Ushuaia, The End Of The World

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Far, Far Away...

Far, Far Away…

Travelling to the Southernmost City in the world is pretty exciting. Sure, it´s a silly symbol, but it´s fun to sit by the seaside and imagine Antarctica is right there, barely 1,000 kilometres away. To know that Canada is 13,000 North. To reach the end of the road, literally.

We were not prepared for how bizarre and expensive was Ushuaïa though.

The city is built on a hill. We huffed and puffed our way up with our backpacks, trying to find a bed for the night. Hostals downhill had quoted 50 pesos a night, much more than we were prepared to pay. We ended up getting an expensive double room because the dorms were packed.

We walked the main street, San Martín. I felt like I was in a giant open-air airport: expensive restaurants, gear shops, duty free selling flat screen TV and the latest computers. This was not a city that catered to backpackers. Indeed, cruise ships stop by every day, crossing Cape Horn, and release hordes of Gore-Tex-clad tourists willing to spend a lot of Pounds or Euro (always welcome everywhere) for an “end of the world” tee-shirt and a couple of plastic penguins. They are here for a day and leave.

Meanwhile, we were stuck in Ushuaia for at least 5 days, because… let´s just say that it´s not that easy to get out of the end of the world. We were also having troubles withdrawing money from the ATM. Most we could get was 500 pesos (about $200). However, we like to withdraw money for the week to avoid paying hefty commission fees over and over again. Well, we never truly understood how ATM worked in Ushuaia. It seemed to be the lottery: sometimes you could get 600 pesos, sometimes 300 pesos.

Prices had risen dramatically and nor our guidebook nor the tourist information office fact sheets were up to date. We still tried hard to make the most of our stay but it was not easy on a small budget.

We went to visit Glacier Martial nearby. We were pretty disappointed: there was more snow in our backyard on any given winter than in the valley we had come to admire. We visited the Tierra del Fuego National Park, despite the 50 pesos entry fee (supposed to be 30 pesos according to the tourist info office…). The 4-hour hike was nice: we faced the Beagle channel, admired forest devastated by Canadian beavers (which were introduced in Tierra del Fuego and are an ecological disaster), we loved the view on top of the mountain. Yet, the landscape was… very similar to Canada´s. Ushuaia itself was quite chaotic , but the harbour (minus the cruise ships) is nice and on a clear day, the surrounding mountains show the jagged peaks.

Yet, after five days, we were ready to go. Being at the end of the world is a cool experience but since our budget would not allow for Antarctica travel (tickets were sold everywhere in Ushuaia starting from $4,000), we figured there were other places to explore in Patagonia.

So we crossed the border back to Chile… en route to the “Park of Pain.”

Welcome To Ushuaia!

Welcome To Ushuaia!

Ushuaia´s Harbor

Ushuaia´s Harbor

Going Up To The Glacier

Going Up To The Glacier

Mountains And Snow

Mountains And Snow

Tierra Del Fuego National Park

Tierra Del Fuego National Park

Tierra Del Fuego Scenery

Tierra Del Fuego Scenery

Forest...

Forest…

And Flowers

And Flower

Sunset In Ushuaia

Sunset In Ushuaia

This article was featured in the Sharing Travel Experiences travel monthly roundup in November 2009.

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

21 Comments

  1. That flower is definately a lupine. We have them wild in Norway too. Amazing how much like Norway the scenery is, and at the opposite end of the globe. Of course yes I know its cold at the south pole too…but its still cool!

  2. I had no idea that the average joe (or at least the rich one) could take a trip to Antarctica. Very interesting. Not that I would actually go-I’m finding I can barely stand a NY winter let alone experience the freeze of Antarctica.

  3. Wow, great sunset picture. I was guessing your surprise would be limited accommodations and high prices. Welcome to the tourist mecca. Sorry the glacier was disappointing, but isn’t it the middle of summer down there? I’m guessing that you are about as far south as Canada is north. Maybe it is not surprising that there are similarities. Still, it is beautiful and you have superb bragging rights. How many people do you know who have beem to the end of the world and come back to tell about it? Journey on my friend.

  4. What’s great is YOU get to endure the long and dirty trips with chicken buses or so to end up at the edge of the civilization and WE enjoy the pics you take. Aren’t we spoiled? Lol

  5. wow zhu, it sounds as if you are having great fun. i love the photographs. it is quite beautiful at the end of the world. the funny thing about travel is, no matter how you plan or how many guidebooks you read, it is always somehow different. i think “problems” are part of the adventure of travel. you can go home with great stories to tell. thank you for sharing them.

  6. What an exciting trip to an exotic place. I’ve never been there, so thanks for taking us with and great documented with wonderful pics too!

    Did you know the Northernmost city in the world is in Norway? It’s Hammerfest and I’ve been pretty close; to Kirkenes.

  7. Expensive as it is, I would die to get to know Ushuaia! To think I’m from Argentina, lived there for 33 years and never got even near the place… I do know some of the Southern Andes area and it’s true, it definitely looks like Canada.

  8. My aunt and uncle did an Antarctic cruise, and a friend of mine is a scientist and just got back from Antarctica, her 3rd year in a row. I’d love to go, but I think it would be more exciting to see the end of the world!

    If you can, read Road Fever by Tim Cahill. Two guys set a record for driving from Ushuaia to Point Barrow, AK. It’s a very funny telling of their trip.

  9. @Linguist-in-Waiting – Because we wanted to visit the Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile (see latest post), and the weather was not good at the time… plus it is easier to go through Puntas Arenas.

    @Bluefish – I didn´t know the name either, thanks to Diane for educating me!

    @kyh – It´s quite wild and different.

    @DianeCA – Thanks for the name of the flower, I had no idea.

    @silverneurotic – I was amazed myself. I mean, 4000$ is a lot of money but yet it is affordable I guess. But lots of cruise don´t actually disembarque on Antartica, I think they just sail nearby.

    @Bill Miller – Yes, it is summer, it could explaint he glacier… yet, I think it is a pretty “lame” glacier compared to those I saw later in Argentina, or even in New Zealand a few years ago.

    @Froggywoogie – You are the most spoiled man in the world. Comes with being French 🙂

    @Sidney – It is fun to reach the end of the world 🙂

    @Seraphine – Oh, definitely. Problems are just anecdotes, and stories later on… part of traveling.

    @RennyBA – I had no idea! I should visit it one day… I meet a few Norwegians in Ushuaia and they found it quite similar to home.

    @Gabriel – I think the city only boomed recently with the Antarctica… it was not that popular last time we were in Argentina in 2002. Let´s face it, it is really far and public transportation is difficult. It´s hell to get out of there… I´ll write about that later.

    @Kirsten – Thanks for the book, I´ll try to find it. I wish I could have goneto Antarctica, but with a good crew, not on a 2000 people boat…

  10. Salut Zhu,
    Même si je n’écris pas, je suis silencieusement tes aventures en Amérique Latine. Ton commentaire a retenu mon attention :
    “the Beagle channel, admired forest devastated by Canadian beavers (which were introduced in Tierra Del Fuego and are an ecological disaster)”.
    Matias Callone en parle justement dans son blog :http://matiascallone.blogspot.com/2009/02/cinco-invasiones-foraneas-en-la.html
    En passant, j’espère te faire découvrir le blog de cet argentin, tout plein de curiosités.
    Merci encore de nous faire voyager avec toi, c’est comme si tu nous emmenais dans ton sac-à-dos !

  11. Zhu,

    Expensive but beautiful!!

    Now you made me curious about Tierra del Fuego – I must find the courage to go there! 😀

    Thanks for another fantastic chapter of your trip!

    Cheers

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