The most southernly city in the world, Ushuaia is the gateway to the Antarctica, with around 90% of visitors to the bottom of the planet leaving from here. The other 10% leave from Punta Arenas, Christchurch, Hobart or Cape Town, all further away. I spent a couple of days here two years ago so had seen everything in the town and around (there’s a great day walk in Tierra del Fuego National Park), but it was good to return and wander the streets once more. I still stand by my original observation though that it is like if Queenstown was built by the Soviets, with the built landscape reflecting a rapidly growing frontier town, but surrounded by amazing natural beauty with mountains and the wildlife filled Beagle Channel. This was even clearer this time round arriving by water.
I spent a couple of hours walking in a big loop, along the waterfront to the cemetery and up to this unusual monument, before heading back along the main street to the old prison at the other end of town. It’s an excellent museum but at USD$24 I was happy to take a few photos outside of these old steam engines rather than go inside again. The train is from the railway to the end of the world, built by prisoners, and at the time the narrowest gauge freight railway in the world.
Back to the port there were a couple of things of interest. The huge masts below belongs to the Aquijo, the largest sailing yacht in the world. Reading about it online the unknown (but clearly wealthy) owner took delivery of the yacht a year ago and was looking forward to taking it to South America, to sail around Cape Horn, which was planned for Boxing Day.
Across the dock from our ship was a more typical Antarctica bound ship, complete with a stack of Zodiacs on-top for getting closer to and landing on Antarctica. The photo below shows the size difference though with the Zaandam. We weren’t able to land or get as close but a bigger ship offers a more comfortable ride across the Drake Passage, and more things to do on-board, plus it was a less than half the price of these smaller ships.
There were some impressive skies as we headed away from Ushuaia, a sign of the incoming storms that delayed our trip down to Antarctica. These lead us to spend two days literally going round in circles in a sheltered bay waiting for them to clear, a necessary but pretty unexciting part of the cruise. The last photo of the weather map for the area shows why.