What is South of South? The Southest!…Ushuaia, Argentina

Itinerary:

  1. Wake up super early to catch a plane from Chile to Argentina.
  2. Tour Ushuaia through Tierra Del Fuego National Park and take a catamaran tour of Lapatia Bay.
  3. Board the National Geographic Endeavour and get used to life at sea.
Leaving Ushuaia for the Beagle Channel
Leaving Ushuaia for the Beagle Channel

Wow! I thought yesterday was action-packed, but today has been incredible! I could do without the 4:15 AM wake-up call, but it was worth it to have the time we had in Ushuaia. Now the trip has really begun! The temperature has dropped, the wind is kicking, and every mountain top is covered in snow.

Apparently Ushuaia has some of the worst weather on earth, but we got lucky and had sun all day. I’ve been told this only happens a few days out of the summer. Flying into Ushuaia is an experience because the approach is well below the Andes Mountain tops, so looking out both sides of the plane is quite scenic. It is like seeing a huge chunk of Patagonia with climate control.

Ushuaia is surrounded by the Andes, like Santiago, but with more impressive peaks. This part of the Andes is very young, so the formations are shear and extremely pointed. They look like a serious challenge for the most experienced mountain climbers. They also make for some great photos, and I feel like I got my fair share against the rare sunny skies.

After landing, we boarded buses to tour Tierra del Fuego National Park. After the park tour we boarded a ship to sail the channel. I was told to bring my longest lens, so I don’t have any photos from the bus tour (I can explain those technicalities another time). I definitely want to spend some time in Tierra del Fuego – it is a very special place. The wildlife is surprisingly lush. The one photo I wish I had gotten was of a falcon sitting by the road. There were lots of colorful ibis and South American species of duck and geese. There are some very noticeable variations in these Southern species compared to our Northern ones.

Blue-Eyed Shag
Blue-Eyed Shag

The most exciting part of the day was visiting a few Blue-Eyed Shag (Cormorant) colonies and a Sea Lion colony. I have seen huge numbers of Cormorants around Virginia, but the Blue-Eyed Shag is a prettier bird. Our Cormorants are brown with distinctive feather patterns, and certainly a good looking bird. The cormorants here have blue around their eyes, a pronounced head feather, and a golden protrusion just above the beak. If they had the feathering of their Northern cousins, this would be one of nature’s best creations.

Female Sea Lion catching some Z's
Female Sea Lion catching some Z

On another island we encountered a group of sleeping Sea Lions. As we are here when all animals are racing to breed in the warmer weather, we got to witness some sparring between the males. It wasn’t anything super spectacular – it looked like they were too tired to really get into it. I’m sure we’ll see some Elephant Seals really going at it on South Georgia.

The only lesson I can give you about approaching animal colonies of this size is hold your nose. There’s a lot of poo around and man is it foul.

After heavily breathing some of the cleanest air on the planet to cleanse my nostrils we were headed for our new home: the National Geographic Endeavour. This ship has already exceeded my expectations. I thought it would be smaller than it is. There are plenty of places to socialize and a few quiet places to get away from the hustle. Dinner was great, and I grabbed a few cups of evening coffee with one of my shipmates in the library afterward. I did run out of dinner early to photograph the sunset, and am glad I did because I hear those don’t happen too often in Ushuaia.

It is almost 11:00 PM here, and I’m beat. I have to write these articles in Word now because the Internet connection is worse than dial-up and very expensive. I’m going to try to upload some images, but I hear it is rough.

Tomorrow we’re at sea all day and the captain said tonight’s cruise is going to be rough. Maybe I’ll wake up on the floor!

Advertisements

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Jeff Kershner says:

    I hope you’re enjoying the “poo” Alex. The photo of Ushuaia is amazing.

    Like

  2. Richard Hutsko says:

    Alex,
    Great photos and I am enjoying the narrative. Looking forward to the rest of the trip (as I’m sure you are as well). Living vicariously through you is interesting! Stay safe. Be well.

    Richard

    Like

  3. John Houmis says:

    Alex, Absolutley amazing!! keep the stories and the spectacular photographs coming our way. I can only say Breathtaking so far. Please travel safe and savor every moment.

    Like

  4. mom says:

    Alex,
    This has been the highlight of my day…rain and a garage sale don’t work too well. Your items found a new home. The little ones insisted Dad take them all!

    The toys you have now far exceed all of those before.

    The living diary is a treat! Keep it coming as you are able. The photos are beautiful!

    Hope you don’t bump your head in the rough seas.

    LU.
    Mom

    Like

  5. axspot says:

    Jeff – it took a while to get that smell out. I hear the 2 ton elephant seals are a joy to be around. They’re about 3-4 days away.

    Richard – glad you’re enjoying things. I spent most of today in bed from motion sickness, but promise to have some better photos from the Falklands.

    John – thanks and good to hear from you.

    Mom – glad to hear all of my old junk in the attic has found a new home. Did I at least earn some lunch money off it? Of course, you get a nice commission 😉

    Tell Q I’ve been thinking of him today. I now know how he felt when deep-sea fishing in Costa Rica. But no chocolate cake for me!

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s