THE WINTER IN Puerto Natales, Chile is long and unforgiving. I spent four months grateful for GoreTex and marking hours of darkness with a constant stream of caffeinated beverages.
Still, even in winter, it’s a mistake (one I saw most gringos making) to just pass through town, budgeting only a day or a few hours before bussing off to Torres del Paine.
If people do stay, it’s typically just to walk up the main roads a few times and around the Costanera. Maybe the tourbook-induced hysteria about walking into the wrong part of town in South America is in play, I’m not sure. Natales is safe enough that I once had an iPod I’d left on the bus returned to my doorstep by a stranger.
When you go, spend a few days, explore on foot, and get outside the paved roads of predictable, touristy downtown. This is Natales, al natalino.