After 3 days at sea, we were excited to be finally getting into a port of call. We woke up early and headed up to the top deck with our cameras at 4:30am. We were sailing through the calm waters of the Beagle Channel on our way to Ushuaia and the pre-dawn twilight cast an eerie glow on the snow-capped mountains and glaciers on our starboard side. We stayed out on the deck for about half an hour watching the landscape slide by and then decided to get a few more hours of sleep as our arrival in Ushuaia was not scheduled until 10:30am.
After a hearty breakfast, we disembarked the Eclipse which had docked at the base of the town. We found our driver at the entrance to the pier who introduced himself and then we drove into the town to pick up our guide.
Ushuaia is a quaint little town with a population of approximately 60,000 people that is located on the southern shores of Isle Grande de Tierra del Fuego and overlooking the Beagle Channel to the south. It claims to be the southernmost city in the world and is situated just 1,100 kilometers from the Antarctic coast. Being a principle stopover for tourists rounding Cape Horn or heading to Antarctica, it thrives from tourism but also generates much of its economy from fishing and natural gas. Recently, it has generated a considerable income from manufacturing electronic products and has the largest electronics factory in Patagonia.
Following a quick tour of Ushuaia, we drove westward along the Pan American highway for 30 minutes towards the Chilean border and eventually arrived at the End of the World Post Office, a small metal structure that sits on stilts overlooking the Beagle Channel. People from all over the world stop in at this post office to mail postcards back to themselves that are postmarked “End of the World Post Office. We walked along the beach by the post office where the skies were bright blue with billowing clouds hanging over the mountains and the brisk breeze was creating frothy caps on the water that was lapping against the shoreline.
We left the Post Office and drove a short distance westward to the end of the Pan American highway, which covers a distance of 17,000 kilometers from its starting point in Alaska. The road ends at the tip of Lapataia Bay where we exited the car and walked around to take pictures of the breathtaking landscape.
Driving back towards Ushuaia, we stopped briefly at the Tierra Del Fuego National Park Information Centre to use the facilities and have a light lunch.
Upon arriving back in Ushuaia, we pre-purchased tickets for a catamaran cruise on the Beagle Channel and then walked around the picturesque downtown for an hour before the cruise was scheduled to depart.
We boarded the catamaran and found an empty table by the window on the upper deck. I purchased a glass of wine for each of us to enjoy as we sailed away from Ushuaia and into the Beagle Channel.
Our first stop was at a small island that was covered in hundreds of cormorants. We paused long enough to get some pictures and then continued sailing to another small island where we docked and disembarked. We had a chance to walk around this great rock that was remarkable for the extensive fauna that covered its surface. After reboarding the catamaran, we continued sailing further into the channel and stopped beside a small, flat island to view the sea lions that rested on the cold rock at the edge of the water.
A short distance from the sea lions was another small island that is totally barren except for the red and white brick lighthouse that protrudes skyward from its base. This is Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse otherwise known as “The End of the World” Lighthouse, which was built in 1920 and is still functional today. Although it is uninhabited, it is fully automated and remote controlled and generates electricity for its light via solar panels. After visiting the lighthouse, our catamaran made the return journey to Ushuaia which took about 45 minutes. We took one final, brief walk around the plaza by the pier then made our way back to the Eclipse.
We boarded our ship and then returned to our stateroom for a quick change before going to the dining room for dinner. After dinner we went to the main theatre to enjoy a concert that featured a skillful pianist and a variety of accompanying singers. We then retired to our stateroom to relax on the balcony and chatted about our day. We did not stay up too late as tomorrow at 6:00am we would be passing one of the key points on our South American cruise - Cape Horn!
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Sharing Our Travel Dreams
Sharing our personal experiences onboard and on the road, along with tips and insight for creating memorable vacations.