Mendoza was my first taste of Argentinian life and it agreed with me. I then decided to fly all the way down to the very bottom of the country and make my way back up through Patagonia. So I booked a flight to Ushuaia – called the ‘end of the world’ and got myself on a tour. I left 35 degree heat in Mendoza and that evening landed in 3 degree heat. Ouch!
Ushuaia is right on the edge of Argentina – and is a main port for people travelling to Antarctica, so is quite touristy. I checked the town out on Day 1 – and that took about 2 hours! I also visited the main museum which is housed in the prison. This was somewhat interesting, but with most of the explanations in Spanish and then very basic English, I didn’t learnt too much from that visit. They did however have a Penguin exhibition with the animals painted in different styles which I quite liked!
I met my new tour group that evening. I’m now with Tucan Travel and there are only 6 of us for this trip actually. Me, and 5 Aussies! A couple (Stuart & Emily – in their 40s), Toni (my roomie – in her 50s), Dorota – or Dot (60s) and Annalise (70s). All nice enough and I’m confident we’ll have a good time over the next few weeks as we are all of the same attitude towards travel which is the main thing! There’s also Will (our driver) and Jo (our guide) who are cool. The powers of Facebook meant that I found out Eimear was also in town at the end of her tour, so we met up that evening. We went to an Irish pub for ‘ a few drinks’ with some of our current tour group too, and before you knew it, we were in a club celebrating some local guy’s 23rd birthday! It was all quite a random evening, but thoroughly fun, and it’s not often you can say you went clubbing at the ‘end of the world’!!!
I got back to the hotel at 5, and crept in quietly to not wake Toni up! But the next morning they all knew of my ‘big night out’!!! But I’m learning about them all slowly, and I’m confident that there will be other late evenings with them as they all largely seem to like a drink!
It’s certainly a small world, when one of your tour group – from the other side of the world- happen to not just know your cousin, but also have photos of them on their iPad! That was quite bizarre, but amusing to happen!
The next day I had a message from Keryn who was meant to be on a cruise to Antarctica but sadly her boat had major engine issues so had been cancelled on Day 1 and never left the dock. I felt very sorry for her, however there was a silver lining – for me 🙂 Keryn has kindly lent me her warm wear. From a thermal top, some rainproof trousers and most importantly her jacket – an amazingly warm goose down puffa thing. It’s big and perfect and SO warm and I am eternally grateful as it’s going to make the next 2 weeks significantly easier to cope with!!
We took a boat out onto the Beagle Channel and saw some cormorates (like penguins, but they can fly), some penguins and some leopard seals, alongside some snowcapped mountains in the distance. Freshest seafood and fish you can expect for dinner (delicious) and then back to the hotel.
The next day took us to the National Park in ‘Tierra del Fuego’ where we did a 10k hike around the coastal lines. Really pretty and a good introduction to hiking in the cold! And then yesterday we started our journey up north. A 14 hour bus ride (including a few stops, a ferry crossing with mini dolphins and a border crossing into Chile) got us to Punta Arenas. It’s a fairly small city where we’ll visit a penguin colony and then make our way up to Puerto Natales – a city near to Torres Del Paine – a national park where we’ll be hiking and camping for three days. Wish me luck for dealing with the cold!!