In early 2013, after my short stay in El Calafate with a hike on the Perito Moreno glacier and a day trip to Cerro Fitz Roy, I headed to Puerto Natales on the bus with my new friends to board the Navimag. The Navimag operates ferries which are modified cargo ships that travel between Puerto Natales (in the South) and Puerto Montt (in the North) of Chile. It is the quickest and easiest way to traverse between the Lake region and Patagonia – aside from getting on an airplane.
We had pre-booked the 4-days 3-nights ferry ride when we were in Ushuaia, right after our return from visiting the Antarctic peninsula. We had just spent 18-days on an excursion ship and visited the Falklands, South Georgia Islands and Antarctica. So in some ways, the thought of getting on another ship was a bit perplexing.
In my mind, the journey on the Navimag was to decompress and process my experiences after a month into my 2013 Epic Journey. The epic journey was about gaining experiences, spending quality time with new friends, enjoying nature and learning from various cultures. I’m pretty sure a flight would have been cheaper and definitely faster however, it almost felt like a Rite of Passage to be on the Navimag.
International travelers and local Chileans board this ship and traverse Chile on a regular basis. I had the opportunity to meet and chat with people with RVs, motorcycles, cars and cargos in the cargo hold of the ship. We shared fun and interesting stories with each other while on board.
The food was definitely simple and served the purpose of filling my tummy. I mean I don’t think they intended to use their food as a selling feature, though they do offer healthy choices and vegetarian option.
Each day a new memo was post on the ferry to inform us of the daily menu, intended route and planned activities. Yes, on the first night Karaoke was the main feature!! On the final night, we all played Bingo and prized were given to the winners!
As we traveled along the coast of Chile and wove through fjords, I was able to appreciate nature from afar. Though sadly, the weather did not cooperate when we passed by the Amalia glacier. Then just like it was pre-planned the skies cleared after we sailed away from the glacier – what are the chances?! Though the sunsets were beautiful and progressively the days got warmer and more pleasant as we sailed north.
The Navimag offers different grades of accommodation. For those with a tight budget, there are beds in the general hallways with secured lockers for personal items. As I was traveling with 2 friends, we decided to share a small room and Navimag paired us up with a fourth traveler from the Netherlands.
Overall, the experience on board the Navimag was memorable and enjoyable.
When it came time to get back on land and say farewell, I was surprised how quickly I bonded with some fellow travelers within 4 days. It appears that I am more willing and open to share personal stories and experiences with complete strangers who are friendly and non-judgmental. I didn’t need to hold back in fear of a critical eye. I felt free. I was able to be my new self. My True Self.
Before embarking on my 8-month journey to 14 different countries, quite a few of my friends and colleagues did not understand why I left my career in structural engineering – let alone taking a round the world journey solo. I felt like walking on eggshells each day, as I was not sure what type of reaction I will receive and from whom. I noticed some were projecting their own fears onto me and my decision – I decided to do what they secretly want to do. I was pushing the boundaries, leaving my comfort zones and walking into the unknown.
Through this process, I found out who were my true friends as they loved and supported me unconditionally – well with a bit of worry and hesitance, understandably. Life is a constant learning curve. The saying “Better Late Than Never” definitely applies here.