The Land of Fire.

Trip Start Oct 06, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Sunday, April 10, 2005

So I am down here at the World's End. In the "Land of Fire" (Tierra del Fuego). I Ildlandet. In Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, where the Andes run from East to West and the water drain counter-clockwise (I must verify that one day). Here in the Argentine Patagonia, the wild and desolate land at the tip of the continent. Patagonia, the land of bleak and barren, windswept steppes and vast pampas, majestic fjords and tumbling glaciers, all mixed with unforgettable jagged mountains and sparkling deep blue or emerald green lakes. Patagonia, the land of sheep fences and guanacos, spectacular granite towers, remoteness and solitude, wild seas and Cape Horn. Patagonia, the land of the Beagle Channel and the Strait of Magellan, semi-arid plateaus, untouched virgin scenery, huge estancias, unpredictable weather, never ending gravel roads and tortuous rivers teaming with trout. Down here in Patagonia, the land of isolated and monotonous, expansive icefields, rugged coasts, awe-inspiring mountains and rough breathtaking beauty. Patagonia, wow, that got a special ring to it, doesn't it? Bet I am not the only one out there dreaming about coming down here. Patagonia, a magical place I just had to come see for myself.

It's April 10th here in Ushuaia, and light fluffy snow is falling outside. It's cold (unless you come from Norway, eh well) and the main tourist season is over. However there's still quite a few Argentine tourists and backpackers around. I find Ushuaia quite pleasant, it's not the most beautiful city, but it got a dramatic setting by the Beagle Channel, and majestic mountains form a spectacular backdrop. I meet up with Steve from the UK, who I travelled around Panama and Colmbia with, and Joey from the US. I have planned to meet them for a while, but unfortunately I'm a few days behind their schedule. So we only get to sample a few beers one evening, before they have to head north towards Chile, before flying home from Santiago. So, instead I meet friendly Dave from Brighton at the hostel. We spend a few nice days together in Ushuaia, visiting Tierra del Fuego National Park, where we hike around and of course take a picture of the "End of the Road" signpost. From here you can only go one way, and that's back up north. You have reached your goal, you can go home to Alaska now. In fact we met a Canadian couple in an old Van at the signpost, who have spent five months driving down here from Vancouver. Through the US, Mexico, the whole of Central America, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Boliva, Chile and Argentina. They came down the West coast, and plan to go back up the East. Not missing a single country on their trip through the Americas. Awesome!

I also go on a catamaran trip in the Beagle Channel, spotting seals, sea lions, albatross and lots of cormorants. Of course I couldn't leave Ushuaia without sailing around in the Beagle Channel. It was far from a Shackleton odyssey, but still a very nice trip, if somewhat touristy. Tomorrow I am heading north again, to Puerto Natalas in Chile. It will be 12 hours or so with Patagonian pampas, connecting in Punta Arenas, before reaching Puerto Natales, the gateway to Torres del Paine National Park. Say no more!
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