Friday, January 17, 2014

Ushuaia and its surroundings (December 2nd - 6th, 2013)

We realized that we would have a bit too much time in Punta Arenas till our flight to Santiago de Chile, so we decided to visit Argentina one more time. Thus, we took a bus to Ushuaia, the largest town on Tierra del Fuego.

December 2nd - long journey
It was a really long bus ride, taking us the whole day (unfortunately, there were no overnight buses between Punta Arenas and Ushuaia). Our bus departed two hours late. Because there aren't any bridges between continental South America and Isla Gran de Tierra del Fuego, the bus ride included a ferry trip over the Magellan Strait. This was a nice diversion in the middle of the long bus ride.

The ferry over Magellan Strait

We arrived at around 10 P.M., but as we were quite far south, it was still light. Later on we did some research and found out that Ushuaia is as far south as Vilnius is north.

December 3rd - Ushuaia
The next day, the weather was quite bad. We relaxed a bit at the hostel and searched for a place to exchange U.S. dollars to Argentinian pesos. Eventually, we managed to exchange at one jewellery shop. We also collected information needed to visit the Tierra del Fuego National Park and made plans for the upcoming days. Afterwards we visited a museum dedicated to the Yámana people. These people were amazing: instead of wearing clothes, they used to cover themselves in animal grease, and thus appeared completely naked to the first Europeans visiting the island.

December 4th - Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego
According to the weather prediction it should have been the best day to visit the Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego. Nonetheless, it was snowing. Our shoes already had quite a few holes in them due to heavy use in the previous seven months, so our feet got hopelessly wet. Laura was a bit cold, but we still enjoyed the nature around us. If I would subtract all the lakes and the sea, it would have reminded me of my home mountains - the Orlické mountains - in winter.

In the morning, the weather still looked quite OK

 The tracks for the end of the world train were very narrow

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

Lakes and mountains and bad weather

We managed to do quite a long hike, but at around 5 P.M., Laura had clearly had enough of her wet boots, so we took a van back to civilization. However, before turning towards Ushuaia, our van made a small detour to the end of the Pan-American Highway and we could take a picture of it. In a way, it symbolized the end of our trip.

Buenos Aires - 3079 Km, Alaska - 17848 Km

December 5th - Glaciar Martial hike
The weather was better than predicted, so we decided to go for another walk. Nobody at our hostel was capable of calling us a taxi to the bottom station of the chairlift, so we started walking in the correct direction, hoping to catch a cab on the street. Soon we were offered a ride by Yuriy (who was just driving by and is not a taxi driver). Yuriy moved to Argentina already before the collapse of the USSR and we had a nice chat with him. I realized that as my Spanish had improved, my Russian had got worse. Due to seven months of no Russian but rather intensive Spanish, these two languages somehow started mixing in my head. I was using Spanish verbs and conjugating them using Russian grammar, for example: viajaем. After saying good-bye to Yurij, we decided not to take chairlift and started hiking up on the piste. To our surprise, in already twenty minutes we were at the upper station enjoying the view back to Ushuaia.

Looking back

We continued a bit more through the deep snow to get to a viewpoint from where we could observe the local snowy mountains. However, because of our experience with wet shoes from the previous day, we decided not to continue to see the Martial glacier and rather just enjoyed seeing it from a distance.

Snowy mountains above Ushuaia

The way down was faster than expected, so already at around 3 P.M. we were back in town.

Dandelions in the snow

The second Škoda we saw during our trip - this one didn't have tires

In the evening the weather got even better. We had one last Argentinian dinner at a local restaurant. It was an all-you-can-eat Parilla and Chinese food, accompanied by delicious Argentinian wine.

Almost perfect weather towards the end of our stay

December 6th - Departure
Even though the weather was getting better, it was time to say good-bye to Ushuaia and take a long bus to Punta Arenas.

It was a long way there and back and the weather wasn't particularly favourable, but I still believe it was worth to go to Ushuaia. As usually, we have many more pictures and we also contributed to OpenStreetMap.

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