Argentina – Ushuaia

Thursday morning we woke up at our hostel in San Telmo and rushed to get ready for the airport and our shuttle. Unfortunately, in the early morning chaos I forgot my camera 😦 I remember putting it in its case, but I don’t remember putting it in a bag and I didn’t have it at the airport. Luckily Jenny has a camera and we are making due with that and our iPhones. After a ridiculously long baggage check line, we boarded our 3.5 hour flight directly south to Ushuaia. This town is called “The End of the World” and served as a refueling port for boats circumnavigating the Americas or on their way to Antarctica. We were met by our travel agency and taken to Hotel Los Ñines just outside of town. It is an adorable, European-inspired winter hotel. We look out over the Beagle Channel and stare up at wooden-framed ceilings.

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After checking in, we added a few layers (it’s only 40 degrees here!) and caught the free shuttle into the center of town. It was raining so we decided to knock out the Maritime Museum and Prison Museum first thing. This was a combined network of information situated in the former prison. It was actually quite fascinating and I recommend it to anyone who finds themselves in town. After that we enjoyed a late lunch (it was probably 4pm by this time) of cordero (lamb) pizza with a side of smashed pumpkin. The pizza was very good and gave us a flavor of the Italian influence and local meat. We wandered around town a bit more after that until our shuttle arrived at 7:30 to take us home. Since the sun stays up until after 10pm, we enjoyed a snack of assorted dark chocolates and worked on various projects in our room.

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Yesterday morning started with a continental breakfast of ham, cheese, amazing croissants, fruit, and yogurt. At 8:30am we departed on our tour in a van with six other tourists, a driver and our guide Anna. On the agenda was Tierra del Fuego National Park which spans hundreds of miles at the very tip of Argentina and Chile. Our first stop was the End of the World Train where we dropped off those guests who had booked this excursion. We hadn’t and were soon glad since it was only an hour and through a rather boring section of the park. Skip this!

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Instead of the train, four of us went on to Ensenada Zaratiergui where we did a short nature hike. We learned about the four species of trees that grow in the park, saw a few sea birds, and enjoyed stretching our legs while taking in our surroundings. Before leaving this spot, we stopped in the most southern post office in the world. It’s run by one man and sits on a pier in the cove here. It was a really cool experience going in and meeting the manager!

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After picking up our four train friends, we traveled to Lago Roca, a large lake further into the forrest. We saw a mountain whose base was in Argentina and whose peak was in Chile. Go figure! Continuing on, we next stopped at Bahia Lapataia, the bay that sits at the end of route 3. This marks the end of the Pan American Highway, which starts some 17,848km (??? miles) away in Alaska. There was a nice walking path with bridges over the marshes there and we enjoyed exploring for a while. Then it was back in the bus to head into town.

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We had lunch at Chiko, where I ordered merzula (sp?) aka sucking fish, which is native to these waters. It was so good and warm, which was important. We made the decision at this point to switch our tickets from the shorter boat excursion that afternoon to the longer boat excursion Saturday morning. The reason for that choice was to add Penguin Island onto the lighthouse and sea life tour. Both our guide and the tour office supported our choice and we were happy with it too… Who doesn’t want to see penguins?!

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With our newly acquired free time, we went back to hotel for cash and minor wardrobe changes before a quick u-turn into town for shopping. Our first stop was Laguna Negra for free hot chocolate from our tour. We also bought an alfajor de maizena, which is a lemon shortbread cookie with dulce de leche sandwiched in the middle. Delicious! We manage to find a few unique souvenirs and then went back to hotel on the 7:30pm bus. We opted for a simple steak and seafood soup dinner at the hotel restaurant since we’d been running around all day. We didn’t eat until 9:30pm and the place was still empty as we were ahead of the rush, lol.

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This morning we were up early and enjoyed the same continental breakfast as Friday. We checked out of our room and left our bags with the front desk. Then we called for a taxi to town so we could catch our boat tour. Unfortunately, in the biggest disappointment of the trip so far, the harbor was closed due to wind 😦 Jenny and I were both fairly upset about this, for good reason. We had been told that there was a chance the Penguin Island portion would be cancelled due to weather but that the harbor rarely closed altogether. So by gambling on penguins we missed the chance to go see the lighthouse and sea life. But what could we do about it now? Either way penguins would not have been possible due to the weather and we can’t control that!

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We were told there was a slight chance the harbor would reopen if the winds died down and we might be able to squeeze in the short tour (no penguins). So while we waited for that verdict, we took a cab 7K out of town to Glacier Martial, home of the most southern ski runs. They weren’t in snow but we hiked up and around for a while before we began our descent. The panoramic views of Ushuaia and Beagle Channel were breath-taking and the sun was out for the first time since we arrived. Unfortunately, it was still too windy for the boats so we now had plenty of time on our hands.

After a cup of tea to help us brainstorm other ideas, we finally decided on the Museo del Fin del Mundo (museum of the end of the world). The cashier was sick so we got in for free, which was great! It was quite small and while informative, nothing like the Maritime and Prison Museum from the day before. Still feeling bummed about the boat, we finished our exploration of Ushuaia and headed to the airport. Ultimately, highlights were Tierra del Fuego National Park and the first museum. Oh, and being at the end of the world 🙂 That’s all for now, next up… Glaciers!!

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Argentina – El Calafate | Rays of Funshine
  2. Trackback: Argentina – Buenos Aires Day Trips | Rays of Funshine
  3. Trackback: Argentina – Palermo, Buenos Aires | Rays of Funshine

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