On our rather dull 11 hour bus ride to Ushuaia we had to cross over from the main land to the island Tierra del Fuego. This too would have been dull if it’s wasn’t for a visit from some Commerson Dolphins. These are the world’s smallest dolphins, at no bigger than 5ft, and weighing in at no more than 13 stone. They were super fast and propelled there whole bodies out of the water while they swam, they put on quite a show for us.
Ushuaia is commonly referred to as the End of the World (Fin del Mundo) as it is the southernmost city in the world. The city itself is quite cool, however super touristy and expensive due to the hordes of cruise goers making their final pit stop before sailing to Antarctica.
We had only been in Ushuaia for half an hour before we started to miss Toady, with no house on wheels or accommodation booking we ended up strolling from place to place looking for a bed. The best we could manage was a single bed in a tiny B&B on the outskirts of town- not good!
The next day we followed in Darwin’s footsteps once again and sailed the Beagle Channel, aptly named after the boat Darwin first explored it in. This extremely thin channel separates the southern tips of Chile and Argentina and is the sight of a number of conflicts between the two over the years. We boarded a catamaran and were instantly surrounded by the ‘cruisers’ or as we called them – the socks and sandals brigade. However, we soon made some friends and enjoyed a spot of Spanglish with them.
During our voyage we were treated to great views of Ushuaia and the surrounding mountains, we came across some sunbathing sealions, and sailed by another huge colony of Magellanic Penquins.
However as we had already seen our fair share of Magellanic Penguins we were more focussed on the lonely king penguin that seemed to have gotten himself lost. Elvis (The King) stood out on a beach that was otherwise solely black and white. He held his own against the other penguins who didn’t seem too enamoured by his appearance on their turf and were trying to pick fights.
Our final stop was at Tierra del Fuego’s first estancia (farm). Estancia Harberton was founded by Thomas Bridges, an Anglican Missionary who settled on the Island in 1887. The farm is still functioning now and gives a fantastic insight into how life would have been over 120 years ago in such harsh conditions (in the winter the farm receives only 4 hours of sunlight and up to 4 metres of snow). The current owner of the estancia is Thomas’s great grandson. He is married to a biologist which is a spot of good luck as the area receives large amounts of washed up carcases due to ocean currents. She has opened a research centre and more recently a museum which is a nice added extra to the estancia although the decomposing skeletons are pretty stinky.
After a short bus ride with some b.e.a.utiful views we were back in Ushuaia where we spent one more night before our flight to Buenos Aires, bring on the tango…