The End of the World

Location: Ushuaia, Argentina

Introduction:

Ushuaia is located near the southern tip of South America and it is the southern most city (“fin del mundo”…aka End of the World). It’s a cool place and we mean that both figuratively and literally. It’s almost summer down here but we had to go shopping and buy some warm clothes for the cold days and the fierce wind.

Ushuaia is a port city that sits on the Beagle Channel (named after Charles Darwin’s ship “H.M.S. Beagle”, which sailed down here in the early 1800’s) and serves as the launching point for expeditions to Antarctica.  That’s a place that’s too cold for us to venture to but nearby Martillo Island is home to a large colony of nesting Penguins and that was something we didn’t want to miss out on. There’s “un poco” English spoken down here and what’s confusing is that the locals like to say “Ciao” when you leave a place. The architecture is really unique using a mix of metal, wood and whatever else and it’s rare to find 2 buildings that look the same.

The barking dogs appear to have followed us from Peru but they’re a bit louder here and love to compete with each other to see who can bark the loudest and the longest.

We enjoyed sampling what Ushuaia had to offer and look forward to working our way back north to warmer weather.

Sites Visited:

Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego National Park, Martillo Island (Penguins), Beagle Channel and Cami Lake. There’s only one company (PIRATOUR) that provides tours where you can get off the boat and walk around Martillo Island where the Penguins nest. There were thousands of them representing 3 different species (Magellanic, Gentoo & King). We had no idea that these birds dig burrows underground to serve as their nest. They seemed fearless of humans, enabling us to observe them up close. We got to spend an hour with them and enjoyed every minute of it (even though we were freezing our butts off).
The dirt road from Ushuaia to the Tierra del Fuego National Park was a slow go and dusty. We came across a truck watering the road, which brought some temporary relief. Nevertheless, it was a pretty drive. A couple of the hiking trails that we were interested in were closed due to mud and snow. So, we hiked along a lake until we reached the Chilean border where the trail ended. We came across a few foxes in the park, one of which was looking for a handout.

Accommodations:

We spent our first night in Argentina at a Holiday Inn by Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires after a day of travel from Cusco, Peru. The hotel was fairly new and is probably the nicest Holiday Inn we’ve ever stayed in. It had an adequate fitness center and a very nice white tablecloth restaurant connected to it. They also provided a free airport shuttle making it a great choice for us.


In Ushuaia, we rented a lovely 2-story apartment for a week. This will likely be the coldest climate we’ll experience on our trip as we were surrounded by snow capped mountains and the highs some days were only getting into the upper 40’s. Fortunately, the apartment’s floors had radiant heat keeping us barefoot and warm. The kitchen had everything we needed except wine glasses. So, we bought a couple as we figure they’ll come in handy while we’re down here. There was one thing that took some getting used to and that was the constant barking of dogs in the neighborhood. It was a rare moment when they were all silent.

Food And Drink:

We’ve read that Argentineans eat more beef per capita than any other country but down here in Ushuaia, it’s all about the seafood. So, we indulged accordingly and ate out most nights enjoying King Crab, Ceviche, Hake, Salmon, Octopus and Sea Bass. We really appreciate that the chef’s did all the heavy lifting for us when we ordered King Crab so that we didn’t have to bother with the shells.


The wine is very reasonably priced and we’ve been sticking to Argentinean producers. We’re flying blind most of the time, as we don’t recognize many of the producers since we haven’t visited the wine regions yet. However, Elizabeth spotted a Barda Pinot Noir on the menu at Kaupe Restaurant that she’s previously enjoyed on the job with Allied Beverage Group and it tasted great and paired nicely with our fish dishes. We’ve also had some good success with La Linda wines and had both some Torrontes and Malbec at Kaur 1900 Restaurant with dinner one evening (in the daylight).

Transportation:

Argentina is a big country and the long distance transportation choices are to fly or take a bus as “one-way” car rentals are hard to come by. Flying within Argentina is expensive as the fares for foreigners are much higher than for locals. Fortunately, we scored a deal using Delta skymiles to fly on Aerolineas Argentina. We’d heard that flight schedules within Argentina were unreliable.We got a taste of that as we found out that our non-stop flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia was cancelled when we arrived at the airport. No worries, an earlier indirect flight was delayed 2 hours and we were rebooked on that one and arrived just a few hours later than originally scheduled.

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Rental cars returned to the original location are also expensive in Argentina. We booked an economy model from Avis and it’s about as basic as you can get. Our Chevrolet “Celta” had over 60,000 km on it; manual transmission, manual steering, hand-roll windows and a cracked windshield. Each door had to be individually opened and locked with a key from the outside only. Yet, this beauty served its purpose well.

They don’t need speed traps in town as there are speed bumps everywhere, even on dirt roads (of which there are many). And, they’re easy to miss if you’re not paying very close attention to the road signs.

Ushuaia’s street layout is bewildering as roads go in every which direction and many are one-ways but even one-ways may turn into two-ways confusing even Google maps. Some Argentinian drivers are pretty aggressive and this becomes especially perplexing as many street corners lack any signage at all making it somewhat of a free-for-all. This caused us to play defense most of the time. We only drove about 350 km during the week that we were here but we still had to wait in line for 45 minutes to buy gas before turning our car back in.

Shout Outs:

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We’d be lost without our “Simply Noise” App that helped to drown out the barking dogs. We often play it in stereo by firing it up on both of our iPads and placing one on each side of the room.

For Your Amusement:

We were getting 18 hours of daylight down here. Most restaurants are closed from 3 – 7 pm for Siesta. It felt weird finishing our dinner and leaving the restaurant at 10:30pm when it was still light out.  This picture from our apartment balcony was taken at 11:00 pm.
We’re confused. We thought Santa lives at the North Pole. What’s he doing down here at the South Pole?
We bought some potato chips without paying attention to the brand name. Are these translated to Crotch-Eat-O’s? Uh Oh!
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Highlights:  Martillo Island and the Penguins

Next Up: El Calafate in the Heart of Patagonia

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  1. By Mom

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