posted on 2019-11-18 12:12:26 in Patagonia
The city was founded as a penal colony in October 1884. Today It is a resort town due to its location on the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, the southernmost tip of South America, well almost! The railway is nicknamed the “End of the World” with the original railway line built by the prisoners over 100 years ago. Ot has now been restored and one of the major draws to the city. With my love of trains and the promotion hype the railway gets, I cold not miss the opportunity to travel to the “End of the world” behind a steam locomotive. I have to say I was somewhat disappointed by the experience, being over commercialised and while the commentary was interesting I also found it melodramatic. To make things worse I couldn’t even get a shot of the “Old “ steam engine which turned out to be built in Wales in 1999!
Nevertheless it gave us an entry point into the National Park and our day’s hike. The hike started with a visit to the Post office at the “End of the World ” here you can buy and send post cards and even pay for a stamp in your passport, should you wish to queue an hour with so many tourists there. I couldn’t wait to get away from them and start the trail proper. For most of the walk it was through coastal forest. This was quite different to all the previous hikes we have done and a good change of scenery. With so many tourists visiting the park the track was even busier than the “W” track so wildlife was scarce but we did manage to see a pair of Cauquen Camino (Upland Geese) and another woodpecker high in a tree.
Ushuaia is a indswept town, perched on a steep hill, surrounded by the Martial Mountains and the Beagle Channel. It’s the gateway to Antarctica cruises and tours to nearby Isla Yécapasela, known as “Penguin Island” for its penguin colonies. A penguin cruise was a must but not just any cruise – a sail! Much better than the big catamaran with 50 people on board. Once out in the channel with the sail up all you can hear is the sound of the wind in the sails and the water lapping against the hull. Being a small boat everything was more personal and we were able to get close to the wildlife without disturbing them. We did see penguins, not as many as hoped for and we also saw numerous birds including a brown backed Albatros, giant petrol, South American Terns and several species of Gulls and Cormorants. Around 50 sea lions and fur seals huddled on a rock were a sight to see but the solitary Leopard Seal lying on the beach then making his way into the water near the penguin colony was an unexpected bonus.
Enjoying a very relaxing and memorable day.