Pre Antarctica – Argentina
So in early December 2013, myself and my brother headed to Antarctica to reach the 7th continent – and discover what it had to offer. Packing was a bit of a chore for this trip but I finally decided to take the following gear. Once we get into Buenos Aires, we spent a day here looking around and sight seeing before flying on to Ushuaia. We had already visited Buenos Aires in 2008 with the lads so we were kinda familiar with the place and area. We stayed at NH9 de Julio in the City Center. Nice hotel, clean, centrally located and within walking distance of several of the main attractions. We did a sight seeing tour with the hop-on hop-off local bus tour company and walked around the city to get some air and see it for ourselves. The following morning, we had an early flight from the national airport to Ushuaia. People were coming out of the nightclub at 05:00 when we were en-route to the airport – it only took us about 20 minutes to get from the city center to the airport. We checked in, dropped off the bags without any problems even though we were over the weight limit and settled in to wait for the onward flight. Three and a half hours later and we were touching down in Ushuaia and getting transferred to our hotel – Del Bosque Apartment Hotel. Once we had checked in we went out for a walk to get our bearings and look around the city – small enough but tidy. We had our first trip later on that evening to go looking for Beavers.
We were collected at 18:00 to head out to the park where the Beavers are located. The tour company – Comapa Tourism – had the driver and guide collect us at the hotel and we drove for around 30-40 minutes to the site entrance. Details on the website are as follows:
Total duration: 4 hours.
Hiking: 1 Hour.
Includes: transportation / hiking / meal.
Equipment: rubber boots and raincoat.
Minimum: 2 pax.
Departure from the hotel towards the valley. Arrival at the refuge located in a privileged place with a panoramic view. After putting on our rubber boots we start hiking. The area is the ideal habitat for those lovable creatures and by crossing several dams we will have the opportunity to watch some of these wild beavers. Hot drinks will be provided.
Later we will return to the shelter where we have the option of either having a meal. Return to Ushuaia.
We got back to the hotel at 22:00 that night and were happy as we had some beaver images as well as upload geese and a meal – a good start to the trip.
The following day we headed into Tierra Del Fuego for a 1/2 day train journey to “Fin del Mundo” or the end of the world. We hired a local company to bus us out to the train – purchase the train tickets for us and then collect us on the other side. I think that the train ride is approx 40-45 minutes long and it is only ok – you do not really see a lot of cool stuff and you are just on the edge of the National Park – you have to go a lot deeper into it to see the really good stuff. But if you have 1/2 day to spare it is worth doing I think. More details can be found here.
The following morning we did what we probably the best trip of the journey to date – 4 hour horse riding tour in and along the boundary of the National Park. We were collected at the hotel and taken to the ranch – 20-30 minutes drive away. We got saddled up and headed out for the excursion. Definitely bring wet pants with you as even if it is not raining you will be going through scrub and trees and brush for the journey and you are going to get wet. We had some rain but for the most part it was really enjoyable and really really peaceful. We stopped after two hours and had some tea and sandwiches and just relaxed and enjoyed the scenery, vistas and the peace. We headed back to Ushuaia and relaxed for the afternoon.
The following morning we headed for Harberton ranch via the road network where we got our first introduction to the different penguin colonies in the area. Only a set number of people can visit the ranch per day, and in doing so, take a boat out to the penguins on the island and walk amongst them. This is truly rare and something that I would recommend. A lot of tours out of Ushuaia will operate down to the area but cannot land on the islands. Harberton ranch itself is the only one that will allow you to walk amongst them – for a price!
We arrived back into Ushuaia and headed back to the hotel as we were checking out tonight and heading to the Los Nires hotel where we were going to stay before embarkation tomorrow at 16:00. The following morning, we relaxed and did some sight seeing near our new locations before heading into town to get on with our journey to the White Magnet