Puerto Natales: We take the bus across the bleak, wind-assaulted deserts of Patagonia to the Chilean border town of Puerto Natales. Corrugated shacks of metal and timber huddle against the cold, overseen by the town’s only solid structure, the church.
Most of the inhabitants have moved here from elsewhere in Chile, Argentina or Europe, drawn by the tourist dollar. It’s a lonely outpost with little competition from rival towns, so every price is hiked high. The tourists come for a different hike: the Torres del Paine (Paine’s towers), reputedly one of the most spectacular trekking regions on the continent. (Paine was the diplomat who sorted the messy dispute over borderlines between Chile and Argentina.)
We’ve come here for the same reason. Tomorrow we set off on our 4-day walk in the park. We’ll post pictures when we return.