Ushuaia, Tierra Del Fuego
For me, Tierra Del Fuego has been one of those mystical names in far off places of myth and legend that are difficult to reach. To find ourselves approaching Ushuaia, the southern most city of the South American continent, with the Peaks of Tierra Del Fuego rising behind, seems like a dream. And yet, here we are!
We are the first visitors of the season to a town recently awoken from the extremes of winter. It is cold. The town itself looks very smart beneath the white of the mountains with its colourful buildings along the water front. We have decided to take a tour which will take us up into the mountains to the Garibaldi Pass on the only road to the rest of South America.
On the way back down from the pass, we stop at a “Winter Resort” for a snack. This resort boasts two ski lifts up to the extensive ski fields and lots of Huskies for the sleds. We are told that this is a favourite practice stop for competitive European skiers who need to keep up their skills year round. At this time of the year, the dogs have little to do.
As we leave Ushuaia, at sea once more, the sunset fires up and we spend some time on the deck just being in the beauty of the moment. What an amazing place. What is it about sunsets that fire the imagination?
Then the lights of Ushuaia bid us farewell.
Onwards we go still further south and as we sleep away the night. We have an early morning call as we pass Cape Horn with flat seas and patchy sunlight. All the stories we have heard about this dramatic stretch of water where the meeting of the Pacific and Atlantic ocean currents combined with the roaring of frequent storms have caused so much pain through the ages. Not for us today!
The Falkland Islands
We arrive off the Falkland Islands in the early morning and anchor in the outer harbour to be greeted by calm seas and sunshine. It will be a long tender ride today … could be 45 minutes. We are told that, of all the stops in this part of the world, the Falklands can be one of the most difficult and sometimes ships are unable to stop here because of high winds and heavy seas.
Even if they do stop, there can be problems with the tendering process. On one occasion, several hundred visitors could not be brought back to the ship and had to stay on the island for an extra night, with the ship calling back the next day! Needless to say, finding beds for everyone was a nightmare.
This is the memorial to those lost in the Falklands war of 1982, when the Brits came and kicked the occupying Argentinians off the islands. Although there were losses, the Falkland islanders are as one in thinking that this was a good thing!
Turning north once more, we have a couple of sea days before finding land once more, this time it will be Montevideo in Uruguay and then Buenos Aires. Back to the big smoke!