Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Puerto Montt, 19-20 Jan Navimag MV Evangelistas 4D3N cruise, Chile 20-23 Jan 2012

The journey from Bariloche to Puerto Montt was interesting because we could see the damage caused by Volcano Cordon Caulle. The entire Andes mountain range between Argentina and Chile was covered by ashes, trees are suffocating and lakes are no longer blue, in fact it looks like snow storm, it was unfortunate for the Argentinean as the wind always blow from the west to the east so the ashes always flow to the Argentinean side. The smoke from the Volcano Cordon Caulle can be seen from the bus, it looks like an explosion of an atomic boom!

I only spent one night in Puerto Montt, my host was really nice this time, so far Chilean CS has never failed me! There are 3 other couchsurfers surfing with him at the same time I was there. A couple from France who travel with their bicycle in South America and another lady from Argentina. That night we had Asian dinner at home, Cristophe the French CS cook Thai curry and I cook the rice. My host bought few bottles of wine and we had a great meal. I wish I could have spent more time here as my host seems to be an interesting person, he does all kind of outdoor activities like ice climbing, rock climbing, cycling, canoying, rafting and so on. But I have a boat to catch the next day. I will be boarding Navimag MV Evangelistas on a 4D3N cruise from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales. I hope to see a lot of glacier and see some whales if I am lucky.

Navimag MV Evangelistas
The Navimag MV Evangelistas is a half cargo and half passenger ship. I couldn’t get a space in the cheapest dorm so I have booked myself in a quad share room. We boarded the ship at noon but we only set sail at 4:30pm. I shared a room with 2 French and a Swiss. There are 2 bunk bed and 2 cabinet at both side, it is very tight, we have to get into our bed if all 4 of us are inside. The ship has 5 levels, bottom 2 levels are for the cargo and the access prohibited. My rooms are at the 3rd level where most of the rooms are, at the 4th level there is the dining area, the bridge and more rooms. At the 5th level, there is a bar and a helicopter pit. There are about 300 passengers on board but the ship is large enough to scattered everyone around. During the 4 days on board, 3 meals are included per day and we had documentary session and talks about glacier, flora and fauna.

The first two days of the cruise, we saw many Minky whales. A few of them were as close as 10m from the ship. I managed to get some good shots and video out of it. We also saw dolphins and sea lions swimming along the ship. We were supposed to visit the 2nd largest Glacier in the world, Pia Glacier but due to some unforeseen weather, winds, waves and currents. The captain announced that we can’t make it to the Pia Glacier instead he will bring us to another more accessible Glacier called Iceberg Glacier. To me, it doesn’t make any difference as it will be my first Glacier, I have no mean of comparison. It looks damn big and impressive to me as the ship approached the glacier as near as 300m away from it. It took my breath away. I was told the glaciers here are the only one in the world that are advancing where else the others are reclining.
Iceberg Glacier

Puerto Eden
On the 3rd day, the scenery gets more interesting as the ship sail pass the Torres del Paine National Park, we can see lots of ice capped peak and hanging glacier. We stopped by a little village called Puerto Eden, as the ship needs to unload some cargo, we get to visit the village. We have to put on the orange life jacket the whole time, we all looks so stupid with it. The village only has population of over 200, all of us on board swam the little village. I bet the satellite will be able to spot a sudden invasion of orange dots at this little island. It is really pretty and peaceful here, no cars or road and inaccessible. Only Navimag pass by once a week and a weekly transport boat take local fish and shellfish product to the market. The village is known for being the home for the last Kaweshkar people. We had an hour stroll on the wooden boardwalk around the village and hop back to the ship.

On the last day, it started to get bored. We lost the excitement of watching whales and seeing the mountain range. It was cloudy, drizzling and cold. We were all waiting to get to Puerto Natales. We were 6 hours late by initial schedule. Finally we arrived around 7pm. It has been my first cruise and most probably be my last. I prefer to do something more active then just sit on the boat for 4 days and do nothing. But I did met some great friends whom I traveled together for the next few weeks. :-)


MV Evangelistas 

4D3N Cruise on Navimag from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales - US$480

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