Punta Arenas and the ferry South to Puerto Williams

The 33hour bus ride was really not that pleasant (especially since our seats were all the way at the back and close to the toilet) but we somehow survived it. During the first day we saw some truly spectacular scenery, with mountains, forests and waterfalls, and the most amazing variety of colors we had ever seen in nature. We had been told that autumn in Patagonia was something not to be missed, as the mixture and diversity of colors was out of this world, and now we could definitely see what those people meant.

Disclamer! I realise how so many things I write about are in the superlative, ‘the most amazing… we’ve ever seen’, ‘we’ve never seen anything like it’ etc, but the truth is… it’s true! We have all traveled extensively through Europe and Asia before, but so many of the things we came across in this trip we have definitely not seen or experienced before, and many other ones we might have seen but not to this extent or not of this beauty. So please bare with me and also please know I’m not ‘just saying that’… And if you have doubts, we invite you over for confirmation :).

We got to Punta Arenas on Tuesday early evening and we were immediately told that the pinguins had migrated from there as well, all the way to Brazil… We were sad to hear that, but we agreed we’d go all the way there to find them (not too much of a stretch since we were headed to Brazil anyway heh).

We had enough time that evening to check out the cemetery (a ‘must see’ while there they say, and we kind of agree) and see some pinguin like creatures on the docks. They looked like tiny pinguins but we found out they were cormorans, a type of bird that looks like a pinguin but it’s much smaller and it flies. Obviously, since it’s a bir. Well… whatever they were, we enjoyed seeing them all the same!

We knew about a boat going further South from Punta Arenas, towards the ‘end of the world’. Upon enquiry we realised that boat leaves only once a week, every Wednesday. It was Tuesday evening when we got there, so we knew the next day would be then or never (at least on this trip, as we were not going to spend a week there waiting for the next boat). We kept our fingers crossed that we’d find tickets for the ferry the next day, and indeed we did. It was to be a 39hr ride (that meant 2 nights of sleeping on chairs) and we nearly collapsed when we heard the price (180usd one way), but since we had come all the way to Patagonia we figured we’d save up later to compensate. Plus, we were told the view on the way was pretty spectacular and we’d be able to see glaciers and whales. If not anything else, that definitely convinced us!

The boat was coming back only once a week, on Saturday, but we found out about some daily flights which are 1 hour long and cost 100usd, almost half the price of the boat! We got ourselved some return tickets for Monday afternoon and then rushed to board the ferry. We had met a couple (Daniella and Selis) who were on the same bus as us from Chiloe and they seemed to be interested in the same things we were. They decided to join on the ferry trip and it was during the 39 hours spent in the same room that we started to realise how many things we had in common. Might just be the beginning of a beautiful friendship :).

The ferry was totally different than we had expected, with a very small ‘sleeping’ room which was the same as our ‘day’ room. It had a capacity of about 12 people but we were lucky that since it’s low season there were only 6 of us sleeping there, and another 2 who were there during the day but slept in the beds compartments at night (which cost 250 USD). There was more crew than passengers on the ferry and we kept bumping into them during meal times, it was quite fun. The captain spent quite a bit of time with us over lunch and we had some really good times together, laughing and cracking lots of jokes. What can I say, a happy man!:)

The time passed quite fast on the boat as we had our laptops, books and eachother to keep ourselves entertained. But the hard moments were those on open sea, when the waves were so big they kept rocking our little boat and making us all sick one by one. We got food 4 times a day and the most frequent prayer soon became ‘God, please let me keep my food in’. For the most part, we did.

The view on the way was a bit of a disappointment and we felt there was nothing so spectacular about it to be worth 2 days on the ferry and 180USD. The weather was not good enugh for the whales to show themselves to us, and it was night when we passed by the glaciers so we didn’t see those either. The captain told us later that the trip back is much better in that sense because you pass by the glaciers during day time and they’re quite a view! So if you plan to come to Puerto Williams maybe it would be a good idea to fly in and return to Punta Arenas by boat. Had we known all this before we would have done the same… but that would have also meant we would not get to see the real ‘end of the world’, where we would get only thanks to this particular boat trip.

One response to “Punta Arenas and the ferry South to Puerto Williams

  1. What is the “real end of the world” ? Are you referring to Cape Horn?

    We are also planning a trip from Punta Arenas to Puerto Williams. But we were hoping to fly to Williams and then take the ferry back. I was worried that we would pass the Icebergs in the night. But your words are comforting 🙂

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