Punta Arenas & Ushuaia, Patagonia. Tierra Del Fuego

The journey down here was the least scenic of all our bus journeys. The road was “Ruta del Fin del Mundo” the “route to the end of the world”. It looks like someone forgot to put scenery in as it was nearing the end!

We expected Punta Arenas to be quite a small town, but it was huge!

We’d only stopped off here to hopefully see the King Penguins, which are the second largest in the world, the Emperor being the largest. There is a colony that lives here year round but it depends on the time of year as to how many are there.

We called into a travel agency to get a price, as it’s not possible to go on your own. It’s was ยฃ140. I wouldn’t have minded paying it but it was an all day trip, on a coach, with half an hour at the penguin site and the rest of the time travelling and visiting historical buildings! Not for us I’m afraid. The girl at the agency showed us a photo of when she went 3 weeks ago. There was maybe 10 penguins there. She really didn’t sell it to us. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿง.

Change of plan then. It’s tax free shopping here and my shoes are dropping to bits. After our visit to Ushuaia we won’t be doing much trekking so we need to smarten ourselves up a bit! Haha.

We felt like vagrants. Our clothes have seen better days as we have worn them out and they’re getting too big ๐Ÿ˜. I got “dressed up” to go shopping haha, didn’t dare wear my walking shoes so put my green walking sandals on with a pair of purple socks underneath ๐Ÿ˜ฎ. So glamorous. …not!! I wouldn’t be seen out like this at home ๐Ÿ˜‚

The shopping trip went well. New shoes, a pair of jeans for both of us and some socks! Wow. I can throw my other socks away now. I burnt them, drying them on a wood burning stove๐Ÿ˜ฏ in another hostel. I got myself a right pair of Bobby dazzlers ๐Ÿ˜‰.

This shared apartment isn’t bad at all. We’ve got loads of space, the WiFi is good and there is only 3 bedrooms, so not many to share it with.

We took a walk down to the waterfront..The Magallanes Strait. This was discovered by Ferdinand Magallan. It is a stretch of water that joins the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean.

The Spanish Crown needed, quite desperately, to find a path to the Indies through the West. After many failed expeditions, Magallanes presented a project, which was accepted and financed by King Charles I. Magallanes and his crew set sail in 1519, and discovered the path to the Pacific Ocean in 1520, which he named “Strait of All Saints”, but would later be known as Strait .

The clouds were so moody, and as the sun was setting they kept changing. We could stare at the cloud formations for hours. We both love them.

The tourist information office was on the sea front. It had some great street art painted on it.

The apartment block below is covered in street art…can you make out which is the real person and which is painted? The window with the cat is painted and an extra door has been painted. So clever

Sat on a dilapidated pier were hundreds of Imperial Cormorants. The look like penguins from a distance.

When we got back to the apartment we had new guests, that we got chatting to. Victoria had just come from Ushuaia and had told us about a 10 day cruise she’d done from there to Antarctica. Now that is on our bucket list! She’d seen loads of whales, including Orcas, Minkies and Humpback. Kev had researched these cruises before we came and had found them to be extortionate prices….as in ยฃ10,000!! Now Victoria was telling us they were doing last minute deals……do we change our plans? We’ve booked flights out of Ushuaia. These may be cancelled ๐Ÿค”.

We had a 12 hour bus journey to reach Ushuaia. After 2.5 hours we had to board a transport ferry to reach Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire). The wind was fierce but the sun was out so we decided to stand on the top deck and look for marine life

There were only 6 of us that braved the cold, the rest sat indoors. They missed out!. We had dolphins following the boat, jumping high out of the water. It was brilliant to see them but they were that fast I didn’t manage to get a photo. ๐Ÿ˜•

As with all border crossings you’re not allowed to take meat, fruit, vegetables or dairy products into another country. As we were on the bus for a long time we had to plan our meals. Dry crackers, dry bread, peanuts and raisins…wow. what a feast!๐Ÿ˜‚

As we got near the border there was a french girl on the adjacent seat eating an apple. She obviously realised she needed to get rid of forbidden foods. Next we saw her peeling a whole cucumber with a knife and shovelling it in as fast as she could! I didn’t like to tell her friend, that was doing the same thing with a packet of biscuits, that she could take them over the border ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿท.

We reached Ushuaia around 7pm and had a half hour walk to our airbnb. The bay was surrounded by mountains, there were glaciers at the end of our street, mountains in every direction. Wow. What a setting.

We went off to see what “The end of the World” had to offer. We have a feeling of jubilation reaching this town. A few people told us along the way, that it wasn’t possible to get here, due to transportation. We met people that actually changed their plans because of what they’d been told, and gave up on the idea of reaching here. Well we did it! I never ever imagined we would get here. Proud is an uderstatement. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Anyway, we headed to the local supermarket and got a ready made chicken salad in a tub, 2 carrots and some sliced cheese for lunch. We didn’t have a knife so couldn’t peel or chop the carrots so we ate them, unwashed, whilst walking around the Malvinas (Falklands) War Memorial site. It’s the 36th anniversary on 2nd April so they’ve created around night place to remember their soldiers.

We saw a bench looking out over the water so went to sit, have a coffee from our flask (getting old now lol) and eat our lunch. The boats were in the harbour, some ready for day trips, others ready to take people to Antarctica on and 10 day cruise.

The Argentinian naval base was also on the front and they had their huge war ship and and some smaller boats, all equipped with weapons, ready to go to war.

What we had forgotten when buying a tub of salad, that had chopped chicken, egg, tomatoes, corn and peas, was that we had nothing to eat it with! ๐Ÿค” Being the type of people we are, that just gets on with things and don’t care what people think, we ate it with our fingers! ๐Ÿ˜‚ haha sometimes we got a slice of cheese and filled it with salad. It’s the first time I’ve eaten chopped salad with my fingers ๐Ÿ˜ฏ.

Kev poured himself a coffee and I got up to put the plastic tubs in the bin. The next thing, Kev drops to the floor and his coffee goes flying everywhere. The seat wasn’t balanced properly and hadn’t been nailed down. I was howling with laughter….Kev on the other hand wasn’t impressed ๐Ÿ˜•๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚.

We walked around the bay to the harbour to see Ushuaia from the other side. There was an old boat that someone had done some graffiti on. It looked great.

You could see the old houses in the hills where the original settlers lived, and some still do. They look run down and very small.

Some of the houses in the town are really nice. Others look like something from a prison camp! You can tell the difference with Chilean and Argentinian houses.

Kev really wanted to do a cruise to Antarctica. We decided that if we couldn’t get a good deal we’d just do and get boat trip around the Beagle Channel. After what Victoria had told us we went to 5 different agencies trying to get and get good deal. 4 were fully booked and one wanted $6000 per person! Boat trip it was then. Haha.

The Beagle channel was named after HMS Beagle what Charles Darwin sailed on in 1826. Below is an early picture of the boat.

I wasn’t particularly bothered about seeing seal or sealions again as we’ve already seen them on this trip, and loads of cormorants. Kev was keen to see the lighthouse though. 6 of us went off in a small boat out into the Beagle Channel. I’m so glad we went..the scenery was spectacular and I’ve never seen seals against a background of snow capped mountains.

From here we went to trek onto a small island where many years ago the early Yaghan people lived.
They were famed for their complete indifference to the bitter weather around Cape Horn. Although they had fire and small domed shelters, they routinely went about completely naked in the frigid cold and biting wind of Tierra del Fuego. Women swam in its 48 degree south waters hunting for shellfish. They often were observed to sleep in the open, completely unsheltered and unclothed, while Europeans shivered under blankets. A Chilean researcher claimed their average body temperature was warmer than a European’s by at least one degree.

We scrambled up rocks and hills to the highest point around to get a good view of Ushuaia, whilst our little boat sat nestled in the bay below.

We headed back to the boat and the captain had prepared a snack for us ๐Ÿ˜€. A real treat. Cheese, salami, olives, nuts, crisps, crackers and local artesan beer! Nice.

We sat chatting with our fellow passengers, whilst enjoying the snacks whilst the waves gently rocked the boat and the clouds were giving giving us a moody sky.

Day 2 we decided to go to Glacier Martial, which was 7km out of town. We were advised to take a taxi as when you get dropped off there is as 90 minute hike. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Kev thought there was a ski lift there that takes you to the top, so we walked the 7km uphill trek to the base of the glacier. The sun was out, it was only 12 degrees but we were hot. The views were good and we are a lot fitter than were used to be 9 weeks ago. We said “Hola” (hi) to a passing dog….big mistake ๐Ÿ˜‰.

Taxis were driving past us but we plodded on. We reached the ski lift but it had been closed for 5 years! Do we turn around and go back? No! We sat in the tourist information I and poured a coffee from our flask. Feeling refreshed we hiked up the ski slope to the glacier! The water and town below were getting further and further away.

We’d seen the glacier from a distance yesterday whilst on the boat trip but never thought we’d hike to it.

As we got to the base, I was shattered and my knees and legs were aching. I sat on a bench and watched Kev climb the rest of the way. He was slipping on the narrow pathways on the edge of the mountain. He’s fit for his age (59) ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ’ช. He reached the furthest point before you needed to be a professional mountain climber.

Video of him below

We took another path so we could see the Beagle channel and the glacier within 360 degrees. The water was blue and looked warm with the sun shining on it. Me on the other hand was sh*tting myself on the edge of a narrow paths with a shear drop below. My hands were so cold, they were painful. Kev, being the gentleman he always is, was rubbing my hands and blowing on them so I could get some feeling in them. The wind was icy โ„.

We walked back down the ski slope and shared a taxi back to our airbnb with a couple who are staying there too. Carlos and Adela also decided to do the glacier today. ๐Ÿ˜€

Neither of us could have done this 9 weeks ago. We’ve done and seen so much more than we ever thought we would or could. ๐Ÿค—

The following day we didn’t hike, we we both needed to rest our legs. Instead we went to the prison, which which is now a museum. We still walked 7 miles though.

We’d made a healthy packed lunch and by 12pm Kev was starving! It was sunny but cold and windy, so he wanted somewhere sheltered to eat it. We found a shelter….and bus shelter ๐Ÿ˜‚. He said “If a bus comes just look away”

The old prison was quite interesting, the cells were small and had no heating. I got hungry walking round. It’s the first time I’ve had lunch in a prison haha. I just ate it quickly so no one could see me. The prison had been painted for when it became a museum.

This was how it looked when the prisoners were there.

Above is the toilet. The prison closed in 1974.

We walked around the seafront and it was adorned with different birds. The black and white ones below (can’t remember their name) stay together for life. When the male dies the female will go find another partner. If the female dies the male starves himself so he dies and can join her again. ๐Ÿ˜‰

The bird below is huge!! It’s a Southern Giant Petrel. It has a wing span of 2 metres ๐Ÿ˜ฒ. It was in the water when we did the boat trip. A baby cormorant had gone in the water to take it’s first swim and a group of them just ripped it to bits. Poor little thing but I guess that’s nature.

On our walk home we passed 2 dogs, just laid on the pavement. I’m sure they’re Sharpei’s. It’s surprising what dogs they let roam the streets.

On our last day in Ushuaia we went to Tierra Del Fuego National Park. It would be our last chance to see the mountains in Southern Patagonia. Kev said he’d chosen a few easy trails for us to do, after all the walking we’ve done lately. I was so pleased. “My legs and knees are aching with with the amount we’ve walked” I told him. “Yeah mine too” he said. “It makes my back ache too” I replied. “Mine does also” he said. “Oh shut up, whatever I’ve got, so have you” I joked. He’s so bloody quick…he quips “I haven’t got a fat belly!” ๐Ÿ˜ฒ๐Ÿ˜‚

The minibus that went to the park worked out at ยฃ40 return, for a 12km journey. There were no public buses that went. If we had to pay it we would but first we thought we’d try our thumbs ๐Ÿ–’. It worked! A lady stopped and said she was going close to the park, if that was OK. Of course it was so in we got. She spoke really good English so we chatted away happily. She offered to take us to the park entrance. “No its OK, we like walking, we don’t want you to go out of your way” Kev pipes up! I jumped in quick and said “that would be great, thank you so much” ๐Ÿ˜‰.

She dropped us at the entrance and we got a quick photo before going to pay the entrance fee.

The lady in the office must have noticed us getting out of a random car. “You know you can get a bus here don’t you?” “Yes, but they’re very expensive” we told her. ๐Ÿ˜‚ we just love getting free rides. That was ride number 20. Haha.

We had a 2 mile walk before we got to the start of the trail we were going to do. As we walked towards our destination we could hear “The end of the World Train”. It only runs twice a day so we were lucky to see it. It’s the only train we’ve seen on this trip. They don’t seem to have trains here. Lonely Planet advised that its “expensive and not worth the money”. At ยฃ16 for a 10 minute journey, we were happy with a photo of it.

Our trail started in Ensenada. Here was the last post office, at the end of the world. We got our passport stamped here before heading off.

Fin del Mundo (End of the World)

The trail was set on a path at the side of the Beagle Channel, that would take us through and enchanted forest that opened up into a scenic bays.

Mountains could be seen at every viewpoint.

We reached one bay and it was so quiet. All we could hear was a seal coming to the surface to catch it’s breath and and giant Woodpecker in the background, pecking away.

Then the silence was broken by the rumble of Kev’s stomach…it was literally that quiet that you could hear it. ๐Ÿ˜‚. We needed a more scenic lunch spot than yesterday, that’s for sure. I think this ticked all the boxes.

We reached a point in the forest that said “4km”. Great, we’re nearly there, I thought. I got a spring in my step knowing we didn’t have long to go before we got to the visitors centre. I laughed to myself thinking ‘knowing our luck we’ll be halfway, and I’ll be writing in the blog later that we had another 4km to go‘ ๐Ÿค”. Turns out I was right!! He’d been reading about a different trail ๐Ÿ˜ฎ. This was 8km and would take 3 to 4 hours! Oops.

Knowing this we decided to stop for a hot chocolate and to rest our legs. We couldn’t have picked a better place. The rocks were different shades of green with yellow moss on some of them, surrounded by mountains, water, birds and wild flowers. Stunning. Shame the hot chocolate was too sweet to drink. ๐Ÿ˜ฃ

We’d been walking a while and I was desperate for the loo. “We’ll call at the visitors centre, we shouldn’t be long now” he says. An hour later we emerged out of the forest. The visitors centre wasn’t there! That was further on, but he wanted to get to the “end of the road”. This is literally where the end of Ruta 3 ends. Next stop the Falkland Islands. Now I knew this was 3km further on and couldn’t wait. “You see that building over there, well it’s a cafe with toilets and everything” he informs me. Phew ๐Ÿ˜.

So this cafe turns out to be a police station! ๐Ÿ˜‚

On we walked. There was a pathway that joins up with the road towards the end of Ruta 3. “Let’s go this way, it’s a shortcut and more scenic” he advises. It had bushes, and being desperate for the loo, it was a good option ๐Ÿ˜ฏ. It was quite scenic, we sat and ate a banana before scrambling up and down the terrain on our shortcut.

Bet you can tell where this is going? ๐Ÿ˜‚. It wasn’t a shortcut at all, it was a looped trail. We ended up back where we started! ๐Ÿ™

Back on the road we just plodded on until we reached the end. To say my knees were aching was a massive understatement. Our last destination on this trip will be Buenos Aires, a mere 3079km from here!

The bus back to town would pick us up here. Not sure how long we’d have to wait I saw a car leaving the car park and stuck my thumb out. Haha Haha Haha I can’t believe how lucky we are, it stopped! ๐Ÿ˜Š Not only did it take us back to town, they dropped us outside our Airbnb. ยฃ40 saved and we didn’t have to hike back up the hill from the bus stop ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜Ž.

Today we fly to Trelew in Northern Patagonia.

3 thoughts on “Punta Arenas & Ushuaia, Patagonia. Tierra Del Fuego

  1. another great read guys.
    This adventure is not over and I see youโ€™re already planning the next!!!!๐Ÿ˜‰
    I donโ€™t was you to rush… but I canโ€™t wait.
    Fantastic pictures as always
    Stay safe xxxx

    Like

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