Chile Day 7: Goodbye Atacama, Hello Patagonia

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Today was pretty much a travel day, which took us from the northern region of Chile to its extreme south. As a result, traveling took up much of our day.

We started, once again, much earlier than dawn, around 4:30 a.m. to get picked up at 5:00 a.m. to get to the Calama airport. Due to our stargazing your lithe previous night, we went to bed late, so we only got 3 hours of sleep at most.

Our hotel packed us a breakfast package – a ham and cheese sandwich, a muffin, and some juice – which we could eat on the go, as regular breakfast is not served until 7:00 a.m.

We pretty much slept the entire ride to Calama, although I did take a moment to appreciate the multitudes of stars just one more time.

When we got to the airport, the check-in counters weren’t open yet so we took the opportunity to try our packed breakfasts. Unfortunately, the food was as dry as the desert outside so we fed it to a stray dog begging for food just outside the doors. Even the dog struggled to choke down the food, but I guess beggars can’t be choosers.

Our flight from Calama to Santiago was pretty uneventful. Poor Jess, though, has gotten sick and flying with full sinuses is definitely not fun. Once we got to the airport in Santiago, we had Jess rest by our gate while Alana and I picked up some hot drinks from Starbucks.

LeVing Calama and the Atacama Desert.

Our second flight from Santiago left for the southern city of Punta Arenas at 11:05 a.m. It was kind of a difficult flight as the plane constantly smelled of poo; we guessed either someone was really gassy or one of the handful of babies on board was pooping their pants.

Also, there was quite a bit of turbulence as we approached Punta Arenas airport, although we had been warned ahead of time of the strong winds in the region. A couple of kids across from us on the plane were having a blast with the turbulence, though. Honestly, I’ve never seen anyone as happy as they were about turbulence. To their credit, though, it did feel a bit like a roller coaster, I guess.

Anyway, we got off at Punta Arenas and met up with another rep from our tour company, who drove us the 2.5 hours further south to Puerto Natales. The Torres del Paines Nation Park is about another hour away, although we can see several mountains from here already. The area is pretty much the total opposite of the Atacama Desert. Instead of hot, dry, and high altitudes, we have cool, very wet/rainy climate and we’re pretty much at sea level. We did not get to Puerto Natales until about 5:00 p.m.

Our hotel is super cute and full of antique, rustic decor. We love it so far, and thankfully, the Internet works much better than the one in our hotel in San Pedro de Atacama so my posts should contain at least a few pictures each from now on. My previous posts will also be updated with pictures.

Left (top and bottom): Views of the water and mountains from the area around our hotel in Puerto Natales. Right: the pisco sour drink I had in our hotel after dinner.

Anyway, once we checked into our hotel, we freshened up a bit and then headed out into town to eat. Our two flights only served snacks and since our breakfast had been inedible, we hadn’t eaten a proper meal all day. We stopped at a big restaurant that served gigantic portions. Alana’s sandwich, for example, was bigger than her head.

We ate what we could and then did a bit of souvenir shopping. By then, we were pretty tired so we headed back to our hotel to relax and prepare for more adventuring tomorrow.

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