In order to get to the Parque Torres del Paine in southern Chile, it’s necessary to go to the town of Puerto Natales first. The park is about 2.5 hours away from town. Hostels can arrange drop off and pick up if you will be spending several days in the park. For those interested in day trips, bus companies can take you for short hikes and photos.
When E. and I decided to walk around town, we had two canine escorts hoping to get a handout.
It was impressive that the dogs could identify us as tourists and walk with us as if we were the owners. (This happened several times with different dogs.) They say that half of the dogs in town are wild and half of the dogs are pets who are let run free. The cream colored dog who accompanied us seemed happy and loved.
The dog was looking over the Seno Ultima Esperanza (Last Hope Sound). The dogs have learned how to put their heads in the trash buckets along the sound and tip them to assess the offerings that day.
Arriving in Punta Arenas, we saw wild fields of this beautiful flower in lavender and pink. I can’t seem to remember the name. Does anyone know?
There are a number of decent restaurants in town. For a taste of American or Brit cuisine, El Living at Arturo Prat 156 is a good restaurant. It’s cafe style with some large sofas, piles of magazines to entertain yourself, and a relaxed vibe. (The noun “el living” is a term for a living room in Spanish.) The owners are expats from England and they fix burritos, walnut veggie burgers, and other comfort food not easily found in Chile. All of the options are vegetarian. They also offer tea and coffee.
Tourist info can be found at the information center on the water at the corner of Costanera Pedro Montt and Bernardo Phillipi. It’s easy to walk around town and get different quotes on bus fares. Many bus companies can be found on Baquedano street. Tourists often take buses from Puerto Natales to Patagonia sights in Argentina such as Perito Moreno glacier or the city of Ushuaia. However, book ahead on buses to Ushuaia, as they fill fast.
The weather was so cold and blustery that this dog found his preferred space to escape–underneath a vendor’s booth.
For the most part, the town closes down on Sundays. We also noticed that shops took an early afternoon siesta. If you have the time, you might want to plan for a day in Puerto Natales before your hike and a night to rest when you come back. Grocery stores on Baquedano have a large number of dried pasta mixes, dried fruits, and camping supplies for those who want to prepare for a hike.
We enjoyed Puerto Natales. The people are a little closed because of the constant flow of tourists (which I’m sure can be oppressive), but the town is quaint and beautiful and offers a lot of good eating, crafts, and outdoor activities in the area. The mountains across from the sound are a beautiful backdrop.