At World’s End: Ushuaia

I celebrated the completion of my tour with steak – what else – and then had some beers in the local Irish pub, since that’s where tourists everywhere are supposed to go for a drink or two. Or more.

Thursday 4 January

Thursday morning I took a bus tour of the city. The tour might seem expensive at first, but it comes with discounts for a few of Ushuaia’s top attractions which I wanted to visit anyway, so I gained money instead on the tour. It was also a nice and gentle introduction to the city. Afterwards I went to the combined maritime and prison museum, which tells much of the history of Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego.

In the small harbour is a mix of Antarctic cruise ships, fishers and cargo ships.
View over Ushuaia and the surrounding mountains and water.
The prison museum is inside the old prison.

After lunch I walked to my other hostel for tonight, which is a few kilometers away from the center. It’s a nice walk along the waterfront though, so I didn’t really mind. I used most of the afternoon to update my blog and simply rest. I cooked pasta with the food I had left and went to bed early that evening.

Friday 5 January

Friday I walked back to the center. After dropping off my stuff at the original hostel I went looking for a bike box and packing materials. The first bike shop I asked gave me a box for free, which I think is large enough for my bike after some disassembly.

I spent most of the afternoon packing my bike and other stuff. “Some disassembly” turned into almost completely taking the bike apart, but it’s in the box with room to spare! I also thoroughly cleaned my stove, which isn’t really mine, so it hopefully won’t smell of petrol anymore and will thus be accepted at the airport. My panniers are also far from full. Thus I have room for souvenirs now, several of which I bought that evening. I also bought a ticket to go on a cruise of the Beagle Channel tomorrow.

That should fit easily, right?
Nope, I was still not done disassembling here.
Sunset at the waterfront.

Saturday 6 January

I had to embark for the cruise at 8:30, which means skipping breakfast at the hostel. It was a beautiful morning in Ushuaia and we had great views of the city and the surrounding mountains as we left. The boat visited a few islands full of sea lions and cormorants as well as Ushuaia’s iconic lighthouse. Then we sailed east for quite a while, passing Puerto Williams, a small town on Isla Navarino on the south side of the Channel. If you ask a Chileno they will likely say this is the southernmost city in the world instead of Ushuaia. I agree with the common opinion that it’s not a “city”.

A few Antarctic cruisers were present today.
An island full of seals and their droppings.
We’re not the only ones here.
The lighthouse is mainly visited by cormorants.

The boat then stopped at an island full of Magellanic penguins. As I was watching them I also noticed a few members of another penguin species which I have yet to identify. After dropping off the people who were also going to visit Estancia Haberton we sailed back to Ushuaia. Though there were no more stops we got a nice treat. The conditions were just right to go through a narrow passage very close to the main island, which was very beautiful. All in all it was a great cruise, as evidenced by the number of photos I took.

More penguins! Magellanic penguins in front, gentoo penguins in the back.
We passed to a narrow channel full of small rocky islands.

Back at the hostel I talked to a guy from Montreal who moved to the Yukon to become a gold miner. At least that’s what he does for four months of the year, the rest he spends travelling. He recommended a good place for parrilla libre, i.e. all-you-can-eat grilled meat including beef and lamb. That seems like a fitting end to my time in Patagonia, so let’s go there. Interestingly this is also the best way to get a different salad than the standard lettuce and tomato, since these places often have a big salad buffet.

Sunday 7 January

I don’t have enough time for a hike into the surrounding mountains, so I thought to visit a museum in the morning and then head to the airport. However, they turned out to be closed on Sundays, so I just walked around for a while. I looked at the ships and birds at the waterfront for the umpteenth time, but I never get tired of that. And finally I had lunch before returning to the hostel to collect my stuff and get a taxi.

This stranded ship was left here as a reminder of the dangers in sailing the Beagle channel. Also the container ship Perito Moreno, which had been at the dock as long as I was in Ushuaia, is now banished to the bay to make way for more cruise ships.
Gulls and giant petrels roam the shore line.

The taxi from the center to the airport took 15 minutes and cost me about 200 pesos. I arrived early, about 2 and a half hours before departure, to make sure everything would be completed in time. There was however absolutely no need for that on such a small airport. The taxi stopped some 20 meters from the baggage drop desk and after the employee there checked with his colleagues whether they were open at the moment, he checked me in without problems. Obviously Ushuaia airport is used to dealing with bikes. Officially LATAM charges 400 pesos for each extra piece of luggage and 600 for oversize, so my bike should have cost me 1000 pesos to bring. I only got charged 400 though, payable in cash or by credit card. By the way, there’s no need to register the bike in advance. The policy on Aerolineas Argentinas should be more or less the same from what I’ve heard.

There were also zero people waiting for security, so after drinking my water I breezed right through. No need to even take my computer out of the bag. Just two hours of waiting left until departure. At an adjacent gate people are forming a long queue to board, despite no plane being present there. This happened for every flight I saw. When the plane arrived my bike was the first piece of luggage to be loaded.

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