what not to take and cook dinner.
TORRES DEL PAINE
Puerto Montt is one of Chile´s fastest growing cities with a current population of 175,000.
We docked in PM harbour at 2am, i know this well as i was still up playing poker and drinking. The poker match was down to the last two, myself and an American named GT. I hate to say it but i easily one and proudly pocketed 15,000 pesos (16 pounds). I eventually went to sleep at 3am and woke at 7.30 for breakfast. At breakfast i swapped email addresses with a few people and joked about the night befores activities and incidents. Disenbarking was at 9 and i was quietly happy to e leaving the boat.
As we eventually walked on dry land we were greeted by a small friendly lady who was offering us to stay at her hostal. The price started off at 6,000 but as there was 8 of us. Darren, Frasier, Mat, Mark, Dennis, Soran, Tom and myself we got the price down to 4,000 pp. Mrs Rocca as she introduced herself led us through the streets of PM to her hostal, Hostal Rocco. She made us take off our dirty boots and gave us flip flops in return. As a few went to our rooms some stayed down stairs talking to Mrs Rocca, i came back down stairs to see her showing pictures of her award winning dancing poodles. One was called Shakira, they did nothing but yap the whole time we were there.
After a quick forty winks Tom and I headed into town. It was the first city we had been to since BA so the packed strrets took abit of getting use to. But it was great to see different people again. Walking through the town produce a bit of an appetite, we cam across a kebab burger bar and decided to dine in style there. As i went off to the loo Tom ordered the food, i can back to see Tom chuckling to himself. He told me that as he was ordering an old guy tapped him on the shoulder and said " You watch supersize me? This food is bad for you!" then scurried off.
We headed back to the hostal and bumped into to Darren and Frasier, early we had decided to go and find a bar to watch the Arsenal match. We came across a small bar and sat down with several locals to watch a dominant Arsenal win. The less i say about the game the better. Arsenal luckly scrapped throught 1-0 on aggregate. Anyway whilst watching the match D & F told us about there amzing lunch at a place called El Rocca. El rocca is a small shellfish restuarant based in the centre of the fish market. Tom and I went the for dinner after the match and both had a plate full of freshly caught shell fish. We had :
-Picorocos (Some kinda Barnacle)
-Centollas (King Crab)
It was fantastic but a bit pricey, the whole meal including two cokes came to 15,00 chilian pesos about 16 pounds. It was well worth it. Later that night we watched The Incredibles for the fourth time and later on The sting
Woke up at 8.30 and had breakfast (which was included). It consisted of toast, Marmalade and freshily ground coffee.
We went in to town and brought bus tickets to our next distination Pucon. The bus was leaving at 13.00 so i decided to have my hair cut. At 12.45 i arrived back at the hostal with a short back and side and a stylishly trimmed beard.
Dennis, Soran, Tom and I headed off to Pucon at 13.00
Pucon is the adventure travel and tourist navel of the Chiian Lake District, Pucon has a population of around 21,000.
The four amigos arrived in Pucon at 7pm ish and after walking around trying to find a hostal that wasnt over our budget we decided to head to the sampsite. Camping La Poza was only 2,000pp and included hot showers and cooking facilities. Result.
We pitched our tents in the semi dark,thanks to the little old lady owner who went around with a small tourch turning the outside lights on. That night we had Pasta and Chorizo for dinner and between the four of us a litre and a half of whisky and 24 cans of 5.5% beer. After many hours of playing cards we eventually hit the sleeping bags at 4am.
Woke early at 11am and with Soran I headed into town to grab something for breakfast. We came back with:
2 red peppers
2 loaves of freshily baked bread
1/4 kilo of bacon
Over bruch we decided that over the next couple of days we would like to see the hot springs and id possible climb Volcano Villarrica. We came across a small adventura business who informed us that Fridays weather was going to be cloudy but Saturdays weather would be perfect for climbing the volcano. So we booked up for the Volcano, it was 28,000 (The cheapest we had Found)and it included all the equipment and two guides. We also hired a car for Friday so we could see the Hot springs and some other of Pucons attractions.
We spent the day travelling round Pucon in are fantastic red FIAT. We eventually ended up at the Lonely Planets Guides recommend hot spring. Thermas Loz Pozons had 6 different pools all with different temperatures. It was 3,500 for three hours. It was fantastic. We headed back to Pucon via Villi's Pool hall and Tom and I beat the Boys from Denmark 4-2.
We arrived bright and early at the adventura office, i think it was just after 7am. The two guides arrived just after us and after what seemed like a life time we were all kitted out in our gear including clampons and and ice axe.
There was 9 of us climbing the volcano with the company which was perfect as many of the other companies as we passed them had 20+ people sharing one or two guides. We all piled into a minibus and headed to Parque Nacional Villarrica. PNV established in 1940 protects 60,00 hectares of remarkable volcanic scenery and the dragons (as they call them) that made it that way:
2847 m Villarrica
2360 m Quetrupillan
3746 m Lanin
The first part of the climb was a steep up hill climb along side a ski lift. At the top of the ski lift we waited for the others from our group to join us, but unfortunatly or luckily depending on how you see it we were already two people down. Pedro (The Guide) said that they quit after only 150m. Then there was 7.
Following Hermin's lead (The Other Guide) we slowly snaked our way up the volcano, stopping at an old dilapidated ski lift. Hermin told us that in 1971 there was an huge eruption which destoyed the ski lift and killed many people in Pucon. The last eruption was in 1984 but only dust was blown out from the volcano. We carrie don hiking til we reached the foot of the ice/snow