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South America » Argentina » Tierra del Fuego » Ushuaia
March 20th 2009
Published: March 21st 2009
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After a quick breakfast of tea and croissants - a bit of a theme seems to be emerging - I headed off for a quick morning exploration before the group meeting at 10am.

Ushuaia

First impressions - WOW what a stunning setting for this little town, surrounded on all sides by amazing mountains. There's a large port area with huge ships docked that look destined for Antarctica and here there's also a cluster of places vying for tourist trade on the many boat trips on offer. There's a main hight street with all sorts of shops from clothes boutiques and outdoor gear shops to electricals, childrens toys, cafes, bakeries, a supermarket and even a couple of rock shops (one with beautiful rose coloured marble - I think - and the other decorated outside with grafiti style skull and cross bones and selling rock stuff of an entirely different variety - rock on!).

My hotel is set up the hillside that surround the bay and there's a boarded walkway and steps leading down from this and other spots further along into town. I sat writing my travel journal half way up these steps looking out over the stunning scenery of the bay framed by the snow capped mountains swimming in glorious sunshine, with blue skies and fluffy clouds all around. It's pretty windy though and there's a chill in the air. It was then time to head back to the hotel to meet my fellow travellers. I was in room 101, the place where all things that people hate are banished to. I hope this isn't an omen and that my group likes me lol!

I first met Rosamoren from Holland who's been in South America for weeks already and is a very good Spanish speaker (hooray) then came Linda from London who's here for this trip and then travels for another couple of months. Also we have Daniel from Australia who saw me on the same flight from Buenes Aires and wondered if I might be a Dragoman person too. Then there's Chrisanthi from Greece but living in London for the last 10 years or so. Also from the UK are Lucy and Steve who are both archaeologists. The two Danish guys didn't show so they remain a mystery for now.

After a long meeting going through the tour, what to expect, where we'd be going, how things work on this kind of overland trucking and camping style tour etc with our tour leader Rob and driver Daniel we decided to head off together with Rosamoren acting as our unofficial tour guide (she's been here for 4 days already and knows all the best spots). She recommended the Tango boat company for our trip to see the islands and wildlife so we went and booked with a friendly guy down by the bay where I'd been earlier that morning. Then went off to get some dinner from a local bakery before going back for our boat trip in the afternoon.

WOW what a stunning, amazing, awesome start to the trip. We had the boat to ourselves (a small boat a bit like our Bardsey Island boat, with cabin at the front and seating area outside. Cameras and camcorders went into overdrive it was just sooooo stunningly beautiful. BIG GRINS! Almost immediately we saw albatrosses - how amazing is that? Black and white cormorants flashed past us and gulls with red beaks and legs soared past too. We came to the first island and it was heaving with sealions adults and pups and loads of the cormorants we'd seen flying past. The sealions were lazing on the rocks, quarrelling, lumbering over each other and generally hustling each other. So amazing to see these creatures in the wild instead of performing tricks in a zoo!!! We visited about 4 islands in all with two types of sealions and so many birds. We got as far as an ancient light house, now lit using solar power and once thought to be the end of the sea! We didn't drop off! Then we headed back with a stop ON one of the islands via a very rickerty set up of a mooring. Our guide was Ruben, a bit of a character who joked the whole way round, breaking into song all the time and making for a very fun trip. We had wine and cake on the way back.

We then made our way back to the hotel to freshen up before meeting up with the other people on our tour, the old group, for a meal out together. There are mostly girls in this group, all very young and talking non stop! They are all very friendly from Emma, Rose, Aimee, Lucy and Steve, Phil and Heather, Eleanor, Paula, Lisa and some more whose names I can't remember yet. The meal was great and it was lovely to get to know people a bit better. We ended up in an Irish bar - they are EVERYWHERE in the world I swear. Last year it was St Patricks Day celebrations in an Irish bar in Kathmandu!! After too many beers and dodgy cocktails it was back to the hotel past the amusingly named babies clothes shop. Cheeky Mr Cock!!!! It's true! Photo to come!

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