Today was a travel day on the “Fin Del Mundo” – the route to the end of the world!
As we left Puerto Varas, we took one last look at the volcanoes, and we landed in a much different landscape at Punta Arenas. After passing by the Magellan Straight, we started driving north, to get to our next destination of the Torres Del Paine (pronounced Pine-ay) national park.
It was a long drive through the Steppe – which in some ways reminded me a lot of Saskatchewan. It’s dry and you don’t see a lot of trees. The trees you do see are bent because of the very strong wind. This area was settled by English and Scottish settlers, who brought sheep to this area, and sheep wool was the main industry here from the 1800s to 1960s.
The mountains you see in the distance are not the Andes, it is the Torres Del Paine mountain range (which is unique in all the world and I will learn more about tomorrow).
We did see a lot of animals on the drive, but other than the sheep, I wasn’t fast enough with the camera to catch them – the Guanaco (similar to a Llama, but stronger and wild – they can jump over fences so can’t be tamed), a flock of pink Chilean Flamingos, Lesser Rhea (similar to an ostrich) an all kinds of unique birds like the Upland Goose and the Southern Crested Cara Cara.
More about the wind here. Because the pacific and atlantic winds converge here, it becomes a convergence point of cold and warm winds in the spring and summer. This is one of the windiest places on earth. In the winter, it is not as windy, because both coastal winds are cold.
We had a lovely stop for dinner about half way in Puertes Natales, at a restaurant called El Bote. I tried the highly recommended Cordero Magallanico (Lamb) with vegetables (flown in every Tuesday here… it was Thursday so they were very fresh)! My travel mate tried the Guanaco, and it reminded us a lot like beef stew back home. The beer made by the owner of El Bote was a sweet and bitter amber ale – delicious!
The rest of the drive was in the dark, on very windy and bumpy terrain. I could see nothing outside the windows, and it was too bumpy to sleep on such a small bus for 15 of us. But, that’s part of travelling to destinations like Torres Del Plaine National Park – it’s not easy, so it’s special when you get there! I can’t wait to open the windows to see the view in the morning!