Day 121: December 13, 2007 Ushuaia: Lago Fagnano

Trip Start Aug 15, 2007
Trip End Mar 01, 2008

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Day 121: December 13, 2007 Ushuaia: Lago Fagnano Trip

The downside of eating shellfish is that if you get a bad one, it makes you really sick. Shirl got a bad one. She got up at around 3:00 and made numerous trips to the bathroom until about 6:30. Figuring that she must be just about cleaned out, I got up and gave her some Reliverán, the medicine I bought for Elena in San Juan. Within an hour, she was fine but not really wanting to venture too far from the hotel. Such a shame: it was a crystal clear, sunny day, with a beautiful blue sky.

Martín, the Localiza guy, brought the car up at 9:30. We checked it over. Elena, Elise, and I loaded up and bid good-bye to Shirl, who we left in the care of the hotel owners. We drove out of town past the peat mine in the Río Olívia Valley. The Valle Carabajal was spectacular with its angular, snow-covered peaks. The sky was the clearest I have ever seen it from the Paso Garibaldi overlooking Lago Escondido and Lago Fagnano in the distance. Lago Fagnano is situated in a pull-apart basin on the tectonic plate boundary between the Scotia Plate, on the South, and the South American Plate, to the north.

We continued north to the Hostería Kaiken, on the southeastern corner of Lago Fagnano. I had stayed there for a night in 1998 but it was pretty rundown with not very good service. I ate there again in 2002 but the food was so-so. I was delighted to see that the whole place is under new ownership and has been completely remodeled. The rooms are really nice and the food was very good. The young staff was friendly and very attentive. Did I mention that the hostería is situated in one of the prettiest spots on Earth? There is a long view down the pristine, deep blue lake to the west into Chile, surrounded by snow-capped peaks. After lunch we walked the short trail along the cliff edge to a pretty viewpoint. It would be a tough choice if I had to choose between the Hostería Kaiken, the Hostería Petrel, on Lago Escondido, or the Hostería Yehuin, on Lago Yehuin. All three are very nice and are situated in stunningly beautiful places.

I let Elise drive the 25 km back to Lago Escondido so she could say she had driven on Tierra del Fuego and in Argentina. I managed to take a catnap and awoke full of energy. On the way up, we had spotted a dirt road I had never noticed before heading west from the north shore of Lago Escondido. It went 22 km to Bahía Palacios, which I hoped was on Lago Fagnano, fairly close to the Chilean border. It isn't on any of my maps. It did take us to Lago Fagnano. My guess is that we were probably very close to the boundary of Tierra del Fuego National Park. There is apparently a resort-like place called 54° Sur just beyond the road's end but we didn't get a glimpse of it. A couple of fishermen were casting from the lakeshore.

We spent some time skipping stones on the lakeshore before heading back. A 4 km spur road took us to Lago Margarita, a pretty little north-south oriented lake that had even better skipping stones. We took the good road back through the virgin beech (ñire) forest back to the highway and headed south to Ushuaia. It was so clear over the Beagle Channel that we decided to take the road that goes eastward along the channel to the mouth of Ushuaia Bay. The area appears to be a public park. Like many public places in Argentina, it is completely trashed. The stunning natural beauty competes with empty and broken beer bottles, paper, plastic, etc. We watched one jerk dump the trash from his car on the ground at the nicest westward-looking viewpoint. It's like being back in North Carolina!

We returned to the hotel at about 6:45. Shirl was feeling great. Elena set up the video camera and we watched everything she had recorded since El Calafate. She got some great footage. We drove into town and ate at a restaurant on the waterfront called Tía Elvira. I had eaten there at least twice before. We had steaks that actually rivaled those of the Vista de Cóndor in Salta-an extremely high compliment. It was still pretty light out as we walked back to the car. We were all kind of beat so we returned to the hotel early, at 11:30, and turned in.
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