December 14: Travelling to the Bottom of South America To get to the bottom of the world from the Northern Hemisphere is a long journey. I boarded my flight to Santiago, Chile at 10:15pm in Toronto. I will fly to Santiago first then take my next flight to Punta Arenas. The flight to Santiago from Toronto is relatively long at 10.5 hours.
Fortunately, my friend and international speaker Jim Carroll had some upgrade points to spare and upgraded me to Business Class. The lie flat pod made the flight much more comfortable.
The flight was a bumpy one with mild turbulence for about 60% of the flight. It was of no bother and acted to rock me to sleep. I figure I got about 5 hours of sleep which is pretty good for a long haul flight and I felt rested upon arrival in Santiago.
International travel is about patience. Don’t let yourself get ruffled with all the chaos that will inevitably ensue.
Once off the plane I made my way to Customs for my passport check. Citizens from some countries have to pay an entry fee to Chile, but Canada is not one so it was easy for me. A couple of questions, a stamp in my passport and I was welcomed into Chile. Once through customs I made my way to the baggage claim area and gathered 3 of 3 bags which is always nice.
Once my bags were gathered I made my way to Immigration. I had some maple syrup and chocolate with me so went to the declare line which is the safe move. As we have learned from watching Border Security on TV it is not good to try and sneak food into the country. As a bonus, the declare line had zero line up compared to the standard line. My food was no issue and I breezed through and was officially and legally in the country.
Now the chaos of departures comes to life. With my luggage cart piled high with massive expedition duffels and skis I pushed my way through the airport, the throngs of travelers, and said no to at least 1000 taxi drivers. I made my way to the 3rd floor for departures. Since my bags were already tagged through to Punta Arenas I made my way to the Latam baggage drop. Once my bags were checked for the next flight I went through domestic security and to my gate for my 2.5 hour wait until my flight to Punta Arenas.
While in the Santiago airport I needed to eat and with limited options I selected a chicken sandwich and fries from McDonalds. I am not usually a fan of McDonalds, but it seemed a same option. Turns out I would have rather gone without. The experience was one best forgotten.
The flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas is about 3.5 hours, but there is a stop over in Port Montt along the way that adds about 90 minutes to the journey.
At 7:30pm after 23.5 hours of travel I landed at the Presidente Carlos Ibáñez del Campo International Airport in Punta Arens. Once again I was grateful to receive 3 of 3 bags. It is always a relief when all your expedition gear arrives with you as it is difficult to replace if lost.
I jammed my stuff on a shared ride service van for the 20 minute ride into town and got to the hotel just as a large bus was pulling up. I rushed in to get to check in counter before the bus passengers. Turns out this group had just returned from Antarctica running the Antarctic marathon. I had seen this and ran a bit of the track back in 2011. It is a tough race with soft snow, cold temperatures and punishing wind. They were all very excited about their experience and accomplishment.
Once into my room it was time to catch up on some sleep. Tomorrow I will meet with our logistics provider ALE and go over all my gear and food for the trip. Christina and Saray will arrive on Dec 16.