Finished with Patagonia, we needed to keep heading north, and what better way than by booking a passage on the Navimag ferry through the Chilean Fjords. This trip intrigued us because many people described it as the poor man’s alternative to an Antarctica cruise. We, being currently jobless, jumped at the chance to live like the (backpacker) elite.
On this trip, we sailed through the Chilean Fjords for four days and four nights, leaving from Puerto Natales and arriving in Puerto Montt. We passed through narrow channels, searched for wildlife, viewed glaciers, and took in all the beautiful scenery. Oh yeah, and we also took plenty of naps and played a lot of card games (there was a lot of downtime). This ferry has berths for around 300 people, and it was by no means fancy, but it sure was relaxing.
We somehow scored big time when we checked in, and we were upgraded from our original 4 person bunk room with no window and shared bathroom, to a 2 person room with window and private bathroom (worth double the price we paid). We couldn’t believe our insane luck! The room was still basic, but it was nice to have it all to ourselves. Joe and Kristen arm wrestled over who got the top bunk, and Joe of course lost out (Kristen has been doing a lot of push-ups recently), and he had to always climb up the ladder for nap time.
This ferry had more of a “real” ship feel, rather than the traditional cruise ship luxury. The meals were fulfilling, but nothing too special, and we never found the pool or lido deck.
The lower decks of the ferry were filled with trucks full of cargo, and even some livestock who made the trip with us. You could sometime hear the animals voice their displeasure with the rough seas, and it seems that a few times we dreamed of being on farms.
As you can imagine, the views were amazing, even if the weather did not cooperate with us very much. We passed through some tight channels, one being just 80 meters wide.
Of course, this made Joe as giddy as a school girl.
Joe was even lucky enough to sneak into the bridge and spend some time with the officers. He was happy to see the Chief Engineer giving the 3rd Mate a hard time (something about his butt getting too big because all he does is sit). Ahh, the love between the Deck and Engine Room is universal.
This also is a great trip if you are addicted to napping, as there is quite a bit of free time on the ship. We would get up, enjoy the view, eat, play cards with friends, nap and repeat. With the weather being cruddy, it gave us even more of an excuse to hide out in the warmth of our bunks.
One thing that ships generally avoid is ice, but not on this ferry. We took a small side trip to a glacier which reaches in to the sea. It already looked big from the water, but the clouds were hiding its full size, as it actually stretched far into the mountains.
After our brief glacial pit stop, we continued on our way and everyone retreated to their bunks to warm back up.
Along the way there was always something to look at and the “guide” did an okay job letting us know what was coming, most of the time. We hoped to see a lot of wildlife on this adventure, but we only saw a few birds, a few dolphins, one brief whale, and a couple seals. These guys would come and go so quickly that we never got a good picture of them, despite our best attempts.
Along the way, Joe also found a ship that he wanted to work on, but unfortunately the birds have already taken command.
This ship ran aground sometime in the 60’s, and hasn’t moved since then. Joe imagines some engineer was distracting the poor watch officer when it got stuck.
For most of the trip we were sheltered in protected water, but we did head out into the open ocean (i.e. the Pacific) for about 17 hours. The weather and waves picked up a bit and lots of people hunkered down in their beds (Kristen included). The lines at meal time were much shorter during this passage, Joe had a good time watching people pinball down the passageways in the rough seas.
Heading back into the Fjordes the weather started to lift for our final full day onboard.
This brought everyone out of their rooms to enjoy the sun on the upper deck.
The weather might not have been the warmest, but it was nice to feel the sun on your body.
The bar did an amazing amount of business on this day, as everybody found a soft piece of steel to spread out on and enjoy the views and sun.
We were treated to a good time with our new friends on our last day. We spent the majority of the day on the upper deck enjoying the weather, playing cards, and drinking cheap boxed wine.
Also, on our last night, we had one of the most amazing sunsets we have seen.
Riding on the Navimag was a great way to travel back up Chile and recharge our batteries. It was nice knowing we didn’t have to pack or unpack our bags for a few days and all the meals were taken care of. We did an excellent job of taking advantage of the prime nap opportunities and we were rejuvenated after a busy few weeks in the Patagonia area.
Definitely beats the bus.