This is a story dedicated to YOU, dear travellers. It’s a story about the “naked truth”, cuddling penguins and other quirky travel bits from “the other side of the world”: Ushuaia, the southern-most city in the world. Check out why this destination is worth travelling to and why “Tierra del Fuego” (country of fire) has just about avoided being called “Tierra del Humo” (country of smoke).
Beaver pest & “flag trees”
It is what it is: Human nature is somewhat twisted. More than 100 years ago, settlers & armed soldiers came to Tierra del Fuego in a quest to make almost all native Yamanes go extinct while introducing beavers instead – for fur trade. These, however, have expanded ever since, roaming the countryside and causing great damage to the natural environment by building dams where they shouldn’t, taking down trees such as the following typical “flag trees” (bent like a flag by the wind).
The naked truth: About the life of the Yamanes
We learn a lot about the natives of Tierra del Fuego (whose only survivor, crazily enough, is one single 90-year-old lady living on a small island in the Beagle Canal!) during our three-hour hike through Tierra del Fuego National Park. If you are interested in the history, culture and nature of this area, it’s very worthwhile joining a tour with Canal Fun like we did. Or would you know that the staple diet of the former people were actually mussels as well as bittersweet forest berries? That they didn’t wear any clothes except for the odd bit of leopard seal leather (even during very cold winters ..)? However, always carried a fire, hence the name “Tierra del Fuego“? Our charming guide Flor tells us these and many other stories during our hike in the national park.
Hike as if there’s no tomorrow.
You have to do it. The panoramic views make up for every lost or hurt toe: The national park Tierra del Fuego is set to entice you, clearly. A wonderful day we’ve had!
… seriously? How did these birds “get here”? I would have rather thought them to be native to Europe, however here they are, happily hammering away at the wood of the forest while we watch them in silenced awe. They are right here in front of us: One of many magic moments during our time here.
WiFi is everywhere 😀
Thank God. I wasn’t expecting this! (Video) skype, data transfer, maintaining my travel blog: It’s all possible in no time, even twittering or instagramming from just about any small café / pub / hotel is free and available at the end of the world. The only thing I would probably have to look for is real broadband when wishing to upload my Tango-Dance-Video … 😀 . I guess you still have to wait for that!
Last Minute to Antarctica
It’s like a (secret) whisper, on the main road of Ushuaia and among travellers: Each day, Ushuaia announces last-minute tickets for Antarctica. For only $ 3.490,-! Tempted? If you have between six to 14 days, are able to remain on stand-by and have some cash stashed away, then why not join a cruise to Earth’s southernmost continent? “Unfortunately”, I am already on my way to Torres del Paine & El Calafate … so maybe next time? 😀 Blog trip, anyone?!
“Boat races” …
… are another great opportunity to explore the national park of Tierra del Fuego, including comments by our guides through the park and on the Beagle Canal.
Penguins “kiss”, cuddle, jump & squeal
Oh dear … How much I love these penguins. I simply fell head over heel with them. And would have given a lot to spend the entire day with them on Isla Pinguinera, or penguin island as it is called. They just look sooo sweet, no matter if they are big or small, fat or thin, hobbling or wobbling, screaming or kissing-pecking: The Magellan penguin colony near Ushuaia is a dream come true. Once in your life, make sure you get here. Seriously! And do not forget to bring your camera 😀
Dolphins beach in San Sebastián …
Just before we get back from our trip to see the penguins, we quickly visit the maritime museum including a guided tour by young biology students. They explain their work in genetic research and the classification of cetaceans such as dolphins who unfortunately beach a lot just north from here being trapped by the tide in a shallow bay. Bad for the dolphins, good for the research purposes of the students.
What’s with the weather?
Have you ever been to a region or city with the famous “four seasons in a day” ? While I write up my experience of Tierra del Fuego here, it is indeed pouring like made while just a few hours before, little hint of wind and even some sunshine have seen our hopes rising … Good weather simply means: Only light wind, just some clouds and the odd 20°C during summer. Go lucky!
Tipps by locals
… are what you ought to follow, everywhere, always. 😀 With this, I mean all the little things that make travelling much more pleasant and ending up being less of a tourist: Mixing with the locals in typcial, off-the-beaten-path bars, restaurants or pubs as well as getting tips for the real excursions: What is finally worthwhile? What is just a tourist trap? Don’t worry if your Spanish is not as good: Almost everybody here speaks perfect English, so you can organize your visit around this area easily. A toast to “World’s End”, then !
Underfloor heating, olé!
Last but not least: My cute little Chalet called “Posada Fueguina” (a local Tierra del Fuego Retreat), which does a good job of reminding me of the comfort of home, especially with regards to details such as wooden boards, flower cases in the windows as well as, well, the great underfloor heating (am I spoilt? It’s just so nice!). I shall recommend you stay here, plus the breakfast with a view of town is really good, too.
A special word of Thankyou goes to sustainable tourism operator ANDA Travel, who have really taken care of making my stay both memorable and as closely fitted to my expectations as possible, including supporting me in my research with a 20% discount. All opinions are my own.