Exploring Patagonia's Fjord Route on Ferry Esperanza

Written by Peter Lauffer
March 30, 2023
Esperanza Ferry Route

Are you ready to embark on the ultimate adventure? Join me on my last adventure on Patagonia's Fjord Route, an awe-inspiring journey through some of the world's most beautiful and untouched landscapes. There was no better way to experience the Chilean channels than to travel on board the Ferry Esperanza. This vessel is more than just a mode of transportation - it's a comfortable but straightforward floating hotel, complete with comfortable cabins, good cuisine, and stunning views from every angle. As I cruised the fjord-like channels, I witnessed rugged mountains, narrow passages, and crystal-clear waters teeming with wildlife. As an experienced adventurer, this journey left me breathless. So I packed my bags, grabbed my camera, and got ready to explore Patagonia's Fjord Route on board the Navimag Ferry Esperanza - an adventure I'd always remember.

M/V Esperanza - Ferry between Puerto Montt and Puerto Natales 🇨🇱

First Day: Boarding the Ferry Esperanza

Our boarding was delayed by 24 hours. We had to check in for the ferry at the Hotel Versailles on the outskirts of Puerto Montt before being transported to the ferry by mini-buses. 

We finally boarded the vessel at around 6 pm. The ferry offers various cabin types, all with private showers and toilets. Although I had booked an inside cabin, I was assigned an outer cabin with four berths. The cabin options include inside cabins with 4 and 6 berths, outside cabins with four berths, and a suite, each equipped with a large locker box for each bed.

Cabin Esperanza Ferry

Before dinner, I took some time to observe the loading of cars, lorries, and fright onto the ferry. The dining room felt like a high school or university cafeteria, but the food was excellent and abundant for a ferry journey.

Dinning Room Food Buffet on the Esperanza Ferry

It is not permitted to consume alcoholic beverages in public areas on board, and there are no alcoholic drinks available for purchase. 

The ship remained anchored at the harbor, waiting for the latest cargo to be loaded until 3 am, when departure time was scheduled.

Harbor of Puerto Montt 🇨🇱

Second Day: Enjoying the Ferry and the Seabreeze 

At 7 am, upon waking up, I found the ship moving towards the southern part of Chiloe Island. The cafeteria where we had dinner also served breakfast from 8 to 9 am. Despite the rain, the outside decks were still enjoyable and had ample space for passengers to walk around.

Navimag Esperanza Ferry Deckplan

There were three decks in total, and even in wet weather, there were many covered areas to take photos or pass the time without getting wet. Lunch was served between 12 and 1 pm. After lunch, the weather improved as we sailed through the wide Fjord-like channels in the northern part of the journey.

Our Ferry on the way to Puerto Natales

The afternoon passed quickly as I read my book and made new acquaintances. Dinner was served between 7 and 8 pm, followed by a discussion of the next day's program. I intended to retire early to bed because, around 3 am, we were told to reach the open sea. Southern Chile's Pacific Ocean is famous for its rough sea. 

Lecture onboard Navimag Ferry

Third-Day: Getting Sea Sick

I woke up at 3:44 am due to the strong motion of the ship, which was going to be on the open sea for the next 13-15 hours. Although I couldn't sleep, I wasn't seasick, just uncomfortable. Despite my discomfort, I managed to get breakfast, but I had to balance myself to reach the breakfast table. On my way back to my cabin, I noticed that many people were unwell and confined to their cabins. Fortunately, I had a cabin to myself. 

I felt much better watching the weaves coming than being in a windowless room. The weather conditions were not terrible, and the ship was sailing at an average speed; nevertheless, the bow part closed due to high waves.

The afternoon was sunny, and I spent most of it in the lounge area, which offered a beautiful view of the front of the ship. In the lounge area, snacks and nonalcoholic drinks are available for purchase.

Forth-Day: Breathtaking scenery during the whole day

As soon as I woke up, we arrived at the Cotopaxi shipwreck, surrounded by picturesque Patagonian landscapes.

Cotopaxi Ship Wreck

The morning and afternoon were incredibly awe-inspiring as we navigated through narrow channels with only a few meters of space on either side of the vessel. Before lunch, we encountered Puerto Eden, an indigenous village accessible only by water. We were able to catch glimpses of distant glaciers in certain areas.

Narrow Channels in Southern Chile

The journey felt like a river cruise through mountainous terrain. Later that evening, the ship had to halt for a few hours due to the tide, and we had to wait until it was high enough to continue. Despite this, it was a delightful day on board, and we had a peaceful night.

Fifth Day: Getting closer to civilization and reaching Puerto Natales. 

On the last day of our journey, we were treated to the most breathtaking sights. We traversed through the narrowest part of the entire route and finally arrived in southern Patagonia. The weather was fantastic, which only enhanced the already perfect scenery.

Fjord like Channels in Southern Chile

I spent the whole morning on the decks, admiring the passing landscape as the ship sailed through channels surrounded by towering mountains. We had a meal onboard for lunch, and by mid-afternoon, we had arrived at our final destination, Puerto Natales. However, due to strong winds, we could not dock at the harbor and had to spend additional hours onboard. Eventually, we could enter the port and disembark, but it was more than 72 hours later than our intended arrival time.

Southern Chilean Patagonia

Conclusion and Final Thoughts

Exploring Patagonia's Fjord Route on board the Ferry Esperanza is a unique and unforgettable way to experience one of the world's most beautiful and untouched landscapes. With stunning scenery, and a range of onboard activities and amenities, this journey offers something for everyone, whether you're an experienced adventurer or a first-time traveler. Have a flexible schedule at the end of the trip in case the ferry arrives late. Keep also in mind that on the vessel is no cellphone connection and internet available. Patagonia's Fjord Route on board the Ferry Esperanza - it's an adventure you'll always remember.

Navimag Esperanza Ferry arrives in Puerto Natales
Get inspired by some photos of this amazing trip:
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