Menu Close

Chile – Patagonia & Chiloe

November 2009

Although I leave Switzerland in winter to escape the cold, this time I was drawn to an area that is significantly colder than Switzerland: PATAGONIA. A name that made me long for nature, wilderness and endless expanses. This destination had been on my list for a long time. Unfortunately my friends weren’t so enthusiastic about it, so I decided not to do it until now, because it’s not so much fun alone. Only when two colleagues wanted to travel to Patagonia did I spontaneously join them.

I was not disappointed, although the weather is colder and more rainy than I expected for the season (it is here at the beginning of summer). You don’t leave the house without a winter jacket. On my arrival I naively asked the reception for the weather forecast for the next day. The lady only smiled. Soon I knew why. Usually at least three of the following four weather situations occur on one day: sun, cloudy, rain and snow. In addition, the wind blows often and stormily.

Around Calafate and El Chalten in Argentina and near Puerto Natales in Chile there are great trekking areas. The mountains are more impressive than in Switzerland, the glaciers are closer and often end in their own glacial lakes or in the sea. If one is lucky, one can observe an ice break into the water. This is how the icebergs form on the lakes. The wild nature combined with the unpredictable weather is the attraction of this area. There are probably not many places where one sees icebergs swimming by on a lake during dinner.

The food is better than expected (probably due to the large number of Italians who immigrated to Argentina). Yes, also the steaks … And what could be more beautiful than to end the evening after the trekking with a Late Harvest sweet wine.

The treks were great experiences, which had to be bought with rain and snow, storm winds, tired feet (running time up to 10 hours a day, when one day released the mountains) and tents at minus temperatures (rattle, rattle). Nevertheless we were very lucky with the weather. Many trekkers don’t see the highlights like the Fitz Roy, the Cerro Torre or the Torres del Paine because of bad weather. We saw everything!

Torres del Paine National Park – 5-day W-walk

Coming from Argentina we traveled to Puerto Natales in Chile, which serves as the starting point to Torres del Paine National Park. The following pictures are from the 5-day W-walk. It is so named, because the way on the map resembles the letter W.

The Torres del Paines that gave the park its name.

From Puerto Natales to Puerto Montt by Navimag ship

Afterwards I went with a ship for 4 days about 1’450 km northwards, between countless islands off the Chilean coast. As usual it was mostly foggy and rainy. It was very charming to chug in this weather mood between the uninhabited islands and mountain ranges (partly with glaciers). Suddenly a ship’s wreck appeared, which had run aground on a rock. The captain wanted to sink the ship, after which he had sold the cargo of sugar. Then he wanted to collect the money from the insurance. Unfortunately the spot was much too shallow, so that it was easy to see that the cargo was no longer on the ship. That cost him the captain’s license and 2 years in prison. Very bizarre to sail past this 40-year-old wreck.

Chiloe Island

Arriving in Puerto Montt, I travelled on to the nearby island of Chiloe.

Puerto Varas

My next destination Puerto Varas is a small town in the Chilean Lake District, where there are some lakes and volcanoes. The area would be wonderful if the weather was nice. Unfortunately it rained the whole time. From my room you could have seen the volcano Orsono. It has an almost perfect cone shape and is therefore also called the Fuji of Chile. One immediately notices that about 150 years ago mainly Germans immigrated here. The lady at the reception was proud that she still speaks German in the fifth generation. Here the cars stop for the pedestrians, there are tasty, home-style food, cakes (including Black Forest cakes) and of course home-brewed beer. A Minimercardo was actually called “Tante Emma”.

Afterwards I traveled across the Andes to Bariloche in Argentina, then on to the natural paradise Peninsula Valdès and to Buenos Aires. You can find this travelogue here.


This text is an automatic English translation from the German original by