Our first adventure in Patagonia was a boat trip to visit the glaciers. If this sounds vague, it’s because it was. We honestly booked this trip without knowing anything about it, except that the lovely lady at the hostel recommended it, and basically nothing else was running because it was winter.
So we woke up way too early and put on a thousand layers of clothing and went out into the darkness to our first adventure. It’s worth noting here that the sun doesn’t rise in Puerto Natales until about 9am, so we were honestly in complete darkness for the first few hours of this excursion. Someone came to pick us up in a car, and then we were taken to a tourist office, and then we were put on a bus with a lot of other tired tourists, and then the bus stopped quite quickly and we were carted through the darkness onto a boat. I want to say here that we were on a dock walking onto this boat, but it was too dark to really see where we were going and I was pretty sure I was going to fall into the freezing water.
However, we were escorted onto the boat and soon all was revealed. The boat was going to travel through the fjords from Puerto Natales to Parque Nacional Bernando O’Higgins, the largest national park in the country, to see the Balmaceda and Serrano glaciers.
The boat had a large space with tables and seats, which meant that we could hide inside from the cold and wind between different sites, and had a deck in the front and back to stand outside and admire the incredible views. Despite it being freezing outside, we went onto the deck as soon as there was light so that we could watch the sun rise over the mountains. It was beautiful and the whole sky turned lilac as we watched.
However, we were escorted inside for coffee and it soon became way too rough to go outside. It was windy and the water was rough, and the waves were crashing against the windows so strongly that we couldn’t even see outside. We waited this out from the safety of the cabin inside, and ventured out again as soon as it calmed down.
For part of the journey, I just stood at the back of the boat (where the cabin of the boat protected me from the waves) and watched the mountains go by. It was cold, and I got in the way of a million photos, but it was peaceful.
After about two hours, we arrived at the national park to see the glacier. This required actually getting out of the boat and walking through the park for about an hour, but we were quickly rewarded. After about ten minutes of forest, you turn a corner and get an incredible view of the glacier and the huge lake of ice at its base. The rest of the walk is along the edge of this lake, which provided amazing scenery the whole way. We walked to the base of the glacier, where the view wasn’t particularly different but was the perfect photo opportunity for all of us tourists to get our shots with the glacier, from every angle possible.
When we were done, it was back on the boat to turn around. To warm us up after venturing into the cold, we were all treated to a complementary glass of whiskey. The novelty of this treat was great, but I managed about two sips before I gave up. It was the same view as before and I was exhausted, so I napped until we stopped for lunch. The lunch was the real surprise of the trip – and definitely the reason it cost a lot more than we had expected.
The boat stopped half way home, and we all got off. We were at a cattle ranch, where we were to be treated to a three course meal. The main course was a fresh lamb barbecue, served to us still sizzling. It was absolutely delicious and I ate way more than I could physically deal with. After lunch we wandered around, and honestly this place was so beautiful it looked like a postcard or a stock photo. I wanted to stay outside and take it all in, but the wind was so cold that I couldn’t bear it.
If it had been summer, I don’t know if we would have done this trip, mostly just because it cost more than we would have liked. However its definitely worth the money – the views are awesome, the food is great, and the experience of hiking through a far off and inaccessible park to see hidden glaciers is amazing.
Want to see more of these posts? Click here to subscribe to our mailing list for updates!