Published: February 3rd 2012February 1st 2012
The plains of Argentina on the way south to Ushuaia
Our final Chilean destination was Punto Arenas. The main tourist attraction here are the Magellanic penguin colonies. Marco was convinced that they are exactly the same as the Jackass penguins. Either way, we decided to give this sightseeing trip a skip and rather went to the Naval Museum. Among other things, we watched an entertaining video of a sailboat that sailed around Cape Horn in the 1950s. The cameraman gave a blow by blow account of the happenings en route. We had thought of doing a remote hike to the southernmost point of mainland South America, but a look at the weather report changed our minds. We visited an interesting cemetery though: large burial vaults/houses dedicated to families. As per our tradition, we went out for a final dinner to reminisce our Chilean experiences. We both chose a traditional meal. Marco, a pork dish and Phil, a hare stew (which she struggled to eat once she thought about the fluffy bunny).
We set off to Ushuaia - the southernmost city in the world. Ushuaia reminded us a bit of PE: many locals make serious work of zooping up their cars and then racing down the main drag. The wind also
blows (many a flag is half its length) and there is also a harbour. The setting, however, is completely different. After driving along endless plains, we were surprised to find Ushuaia nestled amidst mountains and glaciers. Here, the weather changes more frequently than Superman strips out of his Clark Kent clothing (ok, very cheesy, we know).
Our plans on doing a hike were once again delayed by the wet, icy weather. Instead, we had a nice evening in our comfy hostel enjoying a home cooked chicken schnitzel and bottle of wine. Nothing deterred us from setting off the next day though. We took a wrong turn and ended up befriending two dogs who ended up accompanying us along our entire hike. We made several attempts to scare them home, only to find them following us at a distance, hiding behind bushes and freezing each time we turned around. Our hearts melted and we took them under our wing, sharing our lunch, pasts and oats with them. The hike started off with a 1 hour detour as we lost the path and ended up walking through marshy areas. Day 1 was mostly Lenga forest, ending with a super steep uphill
Cargo boat stranded in the bay
to a beautiful lagoon, which we arrived at just as the rain began to fall. We also enjoyed watching a beaver swimming from one side of the lagoon to the other, floating twigs back to his den, quite an amusing sight! Beavers were introduced in the 1940s and have been wreaking havoc in the area, especially as they have no natural predators. One gets paid to kill them, but we did not feel that jumping into the icy water was worth the effort.
Day 2, the four of us made a slow start in the beautiful, sunny weather up the pass, where we were greeted with beautiful valley views at the Paso de las Obejas (pass of the sheep). From here, the map misled us once again into more marshy areas, only to discover the real path lay up a steep scree slope, costing us an extra hour of walking. The rest of the day was spent hiking through bouts of hail and rain. The potential storm strengths were revealed to us when we walked through a forest section with heaps of massive trees lying across the path from a recent storm. This turned our walk into more of
Andorra Valley Hike
Our two loyal companions
an obstacle course.
Upon reaching town, we hailed a bus so we could drop the dogs off at home, only to be turned away by the bus driver as dogs are not allowed on buses. We ended up trudging through dog infested suburbs, where a really persistant alsation (who followed us for kilometres) finally got the message when one of our dogs attacked him. We turned to our hostel for help in getting the dogs back home, then to the police, and finally to the pound who picked up the dogs and took them home. Exhausted, we flopped into bed and had a great nights´ rest.
The opportunity to be this far south comes rarely, so we felt a boat cruise would be the perfect thing to do in a locatin such as this. We booked a 4 hour cruise through the Beagle Channel, where we stopped at a colony of sea lions, imperial comorants and did a short walk on the island once inhabited by indigenous people until the arrival of the Spanish. It is thought they walked around nakes in this freezing weather (the water temp averages 4ºC in winter). We enjoyed chatting to our guide
Andorra Valley Hike
Lago de Caminantes, and our camp spot
while sipping hot chocolate and locally brewed beer.
We were hoping to surprise you all by grabbing a last minute deal to Antarctica, but unfortunately even last minute deals are a few pennies too many (in the region of 4000USD for 10 days!). The closest we got was looking at all the docked ships due to leave in the coming days. We have to leave some things for later, right?
At 5 am on Monday, we headed up north to Rio Gallegos on a 12 hour bus ride involving 2 border crossings. This was followed by a 3am flight yo Buenos Aires to start the last 21 days of our trip. Reality hit home, as we left the mountains and glaciers of the southern latitudes and hit the tropics once again. The next 3 weeks are jam packed - Iguacu Falls, Pantanal, southern Brasil and Carnival!
What we miss most:
Phil - a room that we don´t need to share with others
Marco - being able to feel his jawline again!
Marco and Phil - the canine company, boat trip and Ushuaia setting
Marco - getting lost on the
Andorra Valley Hike
The beaver´s den on the lake
hike due to an incorrect map
Phil - the bus turning us down due to the dogs
There are more photos below