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Ushuaia, el Fin del Mundo

sunny 18 °C
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It took me 33 hours to get to Ushuaia from El Chaltén! We were supposed to arrive at the end of the world on Thursday evening 9pm and we finally arrived on Friday morning 4.30 am! To get to Ushuaia, you have to cross the Chilean border twice, which means you have to get out and into Argentina and into and out of Chile, which means queueing four times! Moreover, the wind at the stretch of Magellan was so strong that the ferries could not sail out and so we had to wait for hours. Our conducter was a very funny person and every time we got to another border crossing, he put on this very popular Argentinian cumbia song 'Bombon' and would start flickering the lights to wake everyone up. The song will always remember me of that trip.

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Ushuaia is very touristic with loads of souvenir shops, restaurants, pubs and coffee shops on its main streets but the surroundings are just stunning, all snow-capped mountains and than the Beagle Channel, which makes up the border with Chili. The first day, I did not do much, strolled around the centre a bit, bumped into Lelia, an Irish girl I had met in Torres, went for a few pints with her and we were soon joined by Bernd, a German I had met on the boat from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales in Chile. Lilia had to catch a flight back to Buenos Aires at 8.50 pm and we were chatting and drinking away, when she asked Bernd what time it was. Bernd looked at his watch and went: 'it's 8.10!'. I saw Lilia getting up and she was getting a bit white in the face. Afterwards, I got an e-mail saying that everything went fine and she had taken a later flight to BA, via Calafate. That night, I cooked for Bernd, Beatrice, Doris and Andy, two Swiss girls and a Briton that were on the bus to Ushuaia, too. It was quite late when we finished and we finished all the wine, too. As a result, next day was another easy day. Doris, Beatrice and me walked to the city centre, half-an-hour-walk from the hostel, and went to visit the massive Museo Marítimo, the former prison. It was quite interesting and you can walk around for hours in it.
Next day, I went to the beautiful Parque Nacional de Tierra del Fuego for the first time. I took an easy but beautiful 12-kilometer-walk near the Beagle Channel. It seemed like a beautiful place for camping as well but after about ten days of camping in the cold and sitting on buses, I was relieved to be in a hostel again and to sleep in a bed, to be able to take a shower, to cook in a kitchen and to sit at a table.

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Next day, I did the most amazing walk in the National Park: Cerro Guanaco. The walk is quite though and steep, 970 metres up on a five-kilometer-trail, sometimes through mud and over very slippery tree roots, I almost fell a few times. At the beginning of the trail, there is a sign saying you should not walk it alone, nor when the weather is bad nor without suitable clothing. Once you get above the treeline, the steepest part begins, with the actual Cerro Guanaco. But getting at the top is oh so rewarding! The view over Ushuaia, the Beagle Channel, the National Park, the forests and the surrounding mountains is indescribably breathtaking! I was very lucky with the weather, no clouds, hence a very far view, sunny but windy and cold on the top.

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The last day in Ushuaia, I walked up the hill just behind Ushuaia to get to the glacier. People had recommended it to me saying it was an easy walk, not very long, and with a beautiful view on Ushuaia. I am sure those people had taken the bus and the lift up the hill and had only than started walking to the glacier. After half an hour from the hostel, I got to a path where a sign said it would take 2 hours to walk up. After two hours, there was another sign, for yet another path that would take fourty minutes. I met an English couple on their way back down because it was too mudy further up. At the end of the path, it started raining and of course, for the first time in Ushuaia, I had not taken my rain coat because I had been lucky all the other days and the weather looked good that morning. I found shelter under the little building where people arrived by lift. When it had more or less stopped raining, I went on with the final part, which was quite steep. After a while, it started raining heavily again and even hailing. The view on Ushuaia and the Beagle Channel was beautiful, yes, but not as beautiful as from Cerro Guanaco and on the way back down, it had become so cloudy that I could not see a thing and it rained all the time, so I got soaked.

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It was such a relief to get back to the city centre after hours of walking! I had a nice Completo de Milanesa, a very big sandwich with a thick escalope (Milanesa), a fried egg, cheese, ham, tomato and salad, lovely and very filling. They come with a wide range of sauces you can put on yourself. In the evening I walked from the hostel to the airport to catch a flight to Trelew. Honestly, how many times can you say you have walked to the airport? Although I could have got a lift of somebody from the hostel, I found it a cool idea to walk to the airport and I had the chance to have a last look at Ushuaia and its surroundings.

Hasta prontito, amigos!

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Posted by Gitan Jean 16:17 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking

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