Patagonia – Day 17: Ushuaia, Argentina (The end of the world…)

Date: 11/26/2014 Wednesday
Starting Location: Ushuaia, Argentina
Ending Location: Ushuaia, Argentina (All riding done in and around Ushuaia)
Mileage Today:  50 Miles
Mileage Total:  2313 miles

Breakfast

Finally, a decent breakfast.  By decent breakfast, I mean eggs and hot dogs.  That’s right, they don’t know what sausages are, so they substitute hot dogs for the meat.

When I checked in, I was told to expect Bacon and eggs, along with numerous other things, but in the end, the hot dogs were going to have to be a suitable substitute.  So, let’s take a step back…  Yum, these sure are good hot dogs when served as a hearty breakfast food.  In fact, I just might start making my morning omelet with hot dogs instead of lean chicken.

The Hotel

UshuaiaHotel01UshuaiaHotel02The Alto Andino hotel is probably the nicest hotel of our entire trip.  I wonder if the gang at Compass Expeditions is trying to set the mood and to ensure that we finish the trip properly?  At any rate, each room is a suite, with a marble bath, and a clean, contemporary design.  It was nice to be in this great hotel for the final two days of the trip.

Now, to many of you who live in comfort, and travel well, this may not look like much of a hotel.  And, in the bigger scheme of things, it is not.  However, this is an adventure vacation, in Patagonia.  So, once you dial back your expectations, and understand what is possible in these places, you gain a new perspective on what is a 4 star hotel, and what is not.  Consider the bathroom.  As has been the case throughout most of this trip, once again, my old friend the bidet is present, right there, taking up space and confounding this American.

On Thursday evening, we will fly to Buenos Aires, where I’m sure the hotel will be a proper hotel, with all of the bells and whistles.

The end of the Earth…

The whole point of today was to make our way to the end of the Earth.  Well, it’s not exactly the end of the Earth, but it is considered by many to be so, and it is the primary jumping off point for expeditions to Antarctica.

To get to the place that many consider to be The End, you have to leave Ushuaia and make your way to Tiera Del Fuego National Park.  Once in the park, you must travel about 15Km to reach the observation deck at Bahia Lapataia, but more on that later.

The trip out of Ushuaia is quite complicated, with speed bumps placed about every 100 yards, or less.  In addition to the speed bumps there are other restrictions in the road, which are geared to slow cars down.  The result is a strange traffic pattern where all traffic is either slowing for a speed bump, or it’s about to.

The trip out to the park takes about 15 minutes, and once in the park, including all 3 stops, you can assume that you’ll need a couple of hours to see everything and stop for pictures.

Stop #1 – Ensenada Zaratiegui

EnsenadaZaratiegui01EnsenadaZaratiegui02EnsenadaZaratiegui03This is the place where you can get your passport stamped with the words “End of the Earth”.  Unfortunately, I did not properly prepare, and did not have my passport with me.  So, this is about the only lost opportunity on the trip, so I don’t think I missed too much, bu it might have been nice to capture.

At this stop there is a dock, and a sign.  That’s about it.  Oh, and there are some nice views out into the waters off the coast of Tierra del Fuego, but that’s really all there is.

Why the helmet?

Some of you have asked, why don’t you take off your helmet in some of the pictures.  Well, the answer is quite simple.  In some of these places, the wind is so intense, and the temperature so unkind that if we were to take off the helmet, it can become quite uncomfortable, quite quickly.  So, as a pragmatist of the 1st order, I figured that the picture may be less than perfect, but I was still warm, and the picture captures the essence of the constant wind, and cold temperatures.

Stop #2 – I’ll finish this bit tomorrow, when I have a few minutes to spare…

Stop #3 – Bahaia Latapatia

How far is Bahia Latapatia?

I’ve done quite a bit of reading form travelers who have made it to Ushuaia, and they always come here, to this sign to get their picture taken.  What they don´t say is that in order to get here, you have to leave town, head to Tierra del Fuego park, and then make your way, ultimately traveling about 20 KM to the monument itself.  When you arrive, you need to prepare for a negotiation of sorts.

What is Bahia Latapatia?

It seems that at any moment in time, any number of tourist buses have arrived at the sign, and it seems that there are always a number of tourists that want the same picture, and so you have to wait, and wait…

BahiaLapataia01I’ve come over 2300 miles, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to miss this shot, just because there’s a line in front of me.  So, after a few minutes, we took a number of pictures of each of us, and of all of us at the sign.  I guess it’s easy to judge us, and ask why we wanted the same picture, as thousands that had come before, but the answer seems simple.  Each one of us has a journey, and on this journey, we want to try to remember it with the fondest memories possible.  Whether others had come before, or will come to this place when we’re gone is irrelevant to me.

BahiaLapataia03BahiaLapataia02The pictures are of the sign, and also from the lookout area which is accessed by walking down the path on the right.  It’s only a 3 minute walk to the lookout area, and the temperature was much warmer than the last stopping point, just a few miles down the road.  In any case, please enjoy the pix.

The boat trip that wasn’t

I neglected to mention that we were really supposed to do this trip to the sign in the afternoon, but as it turned out, the boats were not allowed to leave the harbor, due to high winds, and a surf that was too active.  So, we called an audible, and decided to visit the Tierra del Fuego park in the AM, and then try to get on a boat in the afternoon.

We never made it to the boat.  In order to get on the boat, we would have needed to arrive in Ushuaia, at our hotel by about 1:30 PM, so that we could walk to the docks, verify whether the ships would make sea, and then get on the boat.  We were on target to do that, and then, seemingly out of nowhere we decided to go to the top of the mountain and visit the Ski resort.

The Ski resort was quite nice, but for me, this would mean that I would be unable to go on the boat trip.  I’ll explain more in tomorrow’s post, but it was pretty disappointing to miss out on the boat trip, due to a last minute, seemingly arbitrary decision to visit the ski lodge at the top of the hill.

What will tomorrow bring

Today was our last day on the motorcycles, so we bid them farewell, and prepared to travel back to the states, via Buenos Aires.  At this time, we all expected to rise early tomorrow, get breakfast, and make our way to the airport.  I’m afraid that this was not to be, and a whole series of issues began to surface.  Read tomorrow’s post to find out more.

About the Author

Cliff Musante

Cliff Musante is a technologist, business leader, motorcycle enthusiast, father, grandfather, and more. In June, 2013 his passion for motorcycles was revitalized, and he set out to ride across Patagonia. This 'Blog is the story of all of his adventures.

Comments

  1. Cliff – Thanks so much for taking us all along with you on your trip! I’ve looked forward to reading your posts and seeing your pictures every day and I know it’s been a lot of work for you. Congrats on fulfilling your dream (the first of many, no doubt) and making it to 55 degs South! Hope tomorrow goes OK.
    – Graham

    1. Hi Graham
      Your comments mean a great deal to me, and I thank you for your support. I wish that you could have come along with me, but don’t worry, there is always next year.
      See you for coffee soon

  2. Cliff, I really have enjoyed going on this trip with you. I really get the idea that this trip will not be your last. We at home in Belmont will be glad to have you back with us and most importantly, will enjoy having your around to tell us more about your adventure.
    Bob

    1. Hi Bob, it’s really nice to hear from you, and to know that you’ve been following. The trip was only 3 weeks, but for my first big adventure, I can say with confidence that it is time to get home again.
      However, I am already planning my next big adventure. I can’t wait.

    1. Thanks Brendan
      I’m afraid that I only ha e a few more posts, a d just a few photos, but maybe I took more shots in BA than I remember

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