After a 3 hrs. bus ride from Punta Arenas, we arrived at Puerto Natales after 1 PM. It was pouring rain there, so we ate lunch at the bus station cafe which had decent hot dog and sandwiches. After lunch the rain had stopped, we took a taxi to Garden Domes which was booked and paid by ChileTour Patagonia.
The room was very nice but I would never stay here if I was booking the trip myself. It is located quite far from the town, about 1.5 miles from the bus station, so it was impossible to walk there with luggage (especially after dark since there was no sidewalk all the way). It was not a problem for today since there were several taxis waiting at the bus station around 2 PM. But on day 6 when we came back from our W Trek hiking, everyone arrived at the bus station at the same time (after 11 PM), imagine how hard you had to fight for a taxi! If it was up to me, I would rather stay at some place near the bus station.
1. Our cabin.
2. View from our cabin.
3. View from our deck.
4. Puerto Natales.
5. Black-necked swan at Puerto Natales.
6. Puerto Natales.
7. Puerto Natales.
Both the W Trek briefing (at 7 PM) and welcome dinner (at 8:30 PM) were handled by Garden Domes. Had we known the briefing would start this late, we would have booked a later bus to Puerto Natales, and go see penguins at Punta Arenas this morning. Another little detail they forgot to tell you.
ChileTour Patagonia had many departure dates for November's 'W Trek - Classic'. In fact the dates I booked was not my first choice, I wanted to book 2 days earlier but it had only 1 spot left, so I booked this one. Who knew it actually worked out better for us because the weather had been bad for days at Torres del Paine before our arrival.
I assumed there would be a lot of people on the tour, so we were surprised to find out there were only 5 of us: Dave and I, plus a family of three from London. That was it! The London family liked to walk fast and get to the refugio early so they could shower and rest before dinner. We liked to take our time on the trails. So after the first day which was a guided hike, we pretty much walk seperately from the London family and only saw each other at night.
The girl who did the briefing with us said she had been to Torres del Paine National Park many times to guide tours, so you would assume she knew what she was talking about, but not only the briefing was very confusing but also later we found out several things she told us were incorrect. Like:
So even though I was quite happy with ChileTour Patagonia's 'W Trek - Classic' itinerary, I was not happy with the resources they used, in particular Garden Domes, for their inconvenient location, and for their confusing / incorrect briefing. The guide for the first day hiking, Jose, is a good guy, I really liked him. But there was miscommunication between him and the Garden Domes, caused us not having a map for the trek, and one girl had no water to drink for hours until we found a mountain stream later.
(To be continued)