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Published: August 8th 2007
By way of San Francisco, my flight left Los Angeles for Santiago at 1pm. The flight was pleasant, I had 2 empty seats next to me, a clear window seat and the hottest flight attendant at my service. And these were Chilenas, serving free alcohol courtesy of one of the best airlines, LAN Chile. After a brief stop in Peru, the before sunrise arrival to Santiago passed well. The flight to Punta Arenas was much anticipated, I reserved an east facing seat, ensuring an unbstructed view of the Magnificent Chilean Andes
andes I had researched the past 2 years. Punta Arenas
reminded me of some sort of polar outpost. Flying over the landscape before the landing, scattered glacial ponds dotted the green hills. Patches of forest, many quite thick, grow scattered over the ridges and rivers. It was overcast with 30 mile visibility. I got the rental car, bought some food and gassed up, then headed towards Puero Natales.
The drive was something special. It seemed so desolate, but also part of something bigger. It was normal, much like a trip to Alaska feels like being in any other US State although very far away. Soon, any analogy failed to explain the sights.
Distant fjords and glaciers, pink flamingos in large shallow lakes, roadside memorials and high winds. the temperature wasn't high, but the winds were fast. Soon more forest appeared before reaching the vast expanse before Puerto Natales.
Animals were frequent, from Guanicos and Nandus to Horse and Cows. Nobody was on the roads, and the road only got more lonely past Puerto Natales. The weather turned wet too, which was an amazing transition but terrible ending. Terrible not because of cold and rain- terrible because the famous views of the Torres del Paine were hidden!
The weather and long drive found me well, so I stayed in Puerto Natales at Casa Cecilia
. It was a great place to stay, who would have guessed I would spend 3 more nights here!
Turistel Map: http://turistel.cl/v2/secciones/mapas/ruteros/magallanes.htm
Ecosistemas: Patagonia Campaign: http://www.ecosistemas.cl/1776/channel.html
Defensores del Bosque Chileno: http://www.elbosquechileno.cl/
Ancient Forest International: http://www.ancientforests.org
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