Bienvenido al Fin del Mundo

Ushuaia, Argentina

There was some misunderstanding and our wake up call never came this morning. Instead, we were woken by the sound of the blaring horn of our shuttle bus, which was ready to take us to the airport for our 9:40 a.m. Lan flight to Ushuaia.

As we rushed to get our bags together, the friendly guys at the front desk offered to take us in their white Ford pickup truck, circa 1965. We happily obliged, threw our bags into the back and enjoyed the stylish ride. At the airport, we checked in without any problems, made our way to the gate and were airborne more or less on schedule.

It was another beautiful day — and the hour-long ride was smooth and offered some unreal views of the estancias that fill this largely undeveloped part of Patagonia. Wheels were down at about 11 a.m. in Ushuaia, which is the southernmost city on Earth — the acclaimed End of the World (“Fin del Mundo”) — and the capital of Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire), the island that forms the tip of Patagonia.

Ushuaia is a surprisingly bustling place, and after waiting far too long for our bags, we made our way to Macondo House, a small and modern boutique hotel with commanding views of the Beagle Channel.

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We set our bags down and walked two blocks to San Martín, the main drag in town. Burt bought some new trekking pants; my search for a new hat was also successful at another of this city’s many outdoor stores. We both now officially love gear and continue to build our collections.

I’d read about Ramos Generales, a quirky French bakery dating back to 1906, so we headed there for lunch. We had some delicious sandwiches on fresh baguettes, local Cape Horn microbrews and a small selection of handmade chocolates.

Properly fueled, we walked down to the port to sign up for a cruise of the Beagle Channel, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Our first choice was the Tres Marias, a complete junker of a fishing boat that we thought had plenty of character — if nothing else. Unfortunately, rough seas were keeping the good ‘ol TM in port, so we went with our second option: the Yate Kams. We set off at 3 p.m. under partly sunny skies and moderate winds, as Ushuaia slowly faded into the distance.

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Our first stop was Isla de los Lobos, where a huge colony of sea lions live. There were hundreds perched on the rocks, basking in the sun, slithering around and barking. The highlight was this absolutely gigantic male, who sat surrounded by females and occasionally growled at them.

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We weren’t sure anything could top the Monster Sea Lion but thought it might be possible. So we stayed on the upper deck as the boat cruised to Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse, built in 1919 and the real symbol of Ushuaia.

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Leaving the lighthouse, we passed by an island of king and imperial cormorants (which, from a distance, looked like penguins).

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After a short trek on Bridges Island, where archaeological remains of the indigenous Yamanas people can still be seen, we got back on board, had a maté (an Argentine tea that is truly a national pastime) and made our way to mainland.

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At the hotel, we showered up before heading for dinner at Maria Lola, a stylish restaurant with great views. We split a delicious and fresh order of fried calamari; my steak was cooked perfectly and Burt liked his seafood risotto. Dessert was ice cream made with berries from the el calafate plant. It is said that those who eat el calafate will return to Patagonia.

Let’s hope that this is the case.

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Comments

  1. nice pictures 🙂
    interesting stuff too

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