Taking the Navimag Ferry through the Patagonian Fjords

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
8
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
1
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
4
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
5
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
3
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
8
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
62 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
South America
country
Chile
Length of time
3-4 days
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 550
Time of year visited
January
Primary Tags
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RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
182nd/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 60% SUMMARY RATING: Great experience

Summary

There is so little development in this part of the world that one of the only ways to see the stunning Patagonian Fjords is through the industrial-style Navimag Ferry that makes its 3 night / 4 day route between Puerto Natales and Puerto Montt from October to March

I personally enjoyed the experience of the journey in such an isolated part of the world, watching the albatross and whales popping along to say hello, and being in amongst the interesting people you get chatting to onboard, so I’m glad I did it

But there are a few things to be aware of: 1. It is heavily weather dependant (we were not very lucky); 2. The ferry is not a cruise ship so is far from luxury (think less Royal Caribbean and more Dover-Calais); 3. You are stuck on the ferry for minimum 3 full days with no stops, no wifi and no alcohol; 4. You must give yourself at least 24 hours leeway in timings as it seems to always run late and bear in mind the ferry usually only leaves once a week; 5. The Carretera Austral looks to be a very good alternative

highlights

#1 Watching the Patagonian Fjords go by, getting hit by the ferocious wind and feeling the sheer isolation of this part of the world as you pass only one village on the 4 days trip

#2 Completely chilling out with no wifi or TV and enjoying talking with your fellow passengers

#3 Watching in awe as the majestic Albatross follow the ferry for hours on end while expertly navigating their way within inches of the tall waves

Rough itinerary

  • Depart either Puerto Montt or Puerto Natales at varying times depending on how late the ferry is arriving
  • 3 /4 days on the water
  • Arrive at either Puerto Montt or Puerto Natales, likely 24 hours late 🙂

Travel Tips

  • Bring some books and Netflix etc downloads.  Yes the views are beautiful, yes you can enjoy the isolation and watch the fjords go by, yes there are some games provided and some mild entertainment put on, but it is also 4 days on a fairly basic ferry with no wifi and no TV
  • Alcohol is not sold and not allowed on the boat.  However, no one searches you and it looked to be that you could have a drink as long as you weren’t open about it.  They do have alcohol free beers though!
  • Bring some seasickness remedies.  I was fine but others looked to be suffering as there is a final part before you reach Puerto Montt that is in open ocean so can get bumpy (have a look at two of the videos to get a feel)
  • There are two broad chill out areas (other than on the outside deck).  One is the canteen and the other the kind of lounge area.  Take the opportunity to meet some of your fellow travellers to share tips on the next stages of your journey – what else are you going to do for 4 days!?
  • We took a BB cabin and it was fine.  The booking site can be very misleading as to what you actually get – for us it was a cabin that could sleep 4, had a window and used the public bathrooms.  It was very tight for space, but you’ll only really be sleeping there
  • The food is buffet / school dinner style.  Its not actually too bad and the staff are super friendly, but I’d suggest bring some snacks should you be a picky eater
  • Make sure you give yourself a MINIMUM of 24 hours leeway for connecting lights etc.  Ours arrived a day late and, from what I’ve heard, this is a regular occurrence
  • Wrap up!  It should go without saying in this part of the world, but even in summer wrap up warmly – the wind on the deck was FREEZING!

Experiences nearby

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Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone