Published: June 12th 2012May 26th 2012
It had been 17 or so hours since we had left El Calafate, but finally we had made it. The bus journey consisted of one change of bus and a water crossing on a transport ferry. As the skies were a little moody and because we were in Southern Patagonia, we expected the water to be quite choppy whilst crossing on the ferry, however after leaving the bus and climbing to the viewing deck, we were met only with calm waters and a bleak grey outlook to the land we were heading for.
Ushuaia has the credit of being the most southerly town in the entire world, and to our amazement we were now only a mere 1000km away from Antarctica and the legendary Emperor Penguins. A brief look at the prices in order to get to Antarctica meant that Ushuaia would definitely be as far south as we would be going, but I think all three of us simultaneously thought…maybe one day?
To our amazement, although it was a little cold here, the temperature was actually surprisingly mild. This was a pleasant surprise to us all as although we were residing in a place where penguins call home
and there are snow-capped mountains in every direction, we didn’t have a jacket between us!
Once we had checked into our hostel, the first thing we decided to do was hit the cosy looking ‘pub’ that was opposite. The word pub is in inverted commas as although this is how it appeared from the outside, plus the sign that read ‘pub’ it was actually in fact a restaurant. Still, no matter, they still served Patagonian beer and had some huge yummy cakes on the dessert menu, so without shame, we simply drank their beer, ate their cake, and just pretended that we were in a pub!
We woke the next day with several new guests in our room. One of these guests was Lou as we were unable to get a room together on the first night, and the others were a couple of girls from England. After having a chat with the girls, they had told us that as they were only in Ushuaia for a night, they were going to try and see some penguins today on a boat trip. This was handy for us, as this is what we wanted to do whilst here also,
and we figured we could find out what their trip was like and then decide exactly what to do from there. For us, today was about getting to know Ushuaia better and so after a delicious hot chocolate, we headed to the museum and former jail. Museums are not generally my favourite thing to do, however this particular one was actually very informative about the history of both Ushuaia and the jail itself as well as providing interesting information on the first settlers of Ushuaia – The Yasaswas. The exhibits were also housed within individual jail cells and for me, this gave it some extra clout and added to the experience.
For the evening’s entertainment, it was clear what we needed to do. We needed to drink plenty of beer and getting drunk was a requirement rather than a choice. Why? Because it’s what the entire world seems to do every year on this momentous occasion. For today….it was St Patricks day!
After having skipped dinner and drinking way too much alcohol before going out, the three of us, along with the 2 English girls made our way to the Irish bar. Inside, we were met with hundreds
of drunk people, U2 on the speaker and some very sticky floors…. I don’t know if this is what goes on in Ireland for St Patrick’s day, but it very much resembled every bar in England on the evening of March 17th
! So, after queuing for some time, we were finally served and told that there was no Guinness…..disaster! No Patrick’s day could be complete without this major ingredient. Fortunately for us though, the bar had a solution/compromise to this…their compramise was Green beer. To be honest, we were all a little sceptical of this at first, however by that time, our previous alchol had started to take affect, and we didn’t really care, and so several pints of green stuff were duly consumed. Our memories of that evening are all very hazy and probably luckily so.
Planning to go out on a hike the morning after St Patrick’s day was downright optimistic at best. After waking at near midday however, all talk of a 7 hour trek was out the window and a mission instead to find bacon was the new goal for the day. We never did find any bacon, however it seemed our hangover cure was
actually right in front of us anyway. Since we couldn’t trek in the national park today, we decided instead to walk around the waterfront of Ushuaia and take in some of the beautiful scenery. This was a great theory, however the fact that the weather had changed from mild to ‘bloody freezing’ alongside a nasty southerly wind from Antarctica meant that our hangovers were now the last of our concerns, and being dry and warm overtaking them. At one point along our ‘costal walk’ we all looked at each other and cracked up as to what we looked like, and wondering why on earth we were torturing ourselves like this…
The one productive thing that did come out of the afternoon was that we had finally booked our penguin trip. This was a must here in Ushuaia because firstly Donna and I really wanted to see some penguins, but also because Louise NEEDED to see some penguins as she is border-line obsessed with these funny creatures!
The next morning was a busy one for us. We had to change hostels in the morning as the one we were staying at had no room, plus we had to make
up for yesterday’s shame and go trekking in the national park. We made our way to the national park in one of the public minibuses that takes you to and from the park at set times. The driver of this minibus was probably one of the friendliest people we have met in Argentina, and made it her business to make sure we knew the in’s and out’s of Ushuaia as well as telling us a heap of information about the park and surrounding areas. This was all in superfast Spanish, however I think we got the gist of most stuff. So, each armed with a map of the park and a bit of a picnic in the bag, we set off on our three hour hike on the popular costal path. The scenery here was simply beautiful and the walk in and out of the forest was one that we all enjoyed greatly. Having done this walk, we decided as we had a few hours left before the bus was due to pick us up, that we would walk a little more in order to see a few more sights. These sights included the end of all roads heading in
a southerly direction, some beaver damns made by the now pesky north American beavers that were introduced here, and arriving at the final point of the national park where it was forbidden to cross as to cross would mean entering Chile. On the way to do all of this, we were lucky enough to see both female and male Patagonian woodpeckers only meters away from where we stood on a viewing deck. This was awesome!
So after a grerat days treking and seeing some amazing scenery it was time to head back to the hostel for some home made Spag Bol a few well earned beers and an early night, as tomorrow, we were off to see some penguins!
There are more photos below