Puerto Chacabuco (not a typo)

You will notice on the above map that nowhere will you find a number for the taxi service in Puerto Chacabuco. For that reason we booked our first excursion with Travel With Alan. Destination, Rio Simpson National Park. Once again we were tendered to shore, this time to just a little dock that led us directly to our buses. NanSea was there to make sure we a) were wearing our TWA buttons (which we damn well better be), 2) had our color-coded tickets (we did), 3) got aboard the right bus, and 4) remembered which seat we were sitting in, and, most importantly, 5) if we sat in the front the last time we better be seen in the back this time. Since we had not been on the previous excursion we decided to sit in the middle. Once all conditions had been met, we were off! We had a local college student for a guide and he provided some very nice color commentary about life in this part of the world.

The approach to Puerto Chocabuco which is also the beginning of the Chilean Fjords.
The approach to Puerto Chocabuco which is also the beginning of the Chilean Fjords.
This is also the beginning of the area where you find salmon farms, a growing part of the Chilean economy.
This is also the beginning of the area where you find salmon farms, a growing part of the Chilean economy.

As we wound our way through the countryside we passed through breathtaking valleys which huge cliffs on each side. Here was the problem: Antarctica Part 1 481 The windows were so dirty the camera couldn’t focus. Not only that, the bus never stopped the entire way to the park. This was not the driver’s fault. There was no place to pull over. So, people, take my word for it. This area is absolutely beautiful. Maybe you can find some pictures on line. Clearly this is part of Chile not yet ready for the tourist trade. Eventually, we made it to the park. Antarctica Part 1 490 The Rio Simpson park is very pretty and easy to hike. But, we could be just as happy in the Hocking Hills. This is not going to put you on a jetliner headed south. But the road leading here could. There is one feature to the park that is pretty cool, though: Antarctica Part 1 493 If you look on the right side of this rock you will see the outline of a face. We stayed here for about a half hour then went to a nearby waterfall. Antarctica Part 1 500 Again, very nice. It was here that we ran into a couple of Chilean salmon farmers who had stopped by to check their traps: Antarctica Part 1 505 Obviously, they have a lot to learn about the salmon trade. There was also a nearby shrine. Shrines are abundant throughout Chile. Antarctica Part 1 499 From here we wound our way to the village of Aysen. The village lies along the Aysen River, which, the tour guide told us gets it’s name because most of the year there’s ice in it. A welcome play on words, given our language difficulties. Aysen is a very pretty little town, surrounded by mountains.

There is only one bridge across the Aysen, so they made sure it's a good one.
There is only one bridge across the Aysen, so they made sure it’s a good one.
A field just outside town.
A field just outside town.
A very nice park in the town square.
A very nice park in the town square.
A development on the edge of town.
A development on the edge of town.
The view from one side of town.
The view from one side of town.
The view from another side.
The view from another side.

Soon we were headed back to the ship. It is always nice to see that it is still there, where you left it. Antarctica Part 1 544 In no time at all we were on our way home .Antarctica Part 1 548 When we got back there was only one thing we needed reminded of: Antarctica Part 1 559 These are replaced in the ship’s elevators daily. Otherwise, how would we know? On the way out of town I tried to talk Dianne into investing in a little fixer-upper which could easily become our winter home: Antarctica Part 1 556 It was no sale. Once more we were headed down the fjords: Antarctica Part 1 570 This was one of the few waterfalls we saw the entire trip, unlike Norway where they were around every corner. Don’t know why, because there’s plenty of snow. Antarctica Part 1 580The thing that sets the fjords of Chile apart from Norway or Alaska is, they are totally unspoiled. There are no villages, no cell towers (We weren’t kidding when we said goodby to the cell phones), nothing but trees, mountains and the sea. Rarely did we see even a boat, and when we did the first question was, where did he come from? In Alaska, if you were ever stranded in one these places, you could count on being eaten by something in fairly short order. Down here, though, there is very little wildlife. Not even Devil’s Club to poison you. Almost a letdown. But very, very beautiful. Antarctica Part 1 590 As we were talking to our new friends on the ship it was evident that none of us knew much about Chile and really had no expectations one way or the other. As it turned out, all we could talk about was how incredibly beautiful this place is. Surprise, surprise!

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