Day 1: Welcome to the Southernmost City in the World!
The airport line over at El Calafate airport was a bit crazy, but made it on in time to my flight to Ushuaia. Again, I kind of come to these cities blind folded as I didn’t know what to expect. All I knew was that Ushuaia was the Southernmost city in the world and located at the very south of Argentina. I also realized that I wasn’t leaving Patagonia quite yet which made me even more happy and excited! The flight was real easy, just over an hour with Aerolíneas Argentinas. A cool thing about Aerolíneas Argentinas is that they give these cool snack boxes with pictures of different areas in Argentina to visit. I remember getting a box for Buenos Aires, Salta, and El Calafate. I really wanted to keep these boxes but that inner hoarder was telling me NO!
We arrived smoothly and I noticed people on the plane give a round of applause for a great landing. I actually like that, I want the staff to feel they did a great job and how appreciative we are for a safe landing. After collecting my bags, the driver from the agency was holding a sign with my name on it along with 2 other names. When I saw the other people, I recognized them from El Calafate and figured that we may have the same itinerary as me over here at Ushuaia. One was a Chinese couple living in Brooklyn, NY and the other was a family (Dad, Mom, Teenage son and Tween Daughter) from New Jersey. The driver didn’t know how to speak English that well, but was telling me in Spanish that the family’s luggage was heavy and it was making him hot and tired! HAHAHA
My hotel, Hosteria Patagonia Jarke was really charming and also on top of a hill. Maybe its a sign that my hotel in El Calafate and Ushuaia were on top of hills for me to exercise more! Diego at the front desk was really helpful and carried my large pack up the stairs for me! He spoke perfect English and told me that I can even drink the tap water since its from the Glaciers (something that I can NEVER do in Southeast Asia without getting a trip to the hospital!) I had a twin room and once I got settled in, I took my puffy jacket and went to walk down over to the main street to grab some dinner. Ok, so in Argentina and South America in general, they like to eat dinner late (like after 8pm). Most restaurants open at 8pm because they have their siesta in the afternoon. This was hard for me to adjust to because homegirl gets hungry early– like at 5 or 6pm!
As I was walking down the main street, it wasn’t as small with a cute wood cabin charm as El Calafate, it was much bigger and with a ton of stores selling gear and clothing for the cold weather. I was hungry and looking for a restaurant actually open and ended up finding a sandwich place and ordered their special– steak sandwich. When it came out, it was HUGE! I only ate half (wrapped the rest to go) and also ordered a hot chocolate to keep warm. I walked around some more and found a churros place, but was so full that I told myself that I will need to come back and try. After eating and walking, I headed back to the hosteria to get a good night sleep for my new adventure in the morning.
Day 2: Because I’m Happy
In the morning, Daniel (my guide for the day) came over to pick me up and in the van a few familiar faces– the family and the couple from the airport! Also noticed that the driver was back again! It was actually quite nice to see familiar faces for the day. Along with the familiar faces, there was another couple and 3 solo females all from Buenos Aires. For today, we had a jam packed itinerary– a 3 hour hike at Tierra del Fuego National Park, then canoeing at the Lapataia River. Upon arrival at Ensenada Bay, I was just blown away. Beautiful snow capped mountains and a lake with a perfect reflection, it was beyond stunning.
Our hike was ready to begin and Daniel was a cool guide– stopping occasionally to talk about the native flora and wild fauna. I seriously LOVED the hike and had a huge smile on my face. The weather was perfect– no beaming sun, well shaded, and the beautiful scenery. I never realized I can love a hike so much, but then again I was in Patagonia! Patagonia is my heart, I really really love it out here and felt an overwhelming amount of happiness. The way I felt, I haven’t felt this way since I was in Cambodia. A very special moment for me.
While I was falling in love with Patagonia, there were some not so perfect moments. For some reason, there was a ton of horse sh*t on the trail! I was asking Daniel where all the horses were and he told me that the Gauchos “accidentally” lose their horses so they can eat the plants in nature, then they come back. Horses aren’t allowed in the park, but the gauchos run out of food for the horses and lets them loose in the park to eat for free. Other than dodging horse poop, it was still one of the best experiences of my life (and the BEST hike I’ve ever been on).
Also in our group there was this girl that only spoke Spanish and would talk to Daniel the whole time. I didn’t know whether she was a guide in training and asked and Daniel started laughing and said that she’s a tourists as well and just talks a lot! She would also ask us to take pictures of her and I get it, I am a solo female too and its hard to get someone to take a picture of you (that’s why I gave up months ago lol). But seriously, I was focusing on taking some gorgeous shots and she would go up to me and ask me to take a pic. It’s like sheesh, let me focus first and I’ll take your picture! Once homegirl smiled, I almost dropped her camera because I noticed she was missing a tooth! Man, I need to be nicer to snaggle as I don’t want to wake up all buck tooth from the karma!
After our awesome hike, I was feeling really good and getting really hungry! We made a stop at Roca Lake and had a large tent setup for us with lunch ready inside! Our awesome driver was back again and he and Daniel prepared chicken stew, bread, cheese, salami and red wine pouring for lunch (at least we won’t have to worry about Snaggle getting red wine teeth!) We all had a great time, chatted, had some more stew, and of course more vino! Once we were done with lunch, we headed out Lapataia river for our canoeing!
As we arrived, Daniel provided us with water boots and these parachute looking pants that would be MC Hammer to shame! I was laughing because my pants where to huge, I had to take pictures to forever remember this moment. Our group split up in 2 since there were 2 big rafts–The first raft had the family, Daniel and Snaggle. My raft had me, the other solo female and the 2 couples. For this canoeing, we actually had to do some work and row to get anywhere! The Lapataia river takes you to Lapataia Bay on the Beagle Channel and you get some pretty awesome views. I looked over at the other raft and saw everyone doing the work and Snaggle just chillin there and taking pictures! OMG if she was on my raft, I would have thrown her camera in the river and tell her lazy butt to row! We all were making fun of her on my raft lol
After our awesome canoeing, we were done for the day and headed back to Ushuaia. On the car ride home, I thought about always remembering this moment and the way I felt on the hike at Tierra del Fuego– PURE BLISS!
Day 3: Happy Feet
For today, the plan was to walk over to the pier and embark on a boat excursion along the famous Beagle Channel! I didn’t have any problems walking over and finding the pier in the morning and was there pretty early so I decided to take some photos at the dock. I also ran into the family again and they told me they tried to change their boat excursion to the other one that takes you to the penguins, but they were leaving that night so it wouldn’t have worked out as it was a full day tour. I wasn’t leaving until the next morning so I asked if it was possible for me to change my tour to the penguin one! The girl that worked there then told me, “You can, but I just want to be honest with you and let you know that it’s already the end of the season and most of the penguins left already. I was there a few days ago and the only ones left are the sick ones that stay at the island because they know they are going to die.” OK, sticking to the original plan an I was glad she was honest with me instead of taking my money for the upgraded tour to see the penguins (or lack of).
I chatted a bit more with the family and their son just turned 17 and will be attending college soon! How exciting to have parents take you to exotic places in the world all before turning 18! They were great to chat with and told me that they had traveled across the world together before they had kids and make a strong effort to keep doing so after having kids. I want to live my life the same way too. I LOVE what I am doing and want to keep traveling and exploring even when I have kids in tow! The dad cracked a joke about Snaggle yesterday saying that she kept talking on their canoe excusrion and Daniel snapped back, “Less talking and more rowing!” LOL The son told me he tried to stay behind Daniel during the hike, but she would always push herself to the front close to him and talk his ear off! HAHAHA Hey guys, remember she’s gotta missing tooth! 😉
We all board the boat and away we go! I was actually pretty darn excited because I was sailing to one of the most southern parts of the world! Antarctica is just 1000km away and costs a ton of G’s to get down there so it was awesome that I was this close. We got to see panoramas of Ushuaia Bay and sailed up De los Lobos and De los Pajaros Islands where the South American sea lions and seals were. OMG they were just so BIG and cute making a ton of noise and we got up real close to them! We then made a stop to explore the island for concheros and learn about the habitants from the past and nature. Also it was awesome because we also got to enjoy the views of Chile and Argentina! After the island, we sailed over to the Les Eclaireurs lighthouse. SO AWESOME being south of the world!
After our boat excursion, we get back to Ushuaia and I was getting hungry and wanted to make my way to one of the nice restaurants there and enjoy some good seafood! Maria Lola’s was recommended by my travel agent and I must say, this was probably one of the best meals I had in South America! I ordered this seafood meal with the HUGEST Chilean Sea Bass I have ever seen along with crab leg meat, squid and shrimps all in a butter sauce. The Sea Bass stole the show and was cooke perfectly– seared on the outside and butter and soft in the inside. Really amazing! I even had dessert– dulce de leche! After dinner, I headed over to Chocolates Edelweiss to pick up some goodies on my way home.
I really loved my trip to Ushuaia and Patagonia is always going hold a special place in my heart!