Ushuaia-"The end of the world"
Ushuaia is the southernmost town of Argentina, also known to be the southern tip of the World. That is why it is more popularly known as the End of the World. It is a beautiful town, very windy, extremely cold, nestled between snow capped mountains and the Beagle channel. It is a touristy town since this is the gateway to Antarctica. During peak time, i.e November to March, daily cruises depart from here to Antarctica and most trips take around 2 days. We went in mid April so the tourists had kind of waned away, making the place delightfully less crowded.
Tip: Since it is remotely located, remember - 'End of the World', everything here is very expensive. I would suggest booking a place with cooking facility and arranging for basic groceries to manage your own meals.
The moment you land in Ushuaia, you know this place is really special. The airstrip is right next to the Beagle channel and this is definitely one of the most enthralling flight landing in the world. Moments before actually landing, I felt like we were landing on water.
From the airport, we got a taxi to our stay for the next couple of days, Hostal El Arroyito. It is a nice property with friendly owners. We met few other travelers also. We were happy to find a kitchenette to cook our own meals and a washing machine to do our laundry. The rooms are nice, comfortable and centrally heated and the view from our window was splendid. The only downside is that this place is somewhat away from the town center. If you prefer to stay closer, there are plenty of hotels and hostels in the town as well.
Though it is a bit far, it is a walk down the slope, so we walked down to the town center, inquired at the tourist information center and booked a boat tour for sailing the Beagle channel for 3 pm. The tour operators have their kiosks right opposite the TIC, so you can just walk in and book your tickets there after looking at all available options. Also, you can get your passports stamped and
The trip was simply amazing. It is an almost 4 hours ride on a motor boat that takes you around various small islands that are colonies of some of the most exotic, rarest animals on this planet. We saw cormorants and sea lions. The boats also go to the penguin colonies but this was not the right season for this. We were blessed with a rare sighting, the indisputable highlight of the ride - the hunch back whale, spotted thrice. During the trip, we also got to see the light house at 'The end of the world'. The guide was very friendly and told us interesting stories from the region and from his sails through the years. We stopped at an island and hiked a little getting to know the very unique and rare types of species of plants that grow there. We thoroughly enjoyed the trip chilling with a choice of beverages and fresh green olives while listening to his anecdotes. The winds get chilly specially in the evening and the trip offers wonderful views of the mountains
A very rare plant that we saw at the island we stopped at during the sail, that looks like a rock covered with moss but is actually a plant that lives more than 1000 years. It is actually an offense to damage this particular vegetation in Argentina. The image on the right is of another one that is mostly disintegrated.
We were back at about 7 in the evening. Immediately, we headed to the super market to grab some supplies to make dinner. Back at the hostel, we cooked and shared our meal with another travelling couple who were staying at the same hostel. We instantly connected and decided to spend the next day together exploring Ushuaia.
Next day, early morning, we took a cab to the base of The Martial Glacier and started trekking from there. It is a moderately difficult, very beautiful snow trek. We were still climbing when the the weather started getting frisky, and withing no time, mother nature showered us with pure white, flaky, foamy snow. There are some natural phenomenon that fill you with joy beyond words. For us, this was our first snowfall together, making it all the more special. Withing minutes, all footprints were gone, and as far as we could see, there was a fresh layer of sparkling white. We decided to respect the weather and head back to the base. There is a cute little tea house at the bottom of the mountain. Though a bit pricey, it is nice to make a pit stop for tea and cakes.
Next, we hopped on to the shuttle bus to the Tierra Del Fuego National Park. Argentina's southernmost national park is vast, wild and absolutely beautiful, abundant with forests, snow-capped peaks, nascent lakes and vivid wildlife. The landscape is mesmerizing, almost magical. While hiking across the park, you will see the landscape change every few steps. Every turn reveals beautiful colors in the foliage. You can find all kinds of yellows, oranges, reds, greens and blues, just like an artist's palette. The park is huge and there is so much to explore, one could easily spend a few days wandering around its multiple trails that have so much to offer, although it gets very windy and very cold. Having very limited time at our disposal, we hiked for a few hours in the biting cold, until it started getting dark and we knew we had to get back to Ushuaia. Tierra Del Fuego definitely left us wanting for more.
FUN FACT: You can get your passports stamped at the tourist information center that says - "Fin Del Mundo" - End of the world, makes for a fun souvenir. Also, it is very popular to send postcards back home from "the end of the world". We did that, and our friends were totally enthralled.
We left Ushuaia early next morning totally fascinated by its natural treasures, with a beautiful sunrise greeting us from the window panes of our airplane. Now, this is something I totally love about early morning flights.