Ushuia

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IMG_5835Ushuaia, the end of the world as it is commonly known is the most southernly city in the world located at the very bottom of the South American continent. Expeditions for Antarctica set off from here, there is plenty of trekking and it is possible (in the right season) to visit colonies of thousands of penguins. The environment here can be very harsh with strong cold winds coming up from Antarctica, even in summer the surrounding mountains are covered in snow.

IMG_4389The weather outlook for my stay wasn’t very promising so I was only in town for two full days during which I explored the town, hiked up to Martial Glacier and spent a day walking in Tierra del Fuego National Park.

The Martial Glacier is directly behind the town and although the glacier itself isn’t that impressive the view from it is. From the top of the hike you can see down onto Ushuaia, the surrounding mountains and out to the Beagle Channel and onto Isla Navarino, Chile. The trail takes you from the bottom of the winter ski slope up into the mountain, the gravel then gives way to snow and the hike can be a little wet and slippery. Sections are fairly steep but after an hour or two you are at the top and you just can’t beat the view. Heading down can also be a little challenging until you get out of the snow and then if you decide to walk all the way back to town there are some nice trails through the bushland that you can follow rather than walk down the road.

IMG_4459To explore Tierra del Fuego national park you need at least a whole day, with two you could climb Cerro Guanaco. I just started from Ensenada Bay where I first walked the 3km Alta Plata trail which took about an hour and a half return up to the lookout. If you don’t have much time then you could probably give this one a miss as the views weren’t that impressive. I then followed the Coastal trail which follows the shoreline along Ensenada Bay. This was very nice walk, it is very easy and you get to see a number of different bird species. The view across the bay and onto the surrounding snowcapped mountains in both Argentaina and Chile is stunning. Apart from the birds I also saw two foxes at the end of the trail that both just casually strolled past me.

The following morning I was on the early bus (5am) to Punta Araenas in Chile. The bus ride was suppose to take around 12 hours as it included a border crossing and gravel roads however it turned out to be much much longer. Not long after lunch we made it to the Straight of Magellan which separates Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego and the South American mainland, here there is no bridge but a ferry to take you across however due to the 100km per hour winds the ferry was not running. After six hours of waiting we were finally able to make the short crossing and then it was another few hours to Punta Araenas. Originally I planned to visit a penguin and sea lion colney the next morning but due to our late arrival this wasn’t possible and I headed straight onto Puerto Natales to get ready to start the W trek in Torres del Paine National Park.

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