Day 24 (18th Dec.)
We had a lazy day today – the sun was out so we chilled both sitting outside our cabana and strolling around the town, along the seafront, and to the port area where we’ll get our ferry to Chiloe tomorrow. There was actually quite a lot going on – after the nearby landslide of Saturday, helicopters continued to fly overhead all day, with a number landing next to the local Carabineros HQ which was a (long) stone’s throw away from us.
Apparently, the helicopters had been ferrying survivors from the landslide area into Chaiten where they had been sent onwards. The other interesting activity concerned the local volcano, Volcan Chaiten, which had recently started smoking. It last erupted in a big way in 2008, with the town’s inhabitants having been evacuated.
We also bumped into the owner of the aged Africa Twin we saw yesterday. He – Juan Garcia – was a year and a half into a round-the-world trip, having come from Spain via Europe, Russia, Alaska, Canada, USA, Central and South America. He was heading for the Fin del Mundo, as we are, so our paths may well cross again; in fact they will tomorrow at the least since we are both getting the ferry to Chiloe to enable us to continue south, what with the Carretera Austral now closed for possibly a couple of months due to the landslide.
We have now made our plan to head south – we get a 4-day ferry from Puerto Montt (a hundred miles or so to the north of where we are now) to Puerto Natales which is in the southern part of Patagonia, quite near to the southernmost tip of Chile. The ferry sails through the Chilean fjords and out into the Pacific Ocean at one point, with penguins, whales, condors and other interesting wildlife to be expected. We have talked of doing this a number of times and it was the closure of the Carretera Austral which led to this decision; and we can still ride through Patagonia on the northward return. We leave on the 22nd and arrive at midday on Christmas Day where we have booked a nice-looking place for a day or two. Then it’s onto the Tierra del Fuego and the Fin del Mundo (End of the World).