Phase 3 of our Patagonia adventures and we visit Ushuaia and Tuera del Fuego.
As our boat pulled into the port, you could see the Patagonia mountains in the distance.
Ushuaia is the closest port to the Islands Argentina call the Malvina’s and which they claim as occupied unlawfully by the British. The staff on the cruise ship very diplomatically referred to location to Port Stanley, avoiding causing offence to either nation.
As we pulled into port, the ships tannoy said not to wear any overtly British clothing or symbols so as not to cause offence to the local population.
I don’t normally travel with a bowler hat, so that presented no problem for me. I’m proud of my country, but I’m an adventure traveller, I don’t go to other people’s countries looking to make a point.
This sign was the first thing you saw as you walked along the causeway (I’ve put it up, as I’ve shown similar signs with the opposite view on my section on the Falkland Islands). It was also obvious, that someone had tried to vandalise it.
On a more adventure travel note, this is the main port for ships visiting Antarctica, so the harbour was completely full.
Wandering around, it felt a bit like Blackpool.
And looking out to Sea, superb views of the Beagle Channel and the mountains beyond.
We found this sign, about the sinking of the Argentine ship General Belgrano on the 2nd of May 1982.
323 men died after a torpedo attack by HMS Conqueror. The site is now designated a war grave.
We carry on wandering, the place is quite colourful and the people were certainly friendly, even though they could tell we were English.
A remembrance garden to people who were “disappeared” by the Argentine Junta, and in the corner a section dedicated to the beloved Eva Peron.
Finally, this memorial to people killed during the Falklands conflict.
After a sobering moment of reflection, we head to the meeting point to join our first tour of the day Tierra del Fuego National Park.
Our first stop is the Rio Lapataia river.
Overlooking it, the Alakush visitors centre – the familair museum, cafe & souvenir format.
Our guide spots this rare, Black Necked Swan on the river outside.
In Zaratiegui bay, the post office at the end of the world.
They call Ushuaia the town at the end of the world, as its the most southern place in South America.
On the bank of the Acigami lake.
The lake was very popular, and even had this “1 way” system to reduce congestion.
A 40 minute countryside walk with our guide.
Not many animals to see, but she tells us about the history of Yaghan people, the original indigenous people of the region.
We stand at the end of the Pan American highway.
Running 19,000 miles from Prudhoe bay in the United States to Ushuaia.
A 45 min walk through a sub Antarctic forest.
With views across the beagle channel.
More of a fast hit tour than the ones were used to with lots of “see for 10 minute” sights. But I suppose that’s the only way a half day tour of all these things can work.
Main reason we’d picked the half day tour, was to fit in a boat trip to the Beagle channel. So back on our bus heading for Ushuaia docks .
What we call The Beagle Channel is basically, the straits between Chile and Argentina its 150 miles long and 3 miles wide. It was made famous by Charles Darwin is something I’ve wanted to experience all my life and I could hardly contain my enthusiasm.
We board our Catamaran.
A group of older Americans were sat near us. One chap in particular was really loud. I realised his hearing aids hadn’t been configure properly.
He couldn’t hear himself accurately, so was shouting all the time. I thought for a moment about offering advice, and then thought better of it.
In Nao Victoria Museum in Punta Arena, they have an actual size replica of HMS Beagle.
Their exploratory mission was so isolated, that the first captain committed suicide. He was replaced by Robert FitzRoy on the 2nd voyage of the Beagle, but this time took Charles Darwin who had funded his own passage.
A recreation of Darwin’s tiny cabin, which he shared with 2 other people.
It was so small that he had to remove a draw from one of the cupboards so he could lie down to rest and recover from sea sickness (which affected him frequently).
It’s in this cabin where the ideas of Evolution through natural selection and his first book On the origin of species were formed.
And his most famous quote (which has inspired me throughout my life) “It is not the strongest of the species, nor the most intelligent that survives, but the one that is the most adaptable to change” must have been coined.
We cast off. At this point, I’m very conscious, that were in the “footsteps” of Charles Darwin.
The Beagle Channel, the Straits of Magellan and the Drake Passage are the three navigable passages around South America between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
Nikki prepares her binoculars and I get a glass of red wine (ok, were embarking on an adventure, but no reason not to enjoy ourselves while were doing it).
One of the little islands (which actually, are just rocks) and the mountains in the background.
Les Eclaireurs lighthouse. Sometimes called the lighthouse at the end of the world, an iconic symbol.
We visited so many Islands, that I lost track. The one I do remember, is this one, Sea Lion island.
We pull up on an island loaded with wildlife.
Nikki decides to leave the sanctity of cabin and the smell is atrocious.
Time for our Catamaran to head back. Retracing the steps of one of the definitive explorations of all time.
My lasting memory, this Island with just 1 seagull on it.
Some parts of Patagonia, we were able to see from our Cruise Ship. As we sailed through the Bernardo O’Higgins national park we got to see this incredible sight.
But it came at a cost -we had been told the night before, that we would pass by the Glacier around 6am in the morning.
I’ve never known a trip where one minute I’m wearing shorts and next a -10 down jacket. But it was that cold !.
A bit closer, the Amalia Glacier up close.
Another famous location, the Cape Horn, located 56 deg south and 67 deg west, the meeting of the Atlantic an Pacific Oceans.
But there’s not actualy anything there, we only knew it’s significance, as the bridge (using GPS) were able to tell us where we were.
That’s what causes most of the confusion. Next outcrop along, there are buildings and the like.
This is actually a Chilean Naval Station and Lighthouse, manned all year round. But, even though you can visit it, it’s not the Cape Horne.
Elsewhere on the rock, is an albatross shaped monument to the 800 ships and 10,000 mariners lost at sea in this region.
I’d love to get a Land Rover and spend 2 weeks exploring Patagonia. But since I haven’t won the Lottery, nor sold a Kidney, I think I’ve seen a lot off cool stuff, in 3 days 🙂