Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego Province, Argentina
Greetings from Patagonia!
It’s been a few weeks since I posted, so let me catch everyone up with what we’ve been doing.
After leaving Mendoza, Argentina, Emil and I headed to the city of Cordoba in central Argentina. We spent a week at the house of family friend’s of the Tjonneland’s. They graciously hosted Emil and myself for New Years and we had a very relaxing time. Cordoba is a mid sized city, manageable to get around, and also has easy access to the central Argentinian sierras, and several beautiful lakes within a hours drive of the city. We were still pretty wiped from Aconcagua when we got to Cordoba, but I very much enjoyed my time there and the time we spent with our wonderful hosts!
After Cordoba, we took the overnight bus to Buenos Aires. This was the nicest bus ride of the trip. A fully reclining bed, pretty awesome!
In Buenos Aires we met up with Emil’s parents. It was great to see them and spend some time with them, but also hard to believe it had been 4 months since Emil had last seen his parents!
In Buenos Aires we also added another member to our travel group. Peter, whom we met volunteering in Peru has joined us for the rest of the trip- in Patagonia until the end of February. Peter is from the Bay Area and will be starting at Colby College this fall. Him joining us for Patagonia sort of started as a joke last fall, but quickly turned into a serious idea, and wow, three months later and we are all in Patagonia together.
I really enjoyed Buenos Aires but I’ll be honest I was focused on getting packed and ready to get down to Ushuaia. The guys and I had a few very lengthy walks through the city, giving us a great overview of what the city is like. Very much like Europe, narrow pedestrian streets, wide boulevards, beautiful architecture and great food. There was also some incredible street art. One of the most interesting sights we saw was the cemetery in the middle of the city. It was nearly a small town of tombstones. Much of Argentina’s elite is buried in this famous cemetery. Buenos Aires is a beautiful city and I was glad we went for a few days. A huge shoutout and thank you to Emil’s parents for treating us :)).
Another fabulous few days in the city, but I’ve been waiting to go to Patagonia for who knows how long. It was time for another adventure of a lifetime…
Boats near the harbor in Ushuaia
And so here we are, in the southern most populated city on the planet. 60,000 people live here which is somewhat crazy, we’re so far from everything else! Just look up on google maps where Ushuaia is. The “end of the world” as described in tourism ads, this place really does feel like the end. Ushuaia is on the island of Tierra Del Fuego. Translated to the “land of fire,” this area gets its name from European explorers seeing natives having huge fires all over the island. This area is an archipelago of multiple islands, unevenly divided between Argentina and Chile. The spirit of adventure is very much alive here, but of course, it’s hard to get to the remote places. The history in this area is incredibly rich. Natives have been in the area for tens of thousands of years, living off the land with some of the worst weather on the planet. Magellan sailed the area in the 1500’s, Captain Fitz Roy and Charles Darwin visited the area in the 1800s and now have several landmarks named after them. The Beagle channel is named after the HMS Beagle, there is also the Darwin Island, Mount Darwin, and Mount Fitz Roy up north. The Darwin mountain range is one of the most remote and raw ranges on the planet. It’s only accessible by boat or a very lengthy approach and only a number of mountains in the range have ever been attempted, let alone climbed. It’s amazing to be around so much history. It’s very interesting and utterly powerful.
It’s a little windy down here in Patagonia.
Ushuaia is the gateway to Antartica. One of the cruise ships ready to leave port.
When I was researching Ushuaia online it didn’t seem like there was a whole lot to do down here. But wow, there is so much to do down here, much of it lays outside the national park.
For our first trip out in the field in Patagonia, we choose to do something outside of the Tierra del Fuego National Park. We choose to go out of the park for a few reasons: free camping, less people, fishing access, and possible access to a glacier. Great reasons to be outside of the park. After some time spent staring at google maps satellite and some googling about the destination we decided on a place called Laguna de Témpanos. Just a 20 min drive from town! This hike is an easy day hike with access to a glacier. A perfect opportunity to get Peter on a rope team before some of our climbing opportunities in El Chalten.
And so, on Friday morning we took a $15 cab ride to the trailhead.
The view from the trail head. Unbelievably beautiful. Truly the end of the world.
Another added bonus of this area was that we could go fishing. Honestly I don’t think I’ve ever fished on a more stunning river.
Emil caught a few small trout but I caught null. Couldn’t complain with a view like this however.
And just to add to this already magical place…wild horses grazing by the river
Onwards and upwards to the glacier!
The hike was about 2.5 hours up the forest on a steep trail. The altitude was no problem here at 2,000 feet. Hard to believe I was 20,000 feet higher just a few weeks ago!
Glacial flow on the way up.
Made it to the lake! Perfect campsite with an incredible view.
The plan was to stay up there for two nights, with a full day of practicing on the glacier. The weather didn’t cooperate completely, but we managed to get a few good hours of weather while we were on the glacier.
Emil and Peter approaching the glacier. A small ice cave formed at the toe of the glacier.
Peter practicing ascending the rope. Emil spent a couple hours with Peter teaching him how to rappel and ascend.
Doesn’t get much better than this…the Beagle channel is in view in the background
Cruise ship visible from up on the glacier.
We didn’t really have a specific goal in mind on the glacier. It was just to get out there, enjoy the spectacular views, and far some practice in. We accomplished those goals.
Looking north in Tierra del Fuego
Overall the short trip went well. We weren’t expecting to use the rope down here so getting up on the glacier was an added bonus to our time in Ushuaia. Tomorrow we’re headed to see a Penguin colony…I couldn’t be more excited. It’s been a great first few days of what is going to be one hell of a time in one of the wildest places on Earth.
And of course, what better place to go for dinner after getting back from our first Patagonian camping trip…I could not have guessed there would be a Hard Rock Cafe at the end of the world.
So happy to be here. Patagonia. The end of the world. Absolutely nothing better.