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After a fantastic month hiking through Peru , we reluctantly moved on. We arrived late at night in Santiago and shuttled to Hostal Rio Amazonas at Plaza Italia. The next few days were spent planning and arranging our Chile trip, which had been a blank slate.

We then caught a bus to visit interesting Valparaiso, an historic city built on 35 hills, with creaking funiculars to get around. We stayed at The Grand House, were the family made us welcome and shared information about Chile and their city. Dave and I celebrated our 37th anniversary with a great meal at Caves del Mar.

The next day, hiking the hills around Valpo, we were mugged when 2 thugs jumped Dave and wrestled his backpack away. Fortunately, Dave was not hurt and nothing of value was lost, as we carry passports, camera and money on our persons and never in the pack. This is the first time something like this has happened after travelling to some 40 countries, so we can't be too upset. Dave says we were overdue.

Valparaiso, built on 35 hills around the bay.

We took a coast train to Vina del Mar to visit the archealogical museum's exhibit on Easter Island, and found a gem of a restaurant that we returned to again for some of the best meals we enjoyed in South America.

Again we caught the bus, back to Santiago, in time to catch the luxury "camas" (bed) bus overnight to Puerto Montt. There we hopped aboard a cargo ferry with a couple dozen other tourists. The boat can carry 150 passengers, but off-season we got a four-person cabin to ourselves ($300 US PP for the 4-day trip, including meals).

Puerto Montt, where we board the Navimag cargo ferry...

in the busy fishing harbor.

The Navimag ferry travels weekly roundtrip from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales, down the Patagonian fjords, making a single stop in remote Puerto Eden. There locals can catch the ferry north or south at a government-subsidized $3 for the overnight run to the next port. The ferry dropped off bags of potatoes for the town. They must survive on fish and chips. After the ferry anchored, a dozen boats come out to exchange people and food.

The Captain allowed us up on the bridge to pass through narrow channels, and we got to visit the huge engine room. We enjoyed meeting other tourist passengers, finding that many were on year-long travels. You can't get this far on a vacation.

We climb down into the ship's bowels to see the huge engine room.

Dave is not allowed to touch the controls.

The ferry winds south through fjords.

Big ship. See the crewmember on the port bow.

The ferry stops at Pto Eden.

It is getting colder as we work south.

We squeak through narrow passes at slack water...

Barely wider than the ferry.

Arrival at Pto Natales, our destination.

There is a long wall of beautifully painted murals.

Floating mountains across the bay.

Arriving in Puerto Natales we enjoyed the hostal of that name. We rented a car to visit Torres del Paine, a wonderful Patagonian park, where we took a boat to visit Glacier Grey, and again shot way too many pictures of the splendid ice and magnificent mountains. It would be great to return someday to "hike the W" staying at the refugios scattered thoughout the park.

In our rental car we drive into Torres del Paine park

To Lake Grey.

This fox is snoozing on the beach, indifferent to us.

The icebergs seem to make this sign unnecessary.

Wearing every layer we have, brrrr.

The view from our room.

Granite spires.

We hike along the lake to see the glacier.

A daytime moon is peeking over the peaks.

We ride a boat to get a closer look at the glacier.

Iceberg chips in the pisco sour.

Los Cuernos - the Horns.

Vicuna roam the hillsides.

We hike to waterfalls.

Torres del Paine - the Towers.

Back in Puerto Natales...

We enjoy pizza strudel.

We caught a couple more planes and two days later where in tropical Easter Island , a sharp contrast to chilly Patagonia.

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