Monday, March 10, 2008
Ushuaia: The End of the World
Ushuaia bills itself as the southern most city of the world and the last stop before Antarctica. Well Chile is actually closer, but Ushuaia is the last real city before Antarctica. Most tour companies book their Antarctic cruises from this port city.
In fact, Ushuaia has become a very popular port of call for many cruises. Over 500,000 people came through the port last year and even more are expected in 2008. English outnumbered castellano 2 to 1 on the streets.
All of those cruisers steer the demographics on the street to the grey haired set. Don't let that stop you from coming though. Ushuaia is a must see on any Argentina adventure.
Ushuaia sits right on the Beagle Channel and is a former penal colony modeled after Sydney. Below is a mural depicting some of the most notorious criminals held there.
Ruta 40 runs out well before Tierra Del Fuego. Tierra Del Fuego is a large island cut off from the main land by the Straits of Magellan, so it is not easy to get to Ushuaia by car or bus. Given the cheap air fair between here and El Calafate or Buenos Aires, you are better off flying (even with Aerolineas Argentina's typical 4 hour delays.)
The port city is surrounded by mountains and there is some pretty good hiking. But, the best part is the wildlife in the Beagle Channel. Book yourself a boat cruise and tour the channel.
We were a bit boat toured out after Bariloche and El Calafate so we found the smallest boat tour we could find—a sailboat that only fit eight. We lucked out and my family was the only ones on the boat so we had a private tour of the channel and its wildlife. Below is a pic of our captain.
There is an abundance of marine birds and mammals in the Beagle Channel. Below is a pic I posted earlier of some Sea Lions along with some of the other marine life found on the islands in the Channel.