Important note about my frequent travel: these are my experiences and observations I share eagerly and enthusiastically. I receive no compensation in cash/kind/discounts, etc. of any kind from any business/locations I’ve visited. None of the businesses paid for my travel expenses or offered any free services.
Our flight from Santiago was scheduled to land in Punta Arenas at 3:20 pm. From there we were going to take the 4:08 pm bus to Puerto Natales. It’s operated by a company called Buses Fernandez. Normally, once we take our cell phones off airline mode, it finds the location and current time. In Punta Arenas, it showed the same time as Santiago. We thought we landed early at 2:30 pm and we had over an hour and half to kill before our bus.
Luckily, we noticed the time on the display at the airport and it didn’t match the time on our phones. We checked the location on our phones and it tracked us but the time didn’t match the airport clocks. We were very confused. We asked the information desk to verify current time. It was one of those strange interactions with us getting strange looks from the person helping us.
It turns out, Punta Arenas had recently moved 1 hour ahead and our bus was coming in half an hour. We googled and NONE of the search results showed this. I’m glad we asked information otherwise we’d have missed our bus. The bus was very comfortable and convenient but it was about 45 minutes delayed. It took almost 3 hours to get to Puerto Natales bus terminal. From there we took a taxi to Chile Tour Patagonia guest house. The taxi cost 1,500 Chilean Pesos (CLP) (~ $2.35 USD).
Once we “checked in” and put our luggage in the room, we talked with Cecilia for a few minutes. Even though this was the first time we met, it felt like we were old friends. We had exchanged so many emails planning our trip in Patagonia that it felt like we’ve known each other a long time. She is very friendly, welcoming, warm and easy to talk to.
Across the street from the guest house is a small shop where we were able to add balance to our sim cards. Next to the shop is a bakery. Their pork and cheese empanada was good. We didn’t eat too much from the bakery because we were having dinner at the guest house. We had salad, salmon with a side of potatoes and veggies, ice cream and a wonderful glass (or two) of Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cecilia told us its perfectly fine to drink tap water everywhere in Patagonia. All the water is fresh from the glaciers and is perfectly safe. We don’t need to buy bottled water. She also told us the cell phone service in the park is sparse but hotels we were staying at do have internet. Our guide will also have a satellite phone in case of an emergency.
During dinner, Cecilia went over our itinerary in detail for the next few days, told us what to expect, and assured us that everything has been taken care of but if we needed anything else, to let them know. We had to re-pack a few things for the next 4 days at Torres Del Paine National Park in two back packs. We would leave the rest of our luggage at the guest house. We were scheduled to leave the guest house at 6 am the next morning so we called it an early night.
I’ve never gone with a travel company in all our past travels. The main reason is I like having the flexibility to change my plans last minute. However, when I started reading about Patagonia and Torres Del Paine I learned that weather can change suddenly, especially in winter. Trail markings can be hidden by snow and it’s hard to stay on track. If you aren’t familiar with the terrain, it’s easy to get lost. We could be stuck in snow for a very long time.
The best option is to go with a local tour guide who knows the area well and what to do if the weather changes suddenly. So, I started looking at different tour companies, individual day trips options, and other combinations. After doing a lot of research and emailing a dozen or so companies, I decided to go with Chile Tour Patagonia. They offered a very personalized option, tailored to what I wanted.
Many other tour companies gave me an a-la-carte option which I wasn’t interested in. I know I don’t enjoy horse back riding or bicycling so having that as an option and paying extra for it just didn’t make sense. Chile Tour Patagonia worked with me to come up with an itinerary that I wanted and preferred. We went back and forth A LOT planning everything. The cost was very reasonable and the best part was we would have a local tour guide with us on our hikes.
I couldn’t be happier with Chile Tour Patagonia. Everything was taken care of and it was perfect! I couldn’t have planned it any better. If you are looking for a tour company in Patagonia, you won’t be disappointed with Chile Tour Patagonia. This was one of the best decision I made.