Old Jan 19, 07, 12:49 am
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: SYD
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Posts: 2,769
Great trip report, thanks for posting!

Sounds like we were in Patagonia at the same time; we flew into PUQ on Boxing Day and back to SCL on New Year's Day, but rented a car and drove to Puerto Natales, El Calafate, and back over the six-day period. Did a huge loop and put a couple thousand kms on the clock.

I've been meaning to do a trip report on this journey (which included AF and AM Business Class as well as side trips to New York City and Vancouver) but I've had no time, it's been CRAZY since I got back.

We made SIX one-way trips on the road between Puerto Natales and Cerro Castillo (2/3 of the way to PN Torres del Paine) and so became well-familiar with the construction... to the point where some of the flagmen recognised us. That road will be GREAT when it's finished, but replacement of the gravel section from C Castillo to the PN hasn't even been started.

We stopped by the Explora to check it out, as I was curious about it. Before our trip I had considered staying there, but I just couldn't justify to myself the prices they were charging and that you stay there on their terms (min number of days, etc.). After looking about the place, I feel I made the right decision FOR ME. It's very expensive but then it's all about VALUE... what your priorities are. For me, it would be an absolute shame to go all the way down to Punta Arenas and not see the town, the penguins at Seno Otway, spend some time around Puerto Natales, see PN Los Glaciares in Argentina, kick back in El Calafate for a couple of days, etc. There is much more to the area than Torres del Paine. But then, I didn't get the chance to do much in the way of good hikes. The weather was definitely a factor for us, and we never did get a close-in view of the Torres (though the Cuernos were kind to us) and Glaciar Grey like you did. Again, it's about balance and trade-offs!

Was VERY impressed with the Chilean airports that I saw; SCL but especially PUQ... what a nice little terminal! A couple of tips:

First, not all flights between SCL and PUQ have a stopover in Puerto Montt (PMC); there are non-stops as well.

Second, PUQ has a decent little bar/restuarant on the mezzanine level that does sandwiches and small meals. Stragely, both the bar and seating area are divided in two by a glass partition separating the secure and non-secure area. We went upstairs to grab a bite to eat after checking in only to find the restaurant area chocka... no free tables. But strangely there wasn't one table taken on the sterile side of the glass; so we went through security with NO QUEUE, sat down at an empty table and got served right away. This garnered some withering looks from people who were still waiting to be served on the other side of the glass! We ordered a sandwich which was HUGE (big enough for two, and I have an appetite) as well as a couple of beers. By the time we finished the security line had at least 50 people in it!

Third, if you fly on an A320 DO NOT ask for the exit row. If you get the first window exit (Row 10) there is less legroom than any other seat on the plane. For some strange reason LAN has installed bulkheads on these exit rows, so there is nowhere to put your feet.

Last edited by TrayflowInUK; Jan 19, 07 at 12:58 am Reason: Added picture to illustrate my point
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