Chris' 1994  R100GS/PDChris' new bike, a 1996 F650ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650
Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

Feb 22, 2002 -- 2 years and 9 months

Credit to  Boat tour through the Patagonian Fjords and Channels

-- Story by Chris --

Several months ago, when planning for their trip to Chile, my parents booked a boat trip from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales. It’s a 4-day/3-night excursion on a ferry/passenger line, the route zigzagging through the islands, fjords, and channels of southern Chile. Many overlanders who travel down to Tierra del Fuego / Ushuaia utilize the ferry, either to avoid the 2,000kms of gravel roads through Patagonia’s Ruta 40, for their return north after driving south, or just for the scenic views.

The cost for a 2-person AAA cabin is $1,584 ($792/pp). The cost for an AA cabin (4 person) is $1,592 ($398/pp), basically the same total cost! My father offered to treat us to this trip, as it would cost my parents would save $4.00, and enjoy the time with us. Three squares are included in all pricing, and either above option offers travellers a private bath and window. The difference is the AAA cabin has one set of bunks, a small desk, and small sofa, while the AA cabin fills its interior with two sets or bunks. There are also "A" cabins for $345/pp which are 4 person berths without window and shared toilet, or dormitory rooms with 22 bunks for $297/pp. Motorcycles are an additional $44 each. All pricing is one-way. There are 2 ships which sail round trip every week, allowing for 2 trips a week, in either direction.

Monday, Feb 18th: We woke early at Hospedaje Rocco, had breakfast, packed our gear for the trip, and left the non-essentials (motorbike stuff) behind. My parents had spent the night further north in Fruitillar, a lovely town 45 minutes north that they had visited years before. We traipsed our gear down to the port, checked in, and were told our luggage would be in our cabin when we boarded later in the evening. We had some time to kill before boarding at 6pm, but knew how to fill the time usefully – we went into town to gather some extra supplies for the boat trip: Fruit, Cookies, Chocolate, Water, Wine (5 bottles worth), and a bottle of Tequila. It is not uncommon to pay a premium for these items on a ship at sea (lack of a competing supplier on board), so we decided it was best to stock up on these important items.

Mom & dad also needed to use an Internet café, to tell their friends they were still alive, and brag a bit about being in southern Chile. They each got their own machine, and pounded away at the keys until Erin and I were forced to drag them away from the screens – they were like children watching Saturday morning cartoons!

We reported back to the Navimag offices/pier for the 6:00pm briefing/introduction, after which we were allowed to board our ship, the newly refurbished SS Magallanes. She carried 2 floors for vehicles only, of several dozen truck trailers each, plus about 30 cars, and has additional decks with sleeping capacity for 300 passengers, a cafeteria, and bar. Most of the foot passengers are foreign tourists (North American, European, Asia-Pacific) heading to Torres del Paine National Park for views of the Glaciers and some of the best trekking on earth. Carrying our hoard from the supermarket, I thought we looked like a group of refugees, carrying our heavy possessions in plastic bags. We found cabin 228, a 4-person closet with a large window that was sealed closed, small private bath (with shower), some locking storage, and stale air.

Shortly before 7:00pm, we had all our gear properly stored in our cabin, although it things went much smoother with 2 people fussing about at a time while the other 2 stood in the hall. We were one hour from departing, and 2 hours from sunset. We made our way to the top deck, where we poured some celebratory cocktails and began to relax as we gazed into the clear late-day sky.

The ship pulled away from the pier only a few minutes after 8:00pm – a minor miracle in Chilean tardiness. Most things in Chile, and the rest of South America begin late. It’s a common theme, and not one to get excited or agitated by.

Dinner was adequate (as all the meals would be) – very similar to high-school cafeteria food, with proper nutrition, quantity, and a faint semblance of taste. It was no better, and no worse.

Tuesday, Feb 19th: We all slept well, and woke just before the 8:00am breakfast bell. The four of us rolled out of our bunks, surprised at how well we all slept! After breakfast, we headed to the upper decks, found seating, and sat for hours soaking in the fjords, snow covered volcanoes, and glaciers. If you’ve visited/enjoyed the fjords of Norway and/or New Zealand, you will be impressed with this trip.

Around 3pm we arrived in Puerto Chacabuco where we landed for 90 minutes while some passengers and cargo were off-loaded. We were free to wander around the small, nondescript town, which most of us did, simply to stretch our legs. For motorbikers travelling north from Tierra del Fuego who don’t want to ride on the more difficult parts of Ruta 40, this would be a good place to travel get off (rather than continuing to Puerto Montt). It is at the bottom of the Camino Austral, just north of Coyhaique. The views and roads to the north are gravel, but very easy and well worth the wonderful scenery!

Before retiring for bed, we had to take a few precautions for the upcoming journey in the open sea of Golfo de Penas ~ we were warned to expect heavy seas and a very rocky boat. We all took some Dramamine (which helped), and mom even brought the little wristbands (which also helped). Fearing it wouldn’t be enough, we had a few drinks earlier in the evening, just to be sure J I woke a few times in the middle of the night to the rolling of our ship, but managed to close my eyes and fall back asleep almost instantly.

Wednesday, Feb 20th: Waking just before 8:00am, we all felt pretty good. That is, until we got out of our beds – the rocking is very soothing when sleeping at night, but trying to get to the toilet I felt like I had just drank several large beers in the last hour. We all bounced off the walls, literally, until about 10:00am when the boat found its way back into the calmer waters of the protected Messier Channel.

We went through several beautiful fjords and channels, encountering seals, many types of birds, and we even spotted a pair of small whales of the port side in the late afternoon. They were about 150meters away, but we could clearly see the spouts of water each time their airholes broke the surface.

Just before dinner, we encountered a large white object floating in our path. From a distance it looked like a power boat, but as we got closer, it’s true form came apparent – it was a piece of an iceberg! The captain brought the bow right up to the edge of this chunk as all the passengers gawked over the leading edges. We were stopped with the iceberg bumping lightly against our bow. After sufficient "happy snaps" were taken, we nudged the berg out of our way and continued down the spectacular channel. Another beautiful sunset was spent sitting on deck, staring, enjoying the peace and the moment.

Thursday, Feb 21st: The buzzer sounded just after 7:00am, and we were instructed to get on deck if we want to see the famous Torres del Paine – stone/mountain pillars. The sun was barely up, the clouds were low, the air was cold, and the wind was strong – We were freezing, but the views were spectacular, forcing us to loiter on the outer decks in the cold wind.

After breakfast we returned to our cabin to pack our belongings, and we reached the dock just after 10:00am. The friendly staff was there to bid us farewell and wish us well as we made our way off the ship. On our way off the pier, we stopped for a final photo in front of the ship, grateful for the journey and wonderful memories.

To book a trip on Navimag or elswhere in the region:  For more information on Navimag:


The Ship:  Magallanes -- built in Japan, refitted in Chile 2000

The Bridge -- Captain is sitting in his chair

The very friendly crew

Nicole, Carmen-Paz, Roberto, y Fernanda




Our spacious 4 person berth:

4 beds, 4 lockers, window, and private bathroom

Ah, good morning dad!

Just passing through another channel...

Another typical view -- blue skies, calm water, some glaciers, and snow-covered volcanoes in the background

Over the blue horizon

Chile.Navimag.ViewHorizon.JPG (9800 bytes)

Sunset on the last evening

Sunrise approaching Torres del Paine National Park


  Previous Chapter | Next Chapter


TOP | About Us | Costs | FAQ | Journal Entries | Links | Motorcycles | Photo Gallery | Supporters | Guestbook | HOME

  Sure, send us an email E-mail Us

There are probably dozens of errors on this website (if not more).   
If you notice/have any problems, please send us an email: Webmaster

The goal is not the destination, it's the experiences along the way.