The Road to Ushuaia

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The Road to Ushuaia

We were sad to say good bye to Buenos Aires but were anxious to get back to the truck and hit the road again.

A quick ferry jaunt across the Rio de Plata and we were in Uruguay and within a few days we were thanking the family that stored our rig and we were back on the road.

A couple days later we crossed back into Argentina turned left and began the long trek towards the southern most city in the world, Ushuaia.

Still more than 3,100 kms to go.

As we headed south we past through the outskirts of Buenos Aires and the beautiful towns and villages frequented as weekend escapes by Portenos.

Still very early in the spring season we found ourselves mostly alone in these leafy country towns so we enjoyed the friendly communities and solitude but were quickly ready to push on.

We were excited to reach the Peninsula Valdes Marine Reserve back on the Atlantic Coast, marking our Northern entry into Patagonia.

The water surrounding the Peninsula mixes hot ocean currents coming down from Brazil and cold currents coming up from the Malvinas (or Falkland Islands, depending whose side you are on) making the Peninsula a perfect breeding and feeding environment for whales, seals, sea lions and many birds.

We would be visiting during Southern Right Whale season.

Wild camping on the beach, moving from a seal viewing beach to penguin viewing beach to whale viewing beach, we had a great time.

The highlight was definitely a boat trip out of Puerto Piramides to get up close with Southern Right Whales.

Southern Right Whales can grow up to 17 meters (56 feet) and can weigh as much as 60 tons and are known for their large heads covered in callosities.

This is common behaviour known as "Tail Sailing" whereby the whales seem to be posing for us and stay motionless for long periods of time.

Here's a fun fact:

In addition to their large heads Southern Right Whales have the largest testes in the animal kingdom.  Each weighing up to 1,100 lbs.

  

From the Peninsula we headed to Puerto Madryn to load up on supplies including another propane fill that those in my former  life would of certainly frowned upon.

We carried on down the coast to the penguin rookery at Puerto Tumbo

The rest of the drive south would call for long hours behind the wheel bouncing from fishing village to fishing village down the east coast and a few more logistical hoops before we reach the ultimate destination of our entire journey, Ushuaia.

We would need to leave Argentina and cross into Chile.

Board a ferry to cross the Strait of Magellan.

...and cross back into Argentina before making the final push.

Our last night before Ushuaia.  Only 100 km to go, somewhere over those mountains in the distance.

After 824 days, 46,139 kms on October 21, 2018 we reached the Southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia. A picture perfect town set on the shores of the Beagle Channel.

South of here the land ends at Cape Horn and 500 miles (805 km) to the south of that across the Drake Passage, Antartica begins.

We settled in to the beautiful Tierra del Fuego National Park to relax for a few days and reflect on our journey.

We acknowledged how fortunate we are to be on this trip, reflected on the grand scale of the distance we have covered, laughed about some of the challenges but mostly reveled in the fact that while this is the end of the road heading south, our trip is far from over with possibly the best of Patagonia still to come.

The bulk of our time in Ushuaia was spent camping and hiking the beautiful Tierra del Fuego Park.

  

While in the park we learned that 50 Canadian beavers were brought to Tierra Del Fuego in 1946 in an attempt to jump start a fur trading industry.

The fur trade never took off and with no natural predators in the area, the beavers multiplied (approx 200,000 by 2011).

Today these little buggers are everywhere.

The destruction and devastation is unbelievable and a massive eradication effort is underway.

In true Canadian fashion.....we apologized!

The remainder of our time in Ushuaia was spent searching out local culinary delicacies, primarily, King Crab.

The King Crab even finds its way into the empanadas down here.

We never did figure this one out.  Just tasted like regular ceviche to me.

Mate is the national drink of Argentina and you cannot walk down a street from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia without bumping into Argentines carrying their thermos of hot water to refill their mate gourd.

We're working hard at acquiring a taste for this heavily caffeinated steeped tea from the Yerba Mate plant.

No visit to Ushuaia would be complete without a visit to the jail at the end of the world.

Built in 1896, the prison held  prisoners ranging from robbers to serial killers to political prisoners.

The prison and its workshops became a big part of the remote community as its inmates were responsible for working in many of the services required by the locals.  Tailoring, shoemaking, blacksmithing, pharmacy and even medical services.

So, having hit the bottom of the world, it was now time to turn around and for the first time in over two years, head north.

The next leg of the journey we will be zigzagging between Argentina and Chile exploring all Patagonia has to offer.

...So we reluctantly pull ourselves away from Ushuaia vowing to be back one day to cruise the Drake Passage to Antarctica.

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