Well here we are in Ushuaia - the end of the world. Keep going south and it's Antarctica. We would have loved to go there but it;s stratospheric expensive and we have to make choices.
This whole are is The Malvinas. To most of us that means The Falklands. It's clearly all a bit raw still here. Signs say 'The Malvinas lsles are Argentine, Have always been Argentine, and will be Argentine again' or ' The Malvinas illegally occupied by the UK since 1883'. We could debate all day about the rights and wrongs but suffice to say the people here have been very nice. Today I was asked 'where are you from?'. 'England' I nervously replied. ' Welcome to Argentina' was the reply. Ok so no need to pretend I'm an Aussie then.
Ok back to the place. Day 1. We spoke with Alba the lady who runs the B&B. We asked about the weather. Simple, she said. If it's nice, do it now because the weather can change suddenly. She is a mine of information and acts as a tourist information and booking office. This is all done over breakfast. It's 8am and she says what would you like to do today. Go to the glacier we said. Ok I sort for you.
15 minutes later and the taxi is there. It drives us to the chair lift. This is a big ski resort in the winter. Jill and I love to hike but neither of us could remember going on a chair lift before as we dont ski. So we paid the man and climbed aboard. It was about a half an hour ride. Fabulous views but oh was it cold.
We got off and had a hot bevvie. Then it was a 45 minute climb up a 45 degree slope to the glacier. Cold and windy but stunning scenery. The glacier itself is not very big but the view back down the valley to the Beagle channel was superb. Well worth the climb.
We went back down on the chair lift and a taxi back to the town.
Day 2. We went for breakfast and the sun was shining. Alba got on the phone and sorted a bus to the national park. 30 minutes later and it's outside. On we got and off we went.
At the park the bus driver asked which walk we were doing and then said where he would collect us. Off we went for a half day hike on the coastal route.
It was stunning. An expanse of sea surrounded by mountains. We were in and out of forest. The views were exceptional. Lunch was perched on a rock where we joined by a small hawk like bird. The pictures as always can not do it justice. The trees are changing colour as autumn arrives and it is beautiful. The weather was perfect.
Day 3. Breakfast. Alba said what would we like to do. We said we would like to do the boat trip and see penguins. No problem she said.
The morning was foggy. Alba said there had not been sea fog for 10 years. We boarded the catamaran and were told the port was closed. We had to wait about an hour but the fog lifted and we headed to sea.
The sea is rough and there is nothing quite like two huge turbine engines opening up and cutting through it. Half an hour and we are at a sea lion colony. Fab, they are huge.
Next it's off to see penguins. The boat gets close to shore and the penguins are waddling along in front of us. Some are in the sea diving. Amazing to watch. The camera is smoking.
All too soon we are heading back. Jill and I stood on deck at the bow. The wind cuts you in half and the boat bounced through the waves but it was exhilarating.
Ushuaia is at the end of the world and every inch of it feels that way. When you look at the houses they look as though nature beats them sensless most of the year. You wonder why people live here, but it is harsh and rugged but so beautiful.
This is our last night here and I'm in bed writing this so forgive any spelling errors. It's been a great 3 days in tierra del fuego. Tomorrow its a bus to Punta Arenas then on to Torres del Paine for more hiking.
Time for sleep......just a couple of quirks. The police in South America drive with their blue lights on all the time. Even when they park at the police station. After the incident in Belo Horizonte when a police officer burst into our restaurant tonight we put our hands up. Phew no panic. It seems someone had parked badly and he was about to tow them. Saturday night in Ushuaia......kicking. Night night. Oh before i forget you cant seem to get vegetables here. They live on red meat and pizza.