posted on 2019-11-19 21:09:36 in Patagonia
Each day in Ushuaia got better and better! Today we took an exciting 4×4 drive through the forest in a Landrover Defender to Lago Fagnano. I have never taken a “Proper” 4×4 trip but knew what I could expect and was not disappointed. The solid chunky Defender stood up to everything the rugged terrain could throw at her. It was great to “ swim” and keep feet dry, lean into the hillside through fear of rolling and the novelty of driving sideways like a crab walking will remain firm memories for me. Even the driver, who has driven the circuit hundreds of times over the past 15 years still got a buzz when he skill fully negotiated a tricky manoeuvre.
The trip also boasted an opportunity to see beavers, so after our afternoon tea we went in search of the furry critters. Unfortunately we did not see any but we did encounter the destruction of the landscape this introduced “Pest” has done. In 1947 50 pairs of beaver were introduced from Canada with the view of trapping for the fur. While Tierra Del Fuego is a cold and harsh environment it is nowhere near as bad as Canada and the Beavers adapted their fur Subsequently it was not as thick and therefore an inferior quality and useless for trade. What was not taken into consideration in 1947 was the problems an exotic species can bring to the land. Beavers live an javerage 18 years and from the age of 1 they start having up to 4 babies every year. That’s a lot of babies with no natural predators and trapping to keep numbers in check. The increasing beaver population has now spread throughout southern Patagonia to outlying islands and even the mainland as they can swim in both fresh and seawater. In Canada they feed and use pine, which is a fast growing tree that can survive in wet conditions and can regrow from old stumps. In southern Patagonia there are no pine trees, the trees here survive in fast draining shallow soil and are slow growing directly from seeds. Tree graveyards can now be seen all over the landscape near water courses. Despite all above it still impressive to see what this small animal can do. How they cut down small trees for the dams and create lagoons behind the dams, strip off bark on branches for food leaving a smooth surface but most of all the felling of huge trees just to sharpen their teeth!
The next morning we were heading back to Chile catching the bus at 8am from the waterfront bus stop. The early morning was warm, still and peaceful as we walked through the city. Restaurant in Ushuaia have strange opening hours, 12-4pm and 8pm-12 midnight despite the late starts, one of the regions specialty dishes – fire roasted lamb, meds to be started early to ensure it is cooked properly.
The journey to the border and through the immigration process on both sides was thankfully hassle free, which left me hoping our entry to NZ next week will be equally as easy.
Unlike our previous trip when we arrived at the ferry terminal we drove straight onto the ferry and then promptly departed so no further delays there. We eventually arrived in Punta Arenas, our final South American destination in under 10hrs at 5:45pm.