Published: June 13th 2012May 28th 2012
Our last day here in Ushuaia was to be a big one. The tour that we had booked involved boarding a boat that took in a famous Lighthouse, the historic Harberton ranch as well as several species of wildlife including Sea Lions, various birds and of course penguins, over a 9 hour period. Looking out of the window of the hostel brought us great joy and relief, as although a little windy, the sky was blue and the sun was out. And so, off we went down to the office where we had booked our tour. When we arrived, the receptionist was desperately trying to make a call from the office, with little luck, and for what reason, we had no idea. After 10/15 minutes of this, she finally made her connection and very briefly chatted to the caller on the other end. Being in Spanish, we had no idea what this was about, but it didn’t seem to be much of an issue as after the call, the receptionist was still smiling. It turns out that this particular receptionist must have just been a happy person in general as after she had relayed some information to the Spanish speaking among
us, it was then our turn in English for which there was bad news. Although the weather conditions looked OK from where we were, there was in fact a large storm brewing in the sea in which we were due to be heading towards, and because of this storm, no boats were given clearance to leave the port that morning. This was a disaster as this was our last day here, and therefore couldn’t simply change the date as the receptionist suggested. The only thing that we could do apparently was to wait until 3pm and see if the weather was good enough then do a slightly shorter trip, but which still took in everything bar the ranch. This wasn’t ideal, however it seemed to be the only thing we could do, so we wandered back into town, and set about waiting. In this time, we did try several other avenues to try to do a similar trip, however everywhere we went, we were met with the same news…it just wasn’t possible. Once we had exhausted all options, we simply gave up and grabbed our free gifts from the office being a ridiculously good hot chocolate and a tacky tourist
map of Ushuaia.
After waiting round all afternoon, we finally returned to the office just before 3pm to be told that the weather was still as we had left it in the morning, and therefore there was no way we would be seeing any Penguins today, or on this trip. We were all pretty disappointed, and none more so than Louise ‘I’m obsessed with Penguins’ Patey. Still, we dusted ourselves off from this and instead, decided to hire a car for the remainder of the day, and visit Harberton ranch on its own as to not waste our last day, and at least see one of the things that we were due to see today.
Hiring a car in Argentina was about as straightforward as buying a packet of crisps. Within 7 minutes of entering the car hire place, we were shown to our Chevy parked outside. Armed with the simplist of town maps, a promise that getting there was ‘easy’ and a driver who isn’t used to driving on the wrong
side of the road (namely me) we were off and heading towards the ranch on the most southerly road in the world. To be honest, getting
used to the car wasn’t too hard as I had driven on this side of the road previously whilst in Italy and so after passing some amazing scenery, we were at the ranch within about an hour and a half. Once there, we took a brief tour of the museum housing skeletons of seals, dolphins, whales etc. where it was incredible to see just how big some of these sea creatures are. Following this, we were then given a tour of the ranch itself, which really was quite fascinating to both see and listen to. Rather than me try and remember the details, if anyone is interested in hearing more about the ranch, here is a link that will hopefully give you a good insight http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estancia_Harberton
For us, this really was an enjoyable visit, and we were really glad that we decided to hire the car.
We had a good hour and 45mins in order to get the car back to the hire place before they closed, so we wasn’t in any hurry when we set off on the ride back. After having navigated the dirt road that makes up around half the journey, we were then
onto the main road back towards Ushuaia. Almost just as we had got onto this main road, it seemed the storm that we had cursed earlier for failing to let us go on our trip today was suddenly away from the water and now directly above us. With no lights on the roads what-so-ever and with the rain pelting down furiously, all three of us were desperate to get to Ushuaia ASAP. Donna sheepishly asked how many more KM’s we had to go, and when my answer confirmed 12 an eerie silence went through the car where I think we all wished it was less. Just as we had established it would be 12km more, the rain suddenly turned into snow, and within a click of the fingers we were now driving in the middle of a Patagonian snow storm! The next 30 mins or so were pretty tense, however we took our time, didn’t panic and safely made it back to the town centre, and with 2 mins to spare before the car needed to be back!
Due to the not so fun car ride, we all decided a treat of Patagonian lamb and a couple of bottles
of wine were in order, and so we headed to the local recommended restaurant for lamb. Here, we toasted to our last evening, and what a fantastic time we had had, in the most southerly town in the world…..
There are more photos below