20th March: Patagonia (Ushuaia and Beagle Passage)

This is near dawn, at the Ushuaia waterfront, looking over the harbour, beyond the road to the airport, across the Beagle Channel to the mountains on the other side.

Another shot from the roof of out hotel.

A panorama of Ushuaia harbour in the early morning.

I had expected that in our time in Ushuaia we would get to the National Park and perhaps a trip to the Harberton Homestead. Neither happened. We had too many last-minute tasks to make sure we were prepared for the voyage.

We did get to see a couple of interesting museums. One was the Maritime Museum, a former prison, which graphically shows the savage conditions prisoners endured here in the nineteenth century, including tiny cells, shackles and leg irons.

Another was the Museo de Maquetas Mundo Yámana, with informative displays on the indian history of the region. Essentially the indians were all wiped out by settlers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Most tribes are extinct and little of their culture remains.

I had been intrigued by a theory that there were early Australoid inhabitants of the Americas thousands of years before the Amerindians turned up (related to Australian Aborigines), and that their last refuge was in Tierra del Fuego up to the early years of the twentieth century. I didn’t find any evidence of that in Ushuaia and all the photographs of nineteenth century natives looked to be Amerindians of Mongoloid ancestry. If there were Australoids there, most likely they were a minority group in one or more tribes.

Clouds over the end of the Beagle Channel.

The big day. Off to Antarctica in a Russian icebreaker.

We left Ushuaia about 4pm and proceeded up the Beagle Channel until about midnight when we entered the Drake Passage. A school of whales passed us at one point but they weren’t there for long and I didn’t see them. I did spend some time photographing albatrosses and petrels with a long telephoto from the moving ship.

A small lighthouse in the Beagle Channel.

Another small lighthouse. The building behind is not an estancia and I think it must be a Customs Port or Monitoring Post.

Moonrise at the end of the Beagle Passage.

Google Maps link.

19th March: Patagonia (Ushuaia)

Very little photographic activity today, lots to see and do down here but we haven’t had the time. We did manage to visit several museums and have a trip up the cable car to see the view. We also met some of the people we will be sharing the ship with at dinner.

The ship above with the blue hull is the Polar Pioneer, which is taking us to Antarctica.

At the right is part of Ushuaia and the mountains above.

Below are some houses a few streets back from the main street of town. All three images are from the roof of our hotel.

Argentinian towns can be quite different. Unlike El Calafate, where pedestrians seemed to be fair game, here drivers were remarkable courteous and considerate to pedestrians.

We walked all around town trying to find a dry bag for me. This was a late recommendation for Antarctica (on the zodiacs). We’d all but given up when we found one at a fishing place just a couple of doors from our hotel.


18th March: El Calafate to Ushuaia

We dropped off the rental car today, having driven something like 2,000 kilometres over two weeks, and took the plane to Ushuaia.

No images today because we found we needed a few more items for Antarctica.  Getting organized for the trip takes precedence.

We’ve had some great meals in Argentina and Chile, at Buenos Aires, Helsingfors, Los Notros and Estancia Mirador del Paine but nothing to compare with the meal we had tonight, a wonderful seafood meal by a very talented chef.  If you’re ever in Ushaia, check out Kalma Restaurant at Antartida Argentina 57 (that’s the street address).  Damien and Morgane from France pointed us to this restaurant some weeks ago in Helsingfors.