End of the Earth

Trip Start Mar 07, 2009
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Trip End Apr 08, 2010


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Flag of Argentina  , Patagonia,
Thursday, September 10, 2009

4th – 10th September 2009:

Got the bus from Puerto Madryn to a place called Rio Gallegos from where we would decide our next destination based on the onward bus times. The bus was a bit late but still got there in time for an onward bus to Ushuaia which was lucky because that was where we wanted to go. It wasn´t really on our list at the beginning of the trip because we were led to believe that travel in Patagonia would be impossible at this time of year. Luckily this was false so we were able to go to Ushuaia, in the Tierre Del Fuego National Park, and the most Southerly city on earth, it would be rude not to.

The second part of the trip was a nightmare. Chile extends across the bottom of the continent so we had to go through customs 4 times to get to Ushuaia, in Argentina still. Chile customs officials are also a bit harsh so when Ang neglected to declare a couple of bananas we thought we could be in bother. Ang asked the dude "Is that a problem", “Yes that´s a big problem, come with me”! Luckily it was only scare tactics and although he could have imposed a fat fine he let Ang re-write the declaration form and go through with a slap on the wrist.

We had to change buses a couple of times on the way, as well as tolerate a choppy ferry crossing as Tierre Del Fuego is on an island but the agro was worth it as the scenery turned from bland to amazing as we approached Ushuaia, jagged mountain peaks and lakes all around. Got there at about 9pm so it was dark but managed to find a double room in our price range within about half an hour. The room seemed to be a plywood shed tacked onto the side of a house but it did us and was surprisingly warm which was nice as it was naturally quite chilly now, though not as cold as we had imagined it would be. I was half expecting it to be about minus 20 with arctic winds but it was quite mild, frost on the ground but still mild.

Straight to bed as we had been on the road for 36 hours. Next morning woke up to get a proper look at the place, really beautiful. Could see snow capped mountains all around and the Beagle Channel could be seen from the hostel, gateway to Antarctica. Also me the cats, there was 3 of them swanning about the hostel. Scoped the city out in the morning, was a nice change to walk about in the snow and ice, and booked an afternoon boat cruise around the channel. The boat explored a few islands in the Beagle channel, saw some sealions and birds and stuff. Also went on a short hike but the real highlight was the views from the boat, you can`t get bored of seeing all those mountains. It was pretty cold as well, both Ang & I were wearing just about everything we owned but even that wasn´t enough when the wind picked up. Was a nice excursion though, Ang did`t even get sea sick this time!

More excitingly I seem to have fixed my camera. It failed on me when I tested it`s waterproof capabilities when snorkelling with sea lions before. It was not Up to it and I was devastated. I like having my camera in my pocket and the thought of 6 months without it annoyed me. Luckily I was able to fix it, at least temporarily by jamming a piece of tissue against a sensor in the battery compartment, technical I know but it has done the job so far, fingers crossed it will hold out.

Next day we intended to go to the national park but got up too late for the earliest bus at 9am so instead took a hike Up to the local ski resort to find a small glacier that is up there. We declined all offers of taxis and walked up to the ski lift in a creditable 2 hrs, we were told it would take 3. After a pit stop for hot chocolate we took the lift up then carried on trekking up the mountain. It emerged that we were not supposed to do this without a guide in Winter and we could see why as the snow was about 2 foot deep and hard going in places. In the end we had to turn around and head back to catch the last lift back but after looking at photos after I am convinced we were standing on it! Anyway never mind, the views were spectacular and well worth the hike, luckily it was a clear day as well.

Next day we did go to the national park, again we went alone instead of hiring a guide but this time it was more straight forward, the paths were clearly marked and though the weather was more British, wet and windy, it was still fantastic. It was more what we were expecting, bleak and harsh landscape with unrelenting winds and even some snow. I`m still shocked it`s not colder though, apparently in northern Canada it`s about minus 30 in winter time! Took the obligatory picture in front of the sign for the end of the southernmost highway on earth, and also got our passport stamp for southernmost city. We´re not normally list tickers but as we`re here!

Next day was a day off, no hiking. Was a bit annoying though because all internet in the town was out so had to book our bus tickets out at the last minute. Other than that watched a couple of movies in the hostel and got ready for an early start the next day, 5am bus for Calafate, to see this big glacier thing, quite famous apparently.
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