Having had our fill of Buenos Aires, we set off for Patagonia. We’d been away for a couple of weeks by this point, but somehow that time in warmer climes had only ever felt like the prologue. The wilderness of Patagonia was what had really drawn me to this continent, the subject of my daydreams in the run up to our departure, and now we found ourselves on a plane to Ushuaia – the world’s most southerly city. It felt like the trip was really beginning.
It’s an unusual place, Ushuaia. Nestled at the end of Tierra del Fuego – the wild, windblown archipelago at the tip of South America, shared between Argentina and Chile – it’s the launch point for eye-wateringly expensive Antarctic cruises. The isolated location is at odds with the many posh shops and cafés that cater for tourists with time to kill before their cruise.
For our part, we spent most of our time exploring the glorious scenery around the town. For starters, we climbed up the foreboding hills that loom above it, topped by a thinning glacier.
Gazing back down to the piercing blue of the Beagle Channel below made us want to see it properly. After a stunning sunrise the following morning, we hopped aboard a boat that took us along the water, past ancestors of sea lions and penguins that would have seen the HMS Beagle sail through here in the 1830s, one Charles Darwin on board.
With only one full day left to spend here, we were keen to see Ushuaia’s national park a few miles down the coast. Waking to heavy rain and wind wasn’t the ideal start, but with it being a case of now or never we wrapped up and got on with it. The weather saw to it that we were the only people on the bus that morning, wondering what we were letting ourselves in for as the rain lashed against the window, but fortune favours the brave and the rain began to clear as we arrived. With the rough start having kept most people in bed, we were lucky enough to enjoy the area’s extraordinary sights in almost total seclusion, the remaining squalls leaving rainbows in their wake.
If you’re planning your own trip to Patagonia, Ushuaia comes highly recommended. It was the perfect introduction to the huge vistas and changeable weather that typifies this part of the continent, and there was plenty more to come as we took off from Ushuaia’s tiny, picturesque airport, bound for El Calafate.
You’ll find more shots from the area in my Flickr set.