Exploring Tierra del Fuego...

Trip Start Oct 05, 2012
Trip End Apr 01, 2013

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Flag of Argentina  , Patagonia,
Sunday, January 20, 2013

With the post-Antarctic hangover looming strongly - especially after we heard the booming horn of the M/V Ushuaia mocking us as it once again set sail to Antarctica - the only thing left to do was to explore the best of what Ushuaia and surroundings had to offer. Luckily for those of us who had opted to spend a couple of extra days at the 'end of the world' the weather remained beautifully sunny.

First up was a visit to the Tierra del Fuego National Park located to the west of the town. The plan was devised during our rendezvous in the Dublin Irish pub the evening of our disembarkation, and unsurprisingly there was only half of us who actually met the following morning!! There followed some negotiations with a local taxi driver, who eventually agreed to squeeze 5 of us into his taxi and drive us around the main attractions of the park for a total of 3 hours. The illegal nature of this became apparent when 2 of us had to get out and walk through the park entrance, with 1 of us thereafter squashed in the boot to make more room in the back seats. The park is small though and the time we had gave us enough of a taster for Kara, Rob and I to decide that we didn't want to return to Ushuaia without exploring a little more.

Leaving the taxi with the other 2 in it, we started from the absolute end of the world - the end of Ruta 3 - and spent 6 hours making our way back to the park entrance. Along the way we passed beautiful green lakes, rivers, beaver dams and colonies and ended up on the costera path which took us along the coastline and through the adjacent forest. Parts of it could easily have been in Europe, especially either an alpine environment or the scottish coastline. Except for the much higher peaks which kept appearing in the background - far too dramatic for Scotland at least!! One bad thing - there were huge amounts of biting things which decided I was the tastiest of the 3 of us and who proceeded to nibble me for most of the way. I never thought I'd need repellent this far south, and even when I went to buy some the following day found it hard to get as it's so unusual in Ushuaia!!

We completely lost track of time and found ourselves at 8pm (still with sun though) having missed the last bus out of the park back to Ushuaia... I was then introduced to hitch hiking as we tried to find ourselves a lift. I proved useless and so opted for the speaking role when we managed to get someone to stop. We very luckily didn't have long to wait, getting first a short ride to the main park road and then a lift right to the centre of Ushuaia with a very kind local. He turned out to be the baker at the local supermarket and I went next day to buy some of his pastries in honour of his kindness!!

Dinner was once again at the Dublin pub, but it wasn't a late night as we were all exhausted after our first real exercise after leaving the ship. There were also more goodbyes at the end as the remaining cruise group got smaller and smaller...

The next day I had planned to have a very lazy day catching up on this, skyping family etc. This was all going to plan until the owners of my hostel mentioned that they were taking a group of people to the Laguna Esmerelda in the afternoon. This had been recommended by one of the officers on the ship who had grown up in Ushuaia, hence I decided to join them. We didn't leave until 3pm so plenty of time to do some of the other things I had planned to do, and also at a much cooler time of the day. The hike to the Laguna took us through forests, peat bogs, across rivers and waterfalls and past beaver dams. With the afternoon sun, the scenery was beautiful as all of this was set at the base of snow capped mountains.

When we finally got to the Laguna the colour didn't disappoint - it was as green as the pictures had promised. We continued on around the Laguna and ended up at the very back of it, directly below the mountains and where there was a large number of beaver dams. The hostel owners dog - Kreen - got very excited and it wasn't long before we spotted our first beaver. It just glided through the water, teasing the dog so much that eventually he jumped in. At this point, the beaver flipped its tail and disappeared. We'd all given up trying to keep dry by this point so joined the dog in wading across to the more central areas for a better view.

The return walk took us along the other side of the Laguna, and about half way along we stopped for a break. Most of the people on the trip were Argentinians so they took out their stoves and proceeded to brew up some mate. No hurry at all to get back, and we all just sat and relaxed as the sun disappeared behind the mountains. Such an advantage having such long days!! We then continued and found ourselves once again wading through the peat bogs and forests until we came back to the first beaver dams we had seen. There were more beavers here who proceeded to tease Kreen even more. Hilarious to watch!!

The day ended driving back into Ushuaia and seeing the sun going down over the Beagle Channel once again. I have to say, although a long way from anywhere and a place I doubt I'll be back in, I quite liked Ushuaia and am pleased that I made it as far as the 'end of the world'...
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Pigwig on

Laguna Esmerelda looks bootiful. You've always been tasty to wee critters, I remember Egypt ; )

curlsandtales on

I remember it too. Atleast here I got sympathy from my companions, rather than sniggering!! Xx

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