This link is a really interesting article written by Thom Hogan. For those who don't know him, he is a well-known and highly-regarded American travel photographer who does extensive reviews of Nikon equipment. He was leading a group of American photographers who got stuck in Torres del Paine during the strike. His facts are in sync with the forum's reporting but he is obviously writing from his own experience and perspective.
http://www.ilovechile.cl/2011/01/20/my- ... anes/16227
For more information visit: https://www.spencerglobal.com
From USA and outside Chile dial 1-917-727-5985 (U.S.), in Chile dial 65 2 42 1024 or by cell 747 97974.
After several days of traveling around the park in our bus, our tour guide felt it safer for us to remain on the hotel property, not crossing the extremely narrow "black bridge" in the hotel vans to reach our bus on the other side. That was because the owner of the hotel had a connection with the president and was not totally on the side of the strikers. I don't really understand this (wouldn't her hotel business be hurt?), but that's politics for you.
The hotel did provide some food and free camping to the campers before they all left through the 2 daily hour-long windows of opportunity. We stayed, not being sure we could get any further than Puerto Natales if we did get out - as we later learned would have been the case. In addition, we heard that some of the hotel vans had been confiscated by the strikers. Fortunately our overall tour was longer - most of us were not due to leave Santiago until the 19th - so the only real disruption to our trip was that we were not able to visit the lake district near Puerto Varas. The hotel or our tour company covered all our extra hikes, horseback rides, and hotel expenses.
We left the Hosteria on Monday the 17th, exiting the park through the Castillo gate to avoid Rte 9. Our bus driver has a connection with the strikers and so was able to get us through the one barrier we encountered north of Puerto Natales, to our great relief! Most of the people stranded in Puerto Natales had been evacuated by then and our stay was ueventful,except for noting all the closed businesses with signs in their windows supporting the strikers. I wondered how the few that were open managed to be so without reprisals, but I didn't ask.
We were anticipating tension at blockades between the town and the Punta Arenas airport on Tuesday, and were quite relieved to hear that morning that the strike had ended. We drove to the airport with no trouble at all.
Doesn't make a difference. We were fed the same cr@p by Sky. We just got out at Pto Montt instead of continuing to Pta arenas straight into the troubles as they suggested us to. Lost the rest of our tickets, as well as our PAID reservations in Pta Arenas, Natales and TdP. Lost a bunch of money there but at least we didn't get stuck for 6 days in Pto. Natales like some people we met in our hotel in Pto Varas. We decided to go to Argentina. Although we loved Santiago and ate the best dinner of our vacation in pto Varas I'm not sure Chile will see ever us again.