South America Trip Report: Ushuaia, Argentina

All over Ushuaia you’ll see references to it being “el fin del mundo,” or “the end of the world.” But why so negative, I ask? Why not call it “the START of the world”? Who says the world starts in the north? Maybe it starts in the south and works its way up.
When most people see the name “Ushuaia,” they think, “What the hell’s an Ushuaia?” Good question, although it should be formulated “Where the hell’s an Ushuaia?”
Ushuaia is the world’s southernmost city, at the very tip of South America. I’m not exactly sure why I decided to go there when I was planning the trip, but the more I read about it, the more interesting it sounded. And there were penguins!

Here I am, working on my Ushuaia street cred.
Since it’s the southernmost city in the world, you’d think it would be cold. It is cold, and we weren’t even there in the winter, but it wasn’t as bad as we had thought it would be. To put things in perspective, if you look at a map or a globe, the city is actually about the same amount south as Copenhagen is north. I guess there’s just a lot more “stuff” in the northern hemisphere, and it gets all up in the North Pole’s business, but that’s not really the case with the southern part of our charming little planet. 

I’ve never been to Alaska, but I have an image of Alaska similar to this in my mind.
But yeah, it was cold. The main thing we had planned during our visit was a tour to a penguin colony, and it was a definite highlight of the trip. After a visit to Estancia Harberton, one of the first European settlements in the area, we took a small boat to an island where the penguins nest and we were able to walk among them for an hour. Many tours go on larger boats, and since the island’s administrators have a tourist limit, the people in the larger boats have to take pictures from the water, and the boats only stop for a few minutes. The people from those boats aren’t allowed on the land. But the company that ran our tour is the only one with a permit to land on the island, and it limits visits to something like 80 tourists a day. Anyhow, enough talk! Check out some penguins:

Angela making friends.

The boat we came in on.

One thing they don’t tell you about penguins:
They often come with penguin crap.

The lone king penguin. The guide said he goes back there every year, even though he’s the only of his kind on the island, and everyone’s smaller. Like Matthew McConaughey in Dazed and Confused, maybe?

Me with penguins.

They have advanced moisture-wicking technology, apparently. 

Angela (in a jacket borrowed from the B&B owner) laughs in the face of Mother Nature.
So, the penguins were great, although the day we went it was windy and chilly. What else is there to do in Ushuaia? Well, that’s an issue, as it turns out. Because of flight times and based on online reviews, we had 7 days in town, and the forums I’d read indicated that wouldn’t be too much. But we kind of ran out of things to do after a couple days. We went to the nearby Tierra del Fuego National Park, which was beautiful. And we walked around town a lot. But we mainly went through stores in town, or stayed at the B&B and read to pass the time. It was relaxing, but we had the feeling that we should have stayed a few more days in Uruguay and cut out a few days in Ushuaia. But as they say, hindsight is 20/20.
In any case, have a look at some of the National Park pictures:
A friendly German couple that was staying at the same B&B as us. We went to the national park together. The B&B was a great alternative to a (very expensive) hotel, since we got to meet quite a few very nice people from all over the world.

An inlet in the national park.

Angela and the Germans on the trail.
This repulsive-looking stuff turns out to be a kind of weird, spongy fungus. I guess when it hardens, you can even eat it.

Nice flower.

And here are some pictures I took while around town:
Angela walking in a former prison we toured. It was pretty interesting, actually.

Docked ships.

A boat that was grounded and simply left in the harbor because it looked good.
The Bed and Breakfast we stayed at was really nice, and the owners were very friendly and welcoming. Although we probably budgeted more time than necessary in the town, it was relaxing to have a place to hang out after Buenos Aires, and before continuing on our voyage. 
And there were penguins!
So, that’s it for Ushuaia. Thanks for reading and looking; if you feel like seeing more pictures, you can check out my Ushuaia set on flickr here. And if you want to see any of the other sections of this trip report, follow these links:
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Errand-Running Monkey at Sitzblog
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