Puerto Natales, Chile, South America
I had a great day in Torres Del Paine today! And then I got the worst news of my whole eight months traveling. The day had a bit of a bumpy start too. I was told that the tour company was going to pick me up between 7:30am and 8am. I got up at 6:30am, got ready, had breakfast, and was ready to go at 7:30am. It turns out the company forgot me, so I was sat at the hostel waiting for them until 8:45am. The company sent a van out to pick me up and bring me to the first site which was a cave, and I met the rest of the group there. I don’t think I really missed anything too important, but it was a strange way to start a tour.
I checked out the massive cave for a few minutes and then had to run to catch up with the group before we left to go to the next place. It wasn’t very nice weather to start today, cold, rainy and windy, so I was really happy that I was sitting on a bus for most of the day. We had about an hour and a half drive from the cave to Lake Sarmiento which is the largest lake in the national park, but we actually got a view of it from outside the park. It was really beautiful. The water was an incredible blue color, just like Laguna 69 in Peru, and there were some massive mountains behind it that created a beautiful landscape.
We moved on from this lake to Laguna Amarga, which is the last lake and viewpoint before entering the national park. It was the only point today that we were able to see the actual Torres del Paine (Towers of Paine). It was pretty cloudy up at the top of the mountains, so it wasn’t a great view, but we still got to see them. We continued on to the ticket office for the national park, and paid the 14,000 pesos (£14) to get in. It’s good for two days, but I’ll just be using it for one.
We went into the park and checked out a couple more lakes, and one waterfall. The wind at the waterfall was unbelievable. You really had to lean into the wind just to stay standing up. The scenery was beautiful there though. The colors of the lakes was pretty incredible. Some were blue, some were green, and the last lake we got to was grey.
To get to Grey Lake we drove through what used to be a forest. There was a really bad fire a few years ago so the landscape is now covered in burnt trees. It’s actually really cool looking but no one on the bus wanted to stop and take pictures, so I couldn’t get any. I was also in one of the worst seats on the bus because I was the last one to get there, after being left behind in town. The bus had two seats on one side, one seat on the other, and then a seat folded down into the aisle. Of course, that’s the one I was on. And I was in the aisle seat at the front, so I had to wait for every other person to get on the bus before I could get on so I wasn’t blocking anyone’s way. It was just ridiculous. I did meet a nice group of Mexican students on the bus though, so they made the bus ride much more bearable.
We stopped for lunch near the waterfall at a small cafe where I overpaid for a chicken sandwich, but I didn’t really have another choice. It was pretty good though, so I wasn’t too upset. Plus I was starving. After lunch we finished our drive to Grey Lake. This is where we were able to see Grey Glacier, and some small icebergs in the lake. It was cool to see how blue the icebergs were, but they were really small, and pretty far away. I would have been more upset about it if I wasn’t heading to Antarctica in a week (or so I thought).
After we saw the glacier, we started our drive back to Puerto Natales. It was supposed to be three hours, but a new road opened up yesterday and it only took two hours to get back, so that was a nice surprise. I said bye to the Mexicans, grabbed a bite to eat on my way to my hostel, and then came back to get the worst news of my whole trip.
I got a call from Ryan at about 9pm asking if I had heard from G Adventures. I hadn’t, and he just started laughing. They had just called him (during his going away dinner with his family) to tell him that our whole Antarctic cruise is cancelled. They didn’t give him a lot of information, just that something was wrong with the ship and we weren’t going. We were both devastated. We booked this cruise over ten months ago and it is the one part of my trip I was most excited about. I’ve done a lot of cool things this year (Galapagos, Machu Picchu, Easter Island…) but Antarctica was the number one place on my list to visit. I can’t believe it’s been cancelled, and only five days before we were meant to start.
Because of the time difference, I couldn’t call my friend and travel agent, Laura, because it was now midnight in Scotland. It’s going to have to wait till tomorrow morning, but I don’t know what we’re going to do. G Adventures has already canceled the cruise for both of us, and Ryan’s flights. I don’t know if there’s a possibility of getting on another ship at the last minute, and who knows how much a flight for Ryan would be at this late hour. It’s really not looking good, but I don’t want to give up on this dream trip to Antarctica just yet. I’m really hoping Laura can work her magic and find us something.
I was planning on going for a hike to the caves and a viewpoint tomorrow, but it’s going to have to wait until after the discussions with Laura. With 130 other people also having their cruise canceled today, I imagine we’re going to have to work fast if we’re going to find another ship with availability on it. Fingers crossed for tomorrow morning!!