Tierra del Fuego

Trip Start Jan 18, 2005
Trip End Jul 05, 2005

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Saturday, April 2, 2005

Tierra del Fuego--the Land of Fire--so named for the natives' fires all along the coast here back when the European ships sailed by--is wonderfully rugged and windswept...and cold! Brent and I flew down to Ushuaia (from El Calafate, near-ish to Moreno Glacier), the southernmost city in the world. (The Chileans like to point out that they have a tiny community, Puerto Williams, just across the water, even further south, which is true--but it's mainly a military outpost and both sides make it bloody expensive to cross between the two, amounting to piracy, really.) Ushuaia is a pretty interesting small city at the bottom of the world, full of excellent chocolate, yachties who pull in before or after going around Cape Horn, and well-heeled tourists transiting to and from Antarctic cruises. This is where you come to hopefully score a discounted berth to Antarctica, hoping for a last-minute cancellation, but I was at the very end of the season and had no such luck.

Still, Tierra del Fuego is in the same political region as the Antarctic territories both Chile and Argentina claim (basically ignoring the treaty they signed yonks ago that states that the Southern Continent belongs to ALL signatory nations--including the US, the UK, Canada, China, Japan, Norway, Russia, and many more--and yet is OWNED by no country), there are post-Antarctic tourists spinning tales all over, ships in port leave regularly for there as well as South Georgia, Ushuaia's museums* are full of Antarctic displays, bookshops stock field guides to Antarctic wildlife and South Pole explorers' accounts... I have caught the ANTARCTICA BUG and will definitely go there someday soon(ish)! I heard from two Dutch that a young Canadian was onboard their ship, the cruise being a gift from his parents, and was so life-altered, he walked right into an agency as soon as the boat got back to Ushuaia and booked another leaving the next day!

*Side Note: What a shocker it was to find that Ushuaia's museum stock free brochures on the displays in several languages including BASQUE & CATALAN! I rarely meet people from Spain travelling far, but I guess they go to Tierra del Fuego!

Okay, besides the town of Ushuaia, I also had a nice walk in Tierra del Fuego National Park. Like Patagonia, it's a place I definitely want to go back to and explore more and better.
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