Today we took a very pleasant 250km drive from Punta Arena to Puerto Natales which is in the region called "Last Hope". The road was in excellent condition throughout and very quiet. This allowed both driver and passenger to enjoy the passing scenery of scrubby tundra at first with the occasional sheep farm later. The jagged, snow-capped mountains in the distance grew larger and clearer as we progressed. The skies were grey but at least it wan't anywhere as windy as it could have been for this time of year.
We are spending two nights at Hostal Natales ($A175 for two nights) which is in a very central location. Puerto Natales is much smaller than Punta Arenas with only 16,000 inhabitants. While the water so far has been safe to drink the plumbing appears to be very delicate as everywhere has signs asking you not to put the toilet paper down the toilet but in the bins.
We visited the Mylodon Cave which is 30 kms north of Puerto Natales . Here in 1895 they found the remains of a giant sloth a Mylodon – an extinct animal which died 10,200–13,560 years ago.
In the cave and other nearby caves they have been found remnants of other extinct animals and human remnants. Interestingly non-Chileans pay more than double the entrance fee that Chileans pay so we are contributing more for the conservation than they are!
For dinner we ate at La Bote I had a nice steamed Sea Bass (in white wine, tomato and cheese) and Grae had Lomo a lo pobre which is beef tenderloin with fried onions, fries and a fried egg. He's ordered this a few times and has yet to get any tenderness out of the meat.