Saturday, December 8, 2012

Ushuaia, Argentina

Sharon K. Schafer
7 Dec 2012

Ushuaia, Argentina

Look at a map of South America and you will find Ushuaia on the very tip of Cape Horn -- just about as far south as one can get in the world. In fact, Ushuaia touts itself as the southernmost city in the world. It’s a modern tourist town of 60,000 people that has become the major jumping off spot for Antarctic expeditions.

Ushuaia is the capital of the Argentine province of Tierra Del Fuego. Spectacular to fly into, the town is on the southern edge of the island and is wedged between the Martial Mountains on the north and the Beagle Channel on the south.

The town was originally settled by the British back in 1873 as a site for a penal colony. The place was remote and wild and escape impossible. These “forced colonists” built many of the town’s original old buildings.

Absolutely spectacular to fly into, the area is a rugged landscape of jagged snow covered peaks that drop abruptly to the Beagle channel. The plane is forced to do a gradual descending spiral over the Beagle channel then lands neatly on the runway next to the water. Looking up to the mountains you see dense dark green of the Megellanic subpolar forests where you can find endemic trees of the area: Winter's bark and hard log mayten and several species of Nothofagus.

We are staying staying at Hotel Altos – Ushuaia a nice clean hotel up on the mountain, with an amazing view of the Ushuaia,Ushuaia Bay, and the Beagle Channel. The place was welcome respite from hustle of the main tourist area.

Gradually our trip participants are arriving. Most look more than a bit haggard from their long flight and eventful transfers. Many had to contend with the severe weather and flight delays in Buenos Aires. Each travelers had their own version of frightening stories of streets so flooded that busses and taxis stopped running, cancelled flights, closed airports, tornados, severe thunderstorms, evacuations, and even toxic explosions forcing red alerts at the hospitals.

Jackie was in the middle of it and will tell you more about her adventures later (once she has a good nights sleep)

The bad news is 18 people got caught in the Buenos Aries mess. The unbelievable, remarkable, amazing, good news is that by the night of 7 Dec. On the scheduled day, everyone was safe and sound and in Ushuaia with their luggage and possessed an excited, optimistic attitude. They were all ready and willing to board our ship, the Akademik Ioffe, tomorrow, 8 Dec at 4pm to really begin their Antarctic adventure.

All the ducks have arrived. I will sleep well tonight.


  1. It's good to hear you've arrived and that your covey has arrived too. Smooth sailing!

    Jack and Brenda

  2. Will you be able to report on KNPR?

  3. So happy to hear that everyone arrived on time to continue the journey - if not worse for wear. Can't wait to get more updates! Best of luck for the remaining legs of the trip.