Immersed in deep silences and unforgettable sceneries, we went on a kayak excursion across the Puerto Natales fjords. An excellent way to make contact with nature.
I was feeling like a change of perspective. But I did not want to climb a mountain or fly, but go level with the ground. It seemed to me that the idea of watching nature from a height lower than fifty centimeters could enlarge the size of things and even make me stop and see those details that are usually ignored. Not having a vehicle with those characteristics and not being physically able to do such a thing made me think that a good way to fulfill my aim would be by going on a kayak excursion. This way, I changed solid ground for the aquatic environment and I could set my original idea to work. Even though this is not a very popular sport in Chile, kayaking is one of the most friendly and amusing activities for anyone to practice. Being in shape and able to swim is enough to get engaged in this activity.
At Puerto Natales, I did not take long to spot the operator who could take me on an expedition out to sea, among the fjords close to the city. That is how I met Sergio, Mariano and Tati, who loaded the kayaks on the agency truck and organized the equipment in order to go North towards Torres del Paine.
Time for Adventure
We headed for Puerto Prat, a historical place where the first settlement in the area began to rise in the early 1900. The lack of fresh water made its dwellers move out in search for this vital liquid and settle down where today lies Puerto Natales. We got to our destination. In a few minutes, we had the touring kayaks on the shore, ready to set out. As the expedition would go across salty waters, we used sea kayaks, which unlike the river kayaks, measure more than five meters of length and are specially suitable for long trips. As a result of their greater inertia, they are more appropriate for large water surfaces where the conditions do not change every now and then. As a good guide, Mariano gave us a safety chat and taught us how to paddle in order to make the most of our strokes. We put on the rest of the equipment, made up by the deck hatch and a life jacket, and headed for the sea. Before entering the water, we regulated the kayak seats and the pedals to lead the helm. For such purpose, we got in, sat up straight and slightly bent our legs so that they would not remain outside the kayak. This is the correct position as the location of the legs keeps the balance and rowing becomes safe and stable.
In the Cold Waters of the Pacific
Once in the water, we learnt to steer the craft. If we wished to turn right, we had to press the pedal in the right and vice versa. Accompanied by Tati and Mariano, I jumped into the adventure along the Señoret Channel. From the kayak, everything seemed larger, or maybe I felt much smaller, almost insignificant. We set out by approaching the Eberhard Fyord. We passed by a duck family and between a black-necked swan couple. What is amusing about the kayak is that one gets in contact with nature in a harmonical way. Being a small low rowing craft, it hardly alters the environment. A soft breeze began to blow against our faces playing a dirty trick on us. We had to double our efforts and get used to rowing with waves. After one intense hour, we got to a point of land where we could shelter from the wind. To the left, I could see the Última Esperanza Inlet. To the South, we were leaving Mount Prat and the De los Muertos Island behind. And to the North, Puerto Consuelo, located in the estancia
bearing the same name, welcomed us when we stopped for a rest and some food to recover our lost energy. After a few seconds, we resumed out task of paddling, this time to get to Villa Luisa, which was the first spot chosen by Captain Eberhard to settle down along with his family in the late XIX century. The Patagonian wind did not let us go on. Before our arms got tired, we resolved to start our way back and thus row before the wind . We passed by Puerto Consuelo once again and one hour later we were in Puerto Prat. As the weather conditions were favorable, Mariano suggested that we should go on up to Puerto Bories. In the distance, we watched some cormorants playing to keep balance on some old posts. As we approached them, they would fly off. These birds, which resemble the penguins, stay in the area during three months in the summer season, until their young pigeons learn to be self-sufficient. The landscape was getting wilder and more atractive. We soon reached Puerto Bories, which used to be a slaughter house industrial complex founded by the Sociedad Explotadora de Tierra del Fuego
in 1913, during its days of height. This used to be the harbor where all the cattle products from most Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia would be shipped. At present, it works as a museum and, in its interior, visitors have the chance of reviewing the times of glory. As we approached the shore, the waves were higher and stronger. Mariano taught us to surf them to get to the beach at full speed. Exhausted but pleased, we called Sergio on the radio so that he would come to fetch us. I soon recovered my regular height and everything went back to normal. The day was gone but, before leaving, a comforting rest facing the warm sunbeams followed for the three of us. With the last dose of sunlight on the horizon, we returned to Puerto Natales.