Magellan called it Tierra del Fuego–the Land of Fire–having
seen flames rising from the darkened islands. For over three centuries the name
struck fear in the hearts of mariners. Howling headwinds, mountainous seas, and
rocky coastlines spelled a sudden end to many a voyage. Today, Ushuaia, a former
whaling station and Argentine prison colony, serves as the gateway to this
wilderness where snow-capped mountains plummet to the icy waters of the Beagle
Our ship went southward out of the Strait of Magellan
and navigated around other canals before entering the larger Beagle Channel.
Ushuaia is an Indian word meaning "a bay
penetrating westward". This southern most city of the world (the end
of the world) is spectacularly situated, overlooking the Beagle Channel, named
for the ship that carried Charles Darwin on his voyage of discovery in
1831-36. The city is set against a backdrop of snow-capped, densely
forested peaks, and with a view of glittering sea and glacier-clad mountains.
Wildlife Cruise The catamaran has an enclosed
cabin with large viewing ports and an outside deck. We cruised comfortably
through the channel, which is dotted with islands and islets and is lined with mountain peaks.
Seal and Bird Islands We cruised past Seal and Bird Islands,
Home to elephant seals, sea lions, and many species of marine birds. We
also visited the historic Les Eclaireurs lighthouse.
Tierra Mayor Natural Reserve Trek This is
perhaps the most rewarding experience during the entire trip. In the
afternoon we took the bus for the half-hour drive northeast from Ushuaia.
Met our naturalist guide at Refugio Nuntak, a small cabin, then set out on our
two hour trek. We passed through a Lenga (resembles American Black Cherry)
forest, skirt peat bogs, observe beaver dams, and enjoy scenic views of the Five
Cascades mountains. Tea, coffee and cakes were served when we returned to the cabin.
Refugio Nuntak Cabin Only six of us went to the trip.
Getting ready Everyone changed to the boots
for the wet land.
View of the mountains The mountains around
us are pure magic.
Navigate the peat bogs We walked on wet
spongy ground of decomposing vegetation. It has poorer drainage than a
swamp and hides many traps of water ditches. We really enjoyed the
Beaver dams Beavers cut down a lot of trees
to build many dams in this area. Even more tress were killed by the ponds
as the results of these dams.
Scenic views on the Trek Here is a sample
of the many beautiful scenes on the way.
Back to the cabin We finally returned to
the cabin ...
Treats And treats of strong coffee and
cakes were waiting for us.
Leaving Ushuaia As the sun sets and our
ship was leaving, we celebrate the day over a glass of wine.
Back to cruise main page