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When a place is called “Tierra del Fuego” (Land of Fire), and “The southernmost city in the world,” things are bound to get extreme. Upon hearing about Ushuaia, Argentina’s rugged landscape–chock-full of snow-capped mountains, glaciers, sea lions, penguins, and cormorant–we resolved to make Ushuaia our first Patagonia stop.
To get a grasp on this wild port town and its famous Beagle Channel, we started our stay with a five-hour boat tour with Rumba Sur. Pulling away from the dock, you see the houses spilling down the hill and appreciate the all the hard-core settlers who thought a town below a glacier would be a great place to live.
Within twenty minutes, we arrived at our first sea lion colony, a rock covered with lots of blubber. And as if they weren’t already cute enough, the middle sea lion (above) seemed to be waving us a hello.
Penguin lookalikes, these Cormorants were covering the majority of the rock islands. It was beautiful to watch them fish.
One of many lighthouses shepherding weary and weather-worn sailors into port.
Seeing that they are my favorite animal of all time, it was quite hard picking only two penguin photos, as the experience of pulling up their colony shores was magical. If you want to see our other favs, check out the full Ushuaia slide-show below or see them in action here.
On our journey we encountered two types of penguins, the Magellanic penguins and Gentoo penguins, both captured in this shot down the beach.
As we meandered home from our sea safari, the wind whipped up quite a fuss, but being the only person on the roof of the boat for nearly an hour was very peaceful.
Day 2: We dove into nearby Tierra Del Fuego National Park for a 24km-hike over peaks, through valleys, ancient forests, peat bogs, blue lagoons, and lush islands.
Along our hike we came across the southernmost post office in the world. This guy has been running this place since his 20s, swapping bundles of mail with passing boats.
After hiking to a marvelous peak over looking the park, we took the coastal path home, with moments sweeping up high through the trees then down low along the rocky beaches.
Day 3: We awoke before dawn broke to hike the Martial Glaciar before our 11:45 flight, which had us arriving at the trail head around 8am for two hours of pure unadulterated glacial beauty all to ourselves. We were so lucky to catch the fall foliage in full bloom.
A small glacial pool as we approached the glacier. The water was so pure and delicious it was begging me to dip in, but alas the flight to Calafate might not have been so pleasurable in icy underwear.
As you glance at this photo it looks like your standard patch of cliff snow. Until you look close, a bit off center, and see Anne with her hands stretched high.
They say you will always remember your first glacier (and if someone isn’t saying that, they should be, because it is true). Martial was far and away the smallest of the 7 glaciers we have hiked, however it was hands down the most technical ascent we undertook in all of Patagonia. With rock-slides at every step, and large caverns below ice sheets, and waterfall-wet paths, the coffee and oranges at the top tasted all the sweeter.
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