Thursday, 24 March 2011

La ciudad del fin del mundo

That's what Ushuaia is known as. "The town at the end of the world", a claim that is 100% accurate since there is no other human establishment of any form after this point, just penguins, sea-lions, whales and other wonderful creatures. Just to get an idea, the distance between Ushuaia and Antarctica is just 700 miles.

Tierra del fuego: where Atlantic & Pacific oceans meet

That said, Ushuaia is also the departing port, if you want to get on a cruise boat for a usually 2-week excursion to Antarctica. That is of course if you can spare the 4-5k U$D for the trip, which in my current declining economic condition can only dream of. Donations accepted though :))
I arrived in Ushuaia 4 days ago, in a zombie condition, after a 5am flight from Buenos Aires. Didn't do much during that first day; just walking around in the streets and try to get the feel of the town. It's very touristic down here, something that I wasn't expecting to that degree. Travel agencies and tech-clothing shops all over the place. Hostels, pubs, coffee shops, restaurants, 3 casinos and a handful of strip-clubs complete the picture. All of a sudden I got the feeling that I should have visited this place maybe 15 years least there are no McDonalds, KFC etc. yet.

No, I am not in Vegas :)

Seemed though as a place offering a lot of things to do. . . . at a price, as discovered shortly after.
The hostel I am staying as of this writing, is probably the best in town and costs only 12 Euros so accommodation is pretty much ok. At the hostel's common area there are a lot of leaflets, advertising all kind of activities you can imagine. From scuba diving, to trekking, horse riding, kayaking, penguin watching at the Beagle channel, and then some. Asking around, revealed that more or less you need about 50-150 euros per day depending on the activity. To cut a long story short, I decided to visit the national park, which takes a whole day, and also go to Glacier Martial which is a glacier (obviously) located at the mountains behind the city, and is actually one of the very few things that you don't need to pay, a strong incentive indeed. So, I started from the glacier. If you are still with me, this is where the actual post starts, so keep reading...
Asked several people about how long it takes to reach the glacier, and everybody was saying about 2-2,5h. So, I left the hotel around 12.30pm full of energy and commitment to reach the glacier. I had a draft map with me which showed me the way up until to a certain point. Walking towards the upper part, revealed a totally different face of this, seemingly very touristic town. Take a look at the pics below. They speak for themselves...

I was really glad I did not take a taxi up to the point where the glacier path begins and had the opportunity to discover this part of Ushuaia. It seems that not everybody enjoys the merits of tourism and wealth in this town, which is largely the case in Buenos Aires as well. No sad faces though, and people always willing to assist you in whatever you ask....starts getting better !!
Reaching the town borders, and only thing could see on the road, was taxis going up and down. I was already walking for almost an hour and the glacier wasn't even getting closer. So, I prepared myself for a looong walk. Didn't want to get a taxi, because usually you lose those little details that actually help you get a better picture of the place and the people.
And indeed, after about 15' of walking along the main road, I discovered there was a little creek coming from the mountain and a detailed map next to it, of several footpaths inside the forest, one of which was terminating at the the same point where a taxi would get me. 2h one way...just what I needed

This is where I started....

.....and that's where I was aiming to get. Yeah, right !

Nature can make the greatest paintings

Red fungus. "Eats" the tree from inside out.....

....turning it into red dust, until it falls to the ground

Just the sound of the creek & the light whistle of the wind. 

Already 1h into the forest and still had not met anyone.

For most part, the footpath was very clearly marked

After a short break and a quick snack, started again to make my way to the end of the path which should  be no more than half an hour away. 

getting closer, but not quite there yet

another 45' ???...

was worth every bit of the effort
What a spectacular view !!!
now, I have to get back down before it gets too dark

I made it back to the hostel at around 10pm....what a day that was....

Buenas noches mi amigos. 
Hasta luego !!!