We arrived from Santiago in a grey, cold Punta Arenas – the gateway to Chilean Patagonia. The drive from the airport took us through an industrial area before arriving at our accommodation, a granny flat in a lower class neighbourhood. We were cold to the bone, but too early to check in. Destitute and hungry, we walked with our backpacks to the nearest main road where we found a supermarket. We had our picnic of bread and ham on the sidewalk in front of the supermarket, taking shelter from the icy wind behind a trolley filled with our backpacks. Not the greatest start. A stranger offered to take us home for a hot drink. We declined the offer, but realised that we must be a sorry sight.
After a good night in our modest but comfortable room and an early run through the neighbourhood, we set out to explore Punta Arenas. Our primary focus was to purchase the bus tickets we needed to get to Puerto Natales and the Torres del Paine national park.
The Punta Arenas city centre is a beautiful collection of older buildings centred around an attractive square and tree lined central promenade. It is clearly a tourist gateway, with outdoor equipment stores, travel agencies and hostels found throughout the city. We ventured to a modern mall on the outskirts of the city to stock up on items we would need for lunch during our hike in the national park and to find gloves for the kids. All of this was done by foot, so by the end of the day we had done nearly 15 km’s (excluding our run!).
We left our accommodation early the next morning, walking 3km’s in darkness and waking all the dogs in the neighbourhood as we made our way to the bus terminal and the next leg of our adventure.
– Jarik –