The End Of The World… Ushuaia !

Ferry on Rico Lake to Glaciar Perito Moreno

Ferry on Rico Lake to Glaciar Perito Moreno

El Calafate is a small, authentic city nestled on the shores of Lago Argentina and is known for being the starting point to the Glaciers National Park, a World Heritage Park home to 13 glaciers.  The most famous being of course ‘Glaciar Perito Moreno’.  There were different options to visit the glaciers… by boat, by ice trekking or just on the balconies.  I planned to just do the balconies (200Ps) but Wancy really wanted to do a glacier walk.  After consideration, I chose to join her.  The glacier walk included the balconies as well although shorter. We had two options… ‘Big Ice’ (1200Ps), a 4h glaciar walk with 2 small 15 minute boat trips along the glacier and 1h on the balconies or ‘Mini-Trekking’ (800Ps), the same but with a 1h30 glaciar walk.

Lago Rico

Lago Rico

We opted for ‘Mini-Trekking’.  Great was my surprise when I laid eyes on the glacier… This mass of ice was something I had never seen! I saw a couple of glaciers in the past such as Franz Josef in New-Zealand, but this one was quite unique! A huge sculpted mass of ice with water holes, caves, crevasses, bright blue colors and floating on water. Our guide Mario told us that other aspects of the glacier were unique too such as the speed (2m/day!), the fact that the glacier is only growing and that this glacier lies on only 100m above sea level !

Walkin' on ice @ Perito Moreno glacier !

Walkin’ on ice @ Perito Moreno glacier !

Perito Moreno is 250km2 glacier with a lenght of 30km and is located in the Santa Cruz province about 80km from El Calafate.  After a 1h20 bus ride, we took a ferry in the port of ‘Bajas las Sombras’ for about 15 minutes crossing Rico Lake.  In the shelter, our guide Mario took us for a short hike through the forest to the glacier’s south side where he gave us some crampons  to attach around our shoes for the ice-trek.  Once everyone was set, we started to walk cautiously on the ice.  What an icredible experience to walk on this huge mass of ice through cracks, seracs, streams, blue lagoons & crevasses offering us spectacular views all around as well.  Just unique…

The Balconies @ Glaciar Perito Moreno

The Balconies @ Glaciar Perito Moreno

From time to time the glacier produced a ‘breaking’, a phenomenon where a piece of the glacier drops into Rico Lake on the south side or into Canal de los Tempanos on the north side with a thundering noise offering spectacular sights.

After lunch, we drove to the balconies where we had 1h to admire both north & south sides. It was quite impressive as well but thank God I followed Wancy’s idea!  Because the ‘Mini-Trekking’ was a zillion times better and the views far more spectacular than if I only would have done the balconies!

Ushuaia

Ushuaia

Ushuaia… A place and a name that always intrigued me! First of all I really wanted to know where that name came from and as expected it has its origins in the native Yamana or Yaghan language. ‘Ushu’ meant ‘from the back’ and ‘Wuaia’ meant ‘bay, cove or port’. Litterally it meant ‘bay from the back’ but some translated it freely as ‘bay towards the sun’.  One of the first inhabitants was the British Missionary Rev. Thomas Bridges who explained the meaning of Ushuaia to be “Bay penetrating to the back”. It is situated between the edge of the Beagle Channel and the Martial mountain range and faces south.

Ushuaia

Ushuaia

But like I mentioned before, our flight would only do a stop-over in Ushuaia and continue to Buenos Aires.  My curiosity got stronger and i decided to change my flight and explore Ushuaia for 1 day.  The change was not so difficult thanks due to the fact that it was part of my around-the-world ticket.  But for Wancy, the price was too high and she decided to stay as planned on the flight till Buenos Aires.  We would meet the following day.  And that’s how i finally made it to the end of the world… Ushuaia!

The land surrounding the city of Ushuaia was discovered and named by the Portuguese expeditionary Ferdinand Magallan (formerly Magalhães) in 1520 who decided to call the province Tierra del Fuego (‘Land of Fire’) because of the numerous fires lit by the native Yamane/Yaghan people which could be seen smoking on the horizon.   Ushuaia was founded in September, 1884 & is the state capital of “Tierra del fuego”, the southernmost part of Argentina and also of South America.

The famous Argentinian outlaw ' '

The famous Argentinian outlaw ‘ ‘

A truly picturesque small city, with a mixture of architectural styles that reflect the contrasts of very old wooden houses with metal-plate fixtures and sharply slanted roofs for the snowy winters here along side modern looking buildings used mainly as hotels. On the main street, San Martín, parallel to the coast of the channel, elegant stores offered imported goods but the major attraction was of course the breathtaking scenery.

Ushuaia was at start famous for the Presidio which was known as “the jail at the end of the world”.  It is located in “Bahia Golondrina” and is no longer in use as a detention center. It is used as a very interesting museum. From 1902 to 1947 this prison gave residence to some of the most ferocious outlaws in South America.

The End Of The World - Ushuaia

The End Of The World – Ushuaia

The first thing I did at arrival was of course get a ‘Ushuaia, southernmost city of the world’ stamp at the tourist office! Check! Next I had the option to do a few things such as a cruise in the Beagle Channel to see sea lions, pinguins, etc. or a hike in the National Park. I chose to do the Hito XXIV trail and took the bus to Puerto Arias in the National Park (150Ps) where I had a magnificent view on Bahia Lapataia & the Beagle channel, Laguna Negro, Laguna Verde & Lago Roca where I had the chance to spot some foxes. Florencia, a lawyer from Buenos Aires had the same idea that day and we met at the end of the Hito XXIV trail before taking the bus back to Ushuaia. We strolled around town till sunset, bought some souvenirs and suddenly she had this crazy idea to go to the movies to see ‘Gravedad’.  Not something I would think of to do in Ushuaia but quite a nice experience…

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