The End of The World, been there, done that !

We left Buenos Aires and its lovely and warm autumn weather with a bit of melancholy and a sunburn on Fred’s forehead. These three days went very fast, were very intense as we walked A LOT to discover the town, tried out our first local dishes including some tasty empanadas and a huge piece of meat, and we did enjoy the really nice 26 degrees and sun. Felt like very hot Swedish summer to us, and was a very pleasant feeling. But we had to keep moving because 3000 km south of Buenos Aires, autumn is much colder and similar to the weather we had in Uppsala before leaving home : uncertain, cold and humid with chances of snow at anytime.

So we took a plane early in the morning, and before you know, we are preparing for landing in Tierra del Fuego. And what a landing ! Ushuaia airport is located on the Beagle Channel that separates Chile and Argentina, and links the Atlantic and Pacific oceans together. On both sides of the channel are very high mountains as it is the very end of the Andes mountains. The views were just stunning, even though it was cloudy, we saw first the top of every peak, bleached by snow, and as we went down, the full range of the mountains unravelled. Fantastic!

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And for three days we got to discover Ushuaia, located at the End of the World. This is actually a very nice marketing operation, as technically Ushuaia is quite a fairly big city and harbour and doesn’t leave you with the impression that you’re at the end of the civilisation at all but more in a ski resort town. And on the other side, more in the South there are Chileans towns or villages as well. So Ushuaia is actually the last southernmost argentine city, or the southernmost big city before the (real) end of the world. But it is true that on the map it seems far. And for us it is the starting point of the journey.

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While visiting the area, another thing surprised us is the constant references to one historical event. Everywhere in town, in every shop, on every car there are stickers that say “Las Malvinas son Argentinas”. The conflict between Argentina and the UK that escalated into war 30 years ago for the dispute over the ruling of the Islas Malvinas / Falkland islands has let deep marks into the local population. We even arrived from the airport taxi into town when a ceremony with a lot of important people and military forces as well as citizens where celebrating the argentine assault on the British positions. And later during the day, after Merima insisted to visit the local Hard Rock Cafe, we have been offered to add a white and azur flag on our jackets! People are proud in Ushuaia and they don’t like British that much. Funniest door sign was food on the gates of the harbour : “We do not welcome english pirates in this harbour”.

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After discovering downtown Ushuaia and witness and awesome sunset, we went for a little walk to the Glaciar Martial the next day, located in the mountains above the city. It was supposed to be a little day walk that ended up in a very long hike as we decided to start from downtown instead of taking a cab to the beginning of the trail. So 24km, “little day hike, my leg”. But it was nice to see the suburbs of Ushuaia, not just the main street downtown. And by the time we reached the trail we realised it was actually more of a ski slope without snow that we had now to climb. But it was worth it as the views from the top of the hikes (about 850m) on the city, and the Beagle channel were splendid. And on the mountain side we could reach not too far from the glacier end. Very nice as well.

The following day we did what we do best so far : Walk ! So we took a bus and went a bit outside town where the Tierra del Fuego National Park starts. And for the whole day we explored most of the trails in the park, the ones that were not going too up in the mountains anyway because the weather started to be capricious so we sought cover in the very old and dense forests instead of trying to admire the lookout points. We really enjoyed that day, between the forest and the sea. And as the autumn colours were really kicking in it made for a very nice atmosphere to walk there in the mist without seeing anybody. We ended up with another more-than-20-km day walk. No need to say how easily we felt asleep every night back in the hostel.

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But every thing as an end, even our stay at the end of the world, which is more like the actual beginning of Let’s Go to Quito adventures, and we start to move closer to home. Now that we’ve been here at the end of everything, every step we make takes us closer.

And the next step requires a 15 hours long bus travel and a border change as we cross over to Chile to start our discovery of Patagonia with more hikes ! We’ll write about that soon !

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