Ushuaia / Isla Navarino - Unfinished Symphony

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February 8th 2010
Published: March 24th 2010
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It is hard to talk about an old memory with enthusiasm but I'll try. I remember that we left Ushuaia huffed and puffed. For some reason for us Ushuaia has a taste of a miss even though looking backwards we got to meet interesting people, Pippa and Catherine, and got to see the beautiful scenery around, but whilst I wanted to do something more adventuristic Liz had a cold and I didn't feel so good to go out to the wild without her.

The Gloom - Crossing to Isla Navarino:

After spending time with my parents in Buenos Aires and meeting Liz's friends Von and Beth we rushed down to Ushuaia to catch summer. As we do in this trip we took a bus (not a flight) down south, 36 hours to Rio Gallegos and then another 16 hours (four hours at the border crossing) to the southern most town in Argentina (but not in the world!) Ushuaia. It is amazing how much ego rolls over this issue... We had in mind to do a trek to Laguna Esmeralda which we did and we thought that we would get some more information about Puerto William, on the other side

Facing the Beagle channel and the mouth to the ocean
of the Beagle Channel but that was almost impossible. Why? Because Puerto Williams is the real southern most town in the world but it is Chilian and Argentina doesn't like it. Therefore there is nothing to do there - alegedly, and it costs a fortune to get there... Well, about this we could read in the books and in other blogs, but what we couldn't find info about, enough time in advance, was the ferry service that goes from Puerto Williams to Punta Arenas. Damn! We had to book the ticket at least two weeks in advance for this ferry which is ran by Austral Broom and goes to Punta Arenas only on Fridays. Thus, after a week in Ushuaia we went back on the same road that we came on, except that this time we headed to Punta Arenas and just as we stopped there we decided to continue to Puerto Natales. We don't know what we missed in Punta Arenas but my disappointment spoke volumes and poor Lizlazloz had to suffer me moaning for days. I just don't like to return on my steps, especially not on a boreing road... That says boreing if you cross Tierra del Fuego by bus. I guess that by car or bicycle (my preferred way) one can take much more joy from the flamingos and guanacos that are along the road, and perhaps even brave to pitch a tent somewhere in the tundra, but we were not accostommed for that and Liz would not do hitch-hiking so we took the bus. I still hoped to catch a collectivo from the border point of San Sebastian to Porvenir where I could take a three hours ferry to Punta Arenas but at least according to Ushuaia's taxi drivers there isn't any collectivo only special. Well, the gloom covers my face as I recall this not-so-old memory.

So to close this subject here is how I should have done it:
I had to aim to Punta Arenas to check for info there, with the hope that the Chilians will be more efficient and helpful in promoting Isla Navarino tourism. In the case that there isn't a last minute place on board I could then go to Torres del Paine, which is only three hours away by bus. That could give me enough time untill boarding the ferry. Then the crossing from Isla Navarino to
Laguna EsmeraldaLaguna EsmeraldaLaguna Esmeralda

Few seconds before the rain wet us to the bones
Ushuaia is either from Puerto Williams or Puerto Navarino, depends on the sea. Transportation is part of the service. Then from Ushuaia take the bus up across Tierra del Fuego to the north either Rio Gallegos if I want to go to El Calafate, Argentina or back to Punta Arenas if I want to continue on Chile, perhaps to take a Navimag boat trip to Puerto Montt as we did.

And some information:
There are two different ferry services for this line, one is Austral Broom that leaves Punta Arenas on Wednesdays and returns from Puerto Williams on Fridays - it costs as for January 2010 US $ 175 / 210 one way for seat or berth.
The other company is Victory Adventure Expeditions, not sure the days they operate their service but their prices were in January 2010 US $ 215 / 255 one way for seat or berth. Both companies have a webpage but the web is also the only way to contact them, unless I was really unlucky, therefore it is better to make a contact more than two weeks in advance.
The journey takes about 36 hours and as I heard it should be beautiful crossing through icebergs, but I am not sure about that.
From Puerto Williams to Ushuaia or the other way it is easier - Ushuaia boating operates a zodiac service that crosses the Beagle Channel in one hour and a half but it costs US $ 125 one way - crazy.

The Bright Side - Ushuaia - The begining of the end of the world:

For me getting to Ushuaia was firstly another chance to see my parents who were due to dock two days after we arrived thus we took the time to recover from the super long bus journey from Buenos. I cannot describe well how heart warming and exciting it was to hug each other in the buffer zone between the security booth and the port even though only for few minutes. I was thrilled. Now I could concentrate on the town that markets itself as the end of the world but its residents prefer to see it as the beginning of the world - good point. The first thing we did was stamping our passports with all the three available stamps at the tourist office. Then we searched for some tour operators to get
A shell at the end of the worldA shell at the end of the worldA shell at the end of the world

The depth of the purple shell margins gently into its pure white inner shell
ideas for what else is possible to do. As we didn't do any serious trek for long time and we came from the heat of Buenos Aires we thought that we should start easy and took a little canoe trip in Lago Roca that is in the Lapataia section of Ushuaia. We started with a trek along the coast that was beautiful and introductive to the sub-antarctic flora. Everything grows so slowly here because of the low temperture, but the colours are stunning. When the sun is out the pristine colours of nature appear like a divine vision that even the strong wind cannot keep me indoors. As I was told the sea here is not poluted and that provides also clear colours to all the shells, marine life and vegetation. On another day when I took a boat trip to the H island it was simply beautiful to watch colours that I have never seen before. The depth of the purple shell margins gently into its pure white inner shell; the saturation of the colour of the rocks play clear shadow as they fold; the tones of the rocks contrast beautifully the tones of the sea waters or of the green vegetation or yellow moss. On the way back to the shore the sky cleared off some clouds thus upon sunset it was overwelming to see Ushuaia sitting on the beach embraced by snow capped mountains. The next day we went up to Glacier Maritial and walked back to town via the river and by that got some more apetite for further treks - Torres del Paine here we come...

Additional photos below
Photos: 26, Displayed: 26


A horse A horse
A horse

In the end of the world
Stones in the end of the worldStones in the end of the world
Stones in the end of the world

Part of the coast walk

Sitting on the beach embraced by snow capped mountains

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