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Published: June 29th 2017
Geo: -53.1479, -70.9303
Welcome to Chile! Despite the forecast of another freezing day, we were treated to blue skies and a relatively temperate max temperature of 10C. The currency here is the Chilean Peso (CHP) and 1AUD = about 550CHP. So everything seems expensive with high numerical costs. We arrived just offshore from Punta Arenas today around 9am. Being a small port, we again had to be tendered in via lifeboats. This certainly worked to our favor today as we were able to see dolphins splashing all around us, particularly enjoying playing in the waves behind our boat.
Punta Arenas is the southern most city on the South American continent mainland, so they have a healthy debate and rivalry over which city is indeed the "end of the world". For me, Ushuaia clearly should get that title. Mainland or not, islands are still part of the world. Anyway, todays tour was a "strenuous category" trekking tour. Now on a cruise ship, I feared this coul mean a 5 degree incline, an unsealed path or more than three steps. Our destination was to be Magellans Forest Reserve.We enjoyed a couple of nice hikes here throughout the day. We even managed to see a group
of wild horses resting among the trees on the way in. First stop, the El Mirador track circuit. This started with a short boardwalk track to a lookout. On the way, I managed to catch a glimpse of a large bird, the Southern Crested Cara Cara taking off from a tree. When the trail headed slightly down off the boardwalk, onto the dirt, one fearless cruiser ran for the hills! "Im not going down there" he gasped.. and heroically fled for the security of the bus. Pressing on, we completed the circuit without any difficulty or risk of injury whatsoever.
The next stop was our main hiking trail for the day. On the drive there, our tour guide braced as for the worst. I wasnt sure whether to expect a stroll or Mount Everest. Would we be supplied with oxygen tanks?! Our guide even demonstrated a variety of hiking techniques so we could manage to keep the Grim Reaper at bay. Ultimately, as expected, there was nothing to fear. It wasnt exactly the most difficult of hikes. It was a good climb through dense forest, to the summit of Mount Fenton. Friendly thrush birds sang to us along the way. It
was steep and muddy in places, so we were thankful for our hiking boots. The summit offered spectacular views of the forest, Punta Arenas and the Straits of Magellan. In the distance, we could see where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Pacific.
The hike back was a breeze, although a little slippery. Several unfortunate people in front of us, in runners, succumbed to slippery mud and ended up on their backsides. I narrowly avoided following suit once or twice. The whole second trail took around 3 hours. After a cup of coffee, the bus had as back in the town square for free time. Nat and I stopped into a local cafe for sandwiches, an awesome hot chocolate and a local beer, Astralis for me.We were soon tendered back to the port. We hijacked some random persons open wifi connection and booked a Mozio transfer for the future from Valpariaso Ibis Hotel to Santaigo airport. We were soon tendered back aboard the ship to relax before dinner.
Dinner tonight, we shelled out $20USD each for the ships other speciality restaraunt; Giovannis Italian. We enjoyed a huge feed here, a beef starter, antipasti plates, some pasta and steak and chicken mains. Of course
we didnt neglect the dessert cart. We rolled to bed pretty content. It wasnt quite as good as Chops Grill.We have two days sailing the Chiliean fjords ahead before our next stop at Puerto Montt.
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