We were collected by a lovely transfer guy, Emile at 9am. Once again I muttered some jumbled Spanish words obviously in the right order and was then asked whether I knew Espanol to which I promptly replied “no”. A pity as he knew no English. Given that I didn’t know any words when coming here, I have started to get a bit that at least allows me try and order food, introduce ourselves, ask for the bill, say “I don’t understand” and thank people. The basics almost – just need shopping words!
The transfer was about two hours and took us out of the park on what was probably the bumpiest continuous stretch of road that we have travelled on. At one stage we stopped at a lake to photograph some flamingo birds who were just basking on the shore line. We’re not really into birds but the colour and shape of a flamingo can be very exquisite and something to admire. We also saw numerous Guanacos which have been a bit of a favourite. They are like llamas, tan in colour with quite long necks and pretty faces. The babies are being born at the moment so there are a number of different sizes milling around where their food source can be found.
Punta Natales is a small town on the edge of a large fjord. Our hotel, the Altiplanico looks out onto the fjord and across to the mountains. It is unique in that it is partially underground and the outside is made from small bales of grass & straw. From the outside it looks quite ugly as it’s a grey colour and rectangular shape but inside it is all done with timber and cement creating a really natural and earthy feel. Each room has an incredible view, one that you just want to keep looking at and definitely the best view looking out of our room of any place that we have stayed in over this trip.
All along the foreshore numerous birds including their babies paddle on the fringe of the water and you can walk into town following the path around the fjord. We decided to catch a taxi into town so that they would drop us off at “centro” (centre of town). The taxi ride costs a whopping $4 Aus so a cheap bargain to find out where you need to go.
We spent some time looking around town noticing that siesta tends to take place from 12:30 to 3pm and so many of the shops weren’t open. We looked at one place for lunch but were unsure as to what type of food they had. As we were standing there a lovely man who was going into have lunch asked us if we spoke English and then told us (in English) that the restaurant had been recommended to him and that that was why he was giving it a try. Ok good enough for us so in we went!
The food was great and plenty of it- huge steaks, home made chips, grilled chicken and rice. At $50 for the three of us with drinks it was also well priced. Afterwards we were “full as” but thanked for the man for his advice which turned out to be a good one.
Feeling the need to work off a few calories and not wanting to pass up an opportunity to shop a little, we walked around town looking through shops and trying to find the handicraft section. Finally we did but it proved to be an area where every shop was selling the same thing so in quick time we had had a look around and purchased nothing… much to Philip’s amazement.
As today has been a beautiful day we decided to walk the three kilometres back to the hotel along the fjord. Watching all the birds including their babies swimming along the edge and looking out at the incredible vista, it was an enjoyable way to see more of the town.
We decided to eat dinner today at the hotel rather than going back into town and looking for another restaurant. We had checked out the menu earlier in the day and it looked ok for each of us so the hotel it was. Claire had been asleep for part of the afternoon as she is trying to shake a bad head cold. Philip and I spent the remainder of the afternoon chilling and watching the world go by through our large glass window.
Claire was a little drowsy after being woken up but decided to come up to dinner and have something. By the end of the meal she was extremely glad that she did ranking it as the “all around meal of the trip”. The three courses were fabulous and we really love the way that the food in southern South America is not “messed with”. It is all the original product and exactly what it says on the menu. It is also fresh and tasty. Claire’s lamb ragout with smashed beans was a bit of hit, whilst Philip thoroughly enjoyed his beef steak sandwich with egg, cheese and bacon followed by a bowl of “fritas” or chips. The big winner though was the ice cream. Three different types – caramel, strawberry cream and strawberry sorbet. We ordered one to share and then loved it so much that we ordered another one. Apart from the food, looking out through large glass windows across the fjord and to the mountains and watching the multitude of birds on the garden roof digging for worms added to enjoyment of the night.
Tomorrow we go on organised tour to the see two more glaciers in the Chile area of Patagonia and finish up the day with a lamb lunch at a local “estancia” or farm so another early morning for us (no different from most).